Nancy Farmer

Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to India (1963-1965). When she returned she went to Berkeley and sold newspapers on the street for a while, then got a job in the Entomology department at UC Berkeley and also took courses in Chemistry there. Restless, again, she decided to visit Africa. She and a friend tried to  hitchhike by boat but the ship they’d selected turned out to be stolen and was boarded by the Coast Guard just outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Nancy was forced to buy an airline ticket. She spent more than a year, living virtually alone, on Lake Cabora Bassa in Mozambique, monitoring water weeds. Next she was hired to help control tsetse fly in the dense bush on the banks of the Zambezi in Zimbabwe. Part of the time she spent in the capital, Harare, and there met her future husband. They married a few weeks later (in 1976) and now live in Menlo Park, California. They have a son, Daniel, who is in the U.S. navy.

Nancy’s honors include the National Book Award (Children’s Literature) for The House of the Scorpion and Newbery Honors for The Ear, the Eye and The Arm, A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion. She is the author of eight novels, three picture books and a number of short stories. Her books have been translated into 26 languages.

Find Nancy on her website, here.

Bibliography

  • Middle Grade
    The Warm Place
    Nancy Farmer
  • Middle Grade
    A Girl Named Disaster
    Nancy Farmer
  • Middle Grade
    Do You Know Me
    Nancy Farmer
  • Middle Grade
    The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
    Nancy Farmer
  • Children's
    Clever Ali
    Nancy Farmer
  • Children's
    Casey Jones’s Fireman: The Story of Slim Webb
    Nancy Farmer
  • The House of the Scorpion Series
    The House of the Scorpion (#1)
    Nancy Farmer
  • The House of the Scorpion Series
    The Lord of Opium (#2)
    Nancy Farmer
  • Sea of Trolls Trilogy
    The Sea of Trolls (#1)
    Nancy Farmer
  • Sea of Trolls Trilogy
    The Land of Silver Apples (#2)
    Nancy Farmer
  • Sea of Trolls Trilogy
    The Islands of the Blessed (#3)
    Nancy Farmer
     

Reviews

Middle Grade

The Warm Place
“Farmer confirms her place among the most inventive YA writers of the day with this rollicking tale […] Following in the grand tradition of Roald Dahl’s fantastical JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, Farmer’s tale careens from one over-the-top situation to the next; laced with dry humor and populated by memorable characters, it is pure delight.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Good fantasy changes the way the world looks, and that's what Farmer's book does."

Booklist

A Girl Named Disaster
“A gripping adventure, equally a survival story and a spiritual voyage […] Nhamo is a stunning creation–while she serves as a fictional ambassador from a foreign culture, she is supremely human. An unforgettable work.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Nhamo [is] wonderfully resourceful [and] surrounded by an equally lively, colorful cast [...] By removing many of the borders between human and animal, living and dead, Farmer creates a milieu as vivid and credible as readers' own. As rewarding, and as challenging, as THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM.”

Kirkus

“[H]umorous and heartwrenching, complex and multilayered [...] The fortunate child who reads it will place Nhamo alongside Zia (Island of the Dolphins) and Julie (Julie of the Wolves). An engrossing and memorable saga.”

School Library Journal

“A dazzling choice for a parent-child book group, or to give to a reluctant reader, or to enjoy as a solitary pleasure when in need of something absorbing and magical to read.”

Paper Tigers

Do You Know Me
“Farmer is clearly a born storyteller–in this impressive first book she displays an astute ear for dialogue, a deft hand with plot twists and a keen, dry wit. Tapiwa could be the girl next door; she is also a most interesting window on a culture seldom seen in children’s books.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“An exaggerated splendidly comic tale enriched by profound undertones”

Kirkus

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
“A marvelous odyssey […] featuring a witty projection of the future, a score of vividly realized characters, and a nonstop adventure culminating in a denouement that’s at once taut, comic, and touching, Farmer has created a splendidly imaginative fantasy.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“The madcap game of chase and escape clips along as the author plies her playful, sly sense of humor on a wonderfully silly cast of secondary characters, spirits and Jetsonian gadgets. This tale overflows with wise insights, lessons and observations about the ties between heritage and family. Farmer is emerging as one of the best and brightest authors for the YA audience.“

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"In its fundamental suspense and appeal the book bears an odd but satisfying resemblance to The Wizard of Oz—witches, scarecrows, and all."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review

"The thrilling adventure [...] will grab readers, who will also like the comic, tender characterizations, not only of the brave, defiant trio and the absurd detectives, but also of nearly every one the kids meet, from street gangsters and spiritual healers to the English tribespeople with their weird customs."

Booklist

“It is a story that will stick with you and beg to be read again.”

Teen Ink

“THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM is one of those books you finish and immediately want to call everyone you know to recommend.”

SF Site

Children's

Clever Ali
“De Marcken’s jewel-like watercolors adorned with Arabic calligraphy and mosaic patterns are well suited to this sweet and gently humorous tale.”

Kirkus

“This beautifully written story is a treat for the eyes and ears.”

School Library Journal

“Forget all of Nancy Farmer’s honors. One only need read this slim story to realize she is a consummate writer…. and the whole is illustrated with wonderful thought and grace by Gail de Marcken’s lovely watercolor pictures and Arabic marginal notations. It is a beautiful book.”

Children's Literature

Casey Jones’s Fireman: The Story of Slim Webb
“Children will relish this little-known piece of railroad lore, with its echoes of an epic battle being waged, and won."

Kirkus

“Farmer’s fully realized portrait of a little-known figure from African-American history will fascinate readers […] Children will want to proceed full steam ahead to the dramatic finale.”

Publishers Weekly

“This is dramatic stuff and Bernardin’s vivid, painterly illustrations do it justice, with larger-than-life heroes, and the mythic Cannonball hurtling through the night landscape.”

School Library Journal

“Farmer eloquently interweaves history and myth into a suspenseful, engrossing drama, enhanced by well-developed characters, particularly Sim, an ordinary man challenged by extraordinary circumstances. Bernardin’s lush, vibrant paintings are lovely and mystical.”

Booklist

The House of the Scorpion Series

The House of the Scorpion (#1)
“Farmer’s latest young-adult novel unflinchingly tackles the war on drugs and mistreatment of migrant labors [...] This is mind-expanding fiction for older teens that also works for adults — think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Orwell’s 1984 or Nevil Shute’s On the Beach.”

USA Today

“[A] solid modern classic.”

USA News & World Report

“Farmer’s novel may be futuristic, but it hits close to home, raising questions of what it means to be human, what is the value of life, and what are the responsibilities of a society. Readers will be hooked from the first page.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“[A] remarkable coming of age story….”

Booklist, Starred Review

“Farmer has a talent for creating exciting tales in beautifully realized, unusual worlds. With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons’ hoards, and killing fields, Matt’s story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for SF fans.”

Kirkus

The Lord of Opium (#2)
“Most young readers who loved The House of the Scorpion (2002) when it was first released are now adults, and today’s teen audience will need to read the first title in order to fully understand Farmer’s brilliantly realized world. The satisfying ending is left open enough to allow for further stories, and Farmer includes an appendix that links real people and places to the book. A stellar sequel worth the wait.”

Booklist, Starred Review

"Once again, Farmer’s near-future world offers an electric blend of horrors and beauty. Lyrically written and filled with well-rounded, sometimes thorny characters, this superb novel is well worth the wait."

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Matt discovers that good and evil are not always clear-cut as he struggles to gain control over an empire long ago corrupted. Readers of the first book will be able to fill in the background on all that Farmer implies, and will appreciate the continuing stories of familiar characters.”

School Library Journal

"The landscape of dystopian literature has changed significantly since the first book, but this sequel is still a cut above the rest."

Horn Book

"This sequel to the award-winning House Of The Scorpion [...] is both science fiction and a reflection of contemporary issues. Politically savvy teens will recognize the dilemma of leaders caught in an intricate web of choices and consequences (Guantanamo, anyone?). Cloning, legalization of drugs, environmental degradation, runaway technology—all make an unsettling appearance [...] The story is stronger and more cohesive, the moral questions more subtle than in House Of The Scorpion."

VOYA

Sea of Trolls Trilogy

The Sea of Trolls (#1)
“THE SEA OF TROLLS blends ancient history and Norse epics with recognizable bits of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings [...] Her characters—even the mythical and animal ones—ache with longing and are overcome by bitterness and spite. Thus does Farmer shatter the museum glass of history and make her characters live and breathe. [...] THE SEA OF TROLLS conveys, more vividly than any textbook, the Vikings’ storied fatalism, their devotion to heroic death and to a savage afterlife in Valhalla. Hearing the Northmen talk rapturously about the glories of being slaughtered in battle, the sensitive Jack can’t understand it, but the reader will.”

The New York Times

“Brilliantly marries historic details about life in […] A.D. 793 with the magic of runes, trolls and bards.”

USA Today

“Should instantly be added to the list of those books which leave an indelible mark on the imagination […] a hair-raising, spine-tingling, heart-stopping adventure which really does bear comparison to The Hobbit.”

The Times

“A hugely entertaining story sure to appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“Engrossing […] a most adroit fusion of the natural and supernatural worlds”

Horn Book, Starred Review

“Readers will want to sail through these nearly 500 pages to find out what happens to […] Jack and his sister.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Envelops the reader […] a tale of high adventure and exploration that reads with unexpected sensitivity, warmth, and humor.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

The Land of Silver Apples (#2)
“As the middle volume of a planned trilogy set in eighth-century Britain, [THE LAND OF SILVER APPLES] takes its shape from the whole: It can stand on its own, but it mostly enlarges the world of the first volume. It’s not the quest itself that’s memorable, but the majestic sweep of Farmer’s storytelling, from the story of Lucifer and the battle of the angels to the Man in the Moon, the goddess Hel and any number of hobgoblins, yarthkins, knuckers and kelpies. Jack, Pega and Thorgil prove strong and capable in ways they themselves never suspected, and readers will look forward to the final installment.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“Farmer beautifully balances pell-mell action and quieter thematic points, especially the drawbacks of immortality and the wild tangle of Christian and pagan traditions in eighth-century Britain. Like the druidic life force Jack taps, this hearty adventure, as personal as it is epic, will cradle readers in the 'hollow of its hand.'”

Booklist, Starred Review

“Farmer draws on mythology, including legends and runes of the Picts, to add depth to her story, and her author’s note and sources add authenticity to the narrative. She builds on Jack’s adventures in The Sea of Trolls and at the same time creates a stand-alone novel, drawing readers into this complex world and leaving them looking forward to more.”

School Library Journal, Starred Review

“In this entrancing sequel, Jack, now 13 and a bard-in-training, is forced to head out to rescue his little sister Lucy once more when she is kidnapped by the Lady of the Lake […] Their Tolkienesque adventures, filled with magic, danger, and humor, will appeal to all fantasy fans who enjoyed the acclaimed first book.”

Kliatt

“This sequel to The Sea of Trolls lives up to the expectations set by the first novel […] this fantasy is truly remarkable with the blending of the myths and ancient Christian tales.”

VOYA

The Islands of the Blessed (#3)
“It is Jack, with his grounded humanity and his search for a moral path, who forms the heart of this memorable tale, but the entirety of Farmer’s sweeping story will linger long after the intriguing conclusion.”

Booklist, Starred Review

”It's a wondrous tale of hobgoblins, mermaids and sea hags, Saxons and Northmen, old gods and young bards, thoroughly steeping readers in Norse mythology. It's also a long, beautifully written tale, expertly weaving together several story lines and informing readers new to the series of crucial plot points from the previous volumes. [...] Readers may well suspect—and hope—that a new series of Jack’s tales may be in the offing. ”

Kirkus, starred review

"As always, Farmer excels at the details that bring a magical world to life, from food to smells to travel inconveniences, and her merfolk are inhuman and powerful. Readers who appreciate strong fantasy with mythic roots will find this an intriguing read."

School Library Journal

Awards & Accolades

Middle Grade

The Warm Place
Zimbabwe

Best Children’s Book, Zimbabwe International Book Fair, 1996

A Girl Named Disaster
USA

Newbery Honor

USA

National Book Award Finalist

USA

ALA: “Notable Book”

USA

ALA: “Best Book for Young Readers”

USA

Horn Book Fanfare Book

USA

Publishers Weekly: “Best Book of the Year”

USA

School Library Journal: “Best Book of the Year”

USA

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Top Ten

USA

Parent's Choice 1996 Story Book Award

USA

IBBY honor list

USA

Hungry Mind Review Books of Distinction

USA

Bay Area Book Reviewers’ Association Award for Children’s Literature

USA

Commonwealth Club of California Book Silver Medal

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
USA

Newbery Honor

USA

ALA: “Best Book for Young Adults”

USA

ALA: “Notable Children's Book”

USA

Parent's Choice: 1994 “Story Book Award”

USA

Blue Ribbon Book, 1994

USA

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Honor

USA

Hal Clement [Golden Duck] Award

Children's

Clever Ali
USA

Junior Library Guild Premier Selection

USA

Book Links Lasting Connection of 2006

USA

California Collections (Elementary), 2009

The House of the Scorpion Series

The House of the Scorpion (#1)
USA

2002 National Book Award Winner

USA

Newbery Award

USA

Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

Germany

Buxtehuder Bulle

USA

ALA: “Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults”

USA

Sequoyah Young Adult Award

USA

IRA: “Young Adults’ Choices”

USA

Volunteer State Award, 2006

USA

Arizona Young Readers Teen Award, 2005

USA

South Carolina Junior Readers Award, 2005-2006

USA

Rhode Island Teen Book Award nominee, 2004

USA

Young Hoosier Book Award, 2006

USA

Nevada Young Readers’ Award, 2005

USA

Nevada Young Readers’ Award, 2005

USA

Pacific Northwest Library Association, 2005

USA

Bay Area Book Reviewers’ Association Award for Children’s Literature

Sea of Trolls Trilogy

The Sea of Trolls (#1)
USA

ALA: “Best Book for Young Adults”

USA

ALA: “Notable Children's Books”

USA

Kirkus Reviews Editor's Choice

USA

Horn Book Fanfare Award

USA

PEN USA Literary Award Finalist

USA

Washington Post: “Best Books of the Year”

USA

School Library Journal: “Best Books of the Year”

USA

Publishers Weekly: “Best Books of the Year”

USA

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Finalist

The Land of Silver Apples (#2)
USA

Emperor Norton Award 2007

USA

Horn Book Fanfare Award

USA

Bank Street Best Books of the Year

USA

Chicago Public Library: “Best of the Best”