Biography

A few words about Barb

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in a hospital not far from the city's famous zoo. My mother often told me that, while waiting to give birth to me, she could hear the hungry lions roaring for their dinner.

I grew up in a family that loved talking about the "news" - events taking place in our neighborhood and city, as well as the nation and world. Those conversations often took place around our family dinner table. I began reading newspapers and magazines during my grade-school years to better understand what grown-ups were always talking about. My parents shared all sections of the newspaper with me, but my favorite was the sports section. I loved rooting for the hometown baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, and on the sports pages I read all about the players, their batting averages, the team's chances of winning the pennant, and more. I listened to games on the radio, too. Often I fell asleep at night with my radio tuned to Cardinal broadcasts.

Along with newspapers, I loved reading books - Nancy Drew mysteries, biographies and historical fiction. One of my all-time favorite books was the 1936 Newbery Medal winner, Caddie Woodlawn, about a pioneer girl who had lots of spunk. All the book-reading nurtured my interest in history - one of my chief interests today. The reading also inspired me to write stories and poems. My poems weren't very good, but my grandmas always liked the ones I wrote for their birthdays. In sixth grade, I wrote a poem for a school contest and was invited to read it at a parent-teacher assembly. Lucky me! I received a trophy for that poem - my first and only trophy. I still have it.


See what's behind me? "Television" was brand new when I was growing up in the 1950s. I loved reading books, but I watched TV, too.

In college, I studied journalism to prepare for a career in newspaper work. I attended Indiana University, where I wrote and edited stories for the campus newspaper. I loved my college classes and eventually earned a master’s degree in journalism. After that, I worked as a reporter for newspapers first in Bloomington, Indiana, then in Louisville, Kentucky, and later in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Eventually I began writing “opinion” articles, and in 1986 I was a finalist along with two co-workers at The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette for one of the most prestigious awards in journalism – the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing.

As my family grew in size (I have four sons), I decided to leave newspaper work and concentrate on book-writing. My first book, Those Cars of Auburn, was a breezy account of now-classic automobiles built a century ago in northern Indiana, where I live. My second book, for upper-elementary and older readers, was From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie, in which I profile the lives of five celebrated Indiana authors of an earlier era. I have since written two children’s picture books, Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo and A Good Night for Freedom, and two young adult biographies, one on the legendary basketball coach John Wooden and another on the Hoosier naturalist and nature writer Gene Stratton-Porter. Most days, you'll find me in my office working on more stories.

I frequently visit schools and libraries, where I talk with students about how I research, write and revise my books. I’d love to visit your school or organization.

About Barb
Barbara Olenyik Morrow is a children's book author whose work has garnered praise from reviewers. Her spirited read-aloud Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo was honored in 2010 by the Friends of American Writers, which recognizes the work of emerging Midwestern authors of juvenile and adult literature.
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