With her most recent books, award-winning middle-grade author Elizabeth Atkinson ’83 is finding new national and international acclaim.
Atkinson’s latest novel, “The Island of Beyond” (2016), has been named to the New York Public Library’s list of this year’s Best Books for Kids and Teens. The coming-of-age tale centers on 11-year-old Martin Hart, who, sent to live with his great-aunt for a summer on the tiny island of Beyond, embarks on a “timeless quest for love and acceptance” (Kirkus Review).
In “The Sugar Mountain Snow Ball” (2015), which won the 2016 Gold Moonbeam Award for Pre-Teen Fiction and was a 2016 Maine Literary Finalist, Atkinson tells the story of 11-year-old Ruby LaRue, her bright but shy friend Eleanor Bandaranaike, and their lives in a quaint ski town divided by class. In the tale of self-discovery, Ruby and Eleanor find “unlikely friendships, crushes, profits, secrets and a surprise ending,” writes The Conway Daily Sun, which recently profiled Atkinson.
Finally, Atkinson’s 2010 novel “I, Emma Freke” continues to garner praise, with the French edition winning the 2015 Ado-Lisant (Teen Reading) Prize in Belgium and the 2015 Sunshine State Young Reader Award. In 2014, “I, Emma Freke” was also nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Award. Centering on the titular character as she navigates school and family relationships, the novel “deftly portrays the intense self-consciousness that is an inherent part of the transition between childhood and adolescence…[as Emma] reconciles the disparate halves of both her personality and her extended family [on her] poignant journey of self-discovery.”
Atkinson has won the 2011 Society of School Librarians International Honor Book Award, the 2010 Gold Moonbeam Award and, in 2009 and 2011, the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books honor. Her work has also been selected for the Scholastic Book Flyer.
Born in Rhode Island and raised in Harvard, Mass, Atkinson’s New England upbringing has played an influential role in the settings of much of her work. As a William Smith student, she was a member of the tennis team, participated in Koshare and Little Theatre, and studied abroad in Sri Lanka. She graduate cum laude with a B.A. and honors in anthropology, and went on to earn her M.A. in liberal studies (with a concentration in creative writing) from Dartmouth College. She is married to Erik Eames ’82, founder of Wireless Analytics, and they have two adult children, Madeleine and Nathaniel Eames.
Find her books and more online at elizabethatkinson.com.