...In an interview, Berthe Amoss said she had thought of herself as an artist and illustrator since childhood. She studied art at the University of Hawaii; the Kunsthalle in Bremen, Germany; the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, Belgium; and
the New Orleans Academy of Art.
When she was 35 and expecting her fifth child, Amoss decided she wanted to write and illustrate children’s books.
Encouraged by a friend, she pulled together some of her manuscripts and called, unannounced, on the prestigious publishing company Harper & Row. Susan Carr Hirshman, an editor there, showed her work to colleagues and, Amoss said, came back with this
verdict: “Everybody likes your illustrations, but your stories are pretty bad.”
That didn’t daunt her, Amoss said: “I kept writing these terrible little stories, and Susan kept sending them back.”
Then came the fateful birthday party, which launched what turned out to be an eclectic career that included not only children's and other books but also Advent calendars she designed for such prestigious institutions as the National Gallery of Art, the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Many of Amoss’ books were set in New Orleans and the southwestern Louisiana countryside. “The Cajun Gingerbread Boy” won a Children’s Choice Award, and “The Chalk Cross” was a finalist for an Edgar Allan Poe Award.
She also did a cookbook for children that came with a bottle of Tabasco sauce attached to the spine.
Although Louisiana was the inspiration for much of her work, she also wrote “Lost Magic,” a book involving magic and self-discovery set in the Middle Ages.
In addition to writing, Amoss taught children’s literature at Tulane from 1981 to 1993 and from 2001 to 2003. She was the first recipient of the Newcomb College Authors Fellowship; founded and directed Trial Balloons, a children's literature program at
Tulane; and established the Amoss Collection of Children’s Literature at Tulane’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library...
From Google Books, about "Lost Magic" (1993, one of her more popular books):
"Set in Britain during the Middle Ages, this well-crafted story centers on Ceridwen, a Wise Woman who can heal sickness with herbs. When she becomes the chief companion to a nobleman's daughter, a jealous rival accuses Ceridwen of witchcraft. the course
of defending her reputation, Ceridwen discovers that she does indeed possess immense magical abilities."
From a customer:
"There were few books I read as a child that I insist on owning for my bookshelves as an adult. This is one of those. As a girl the story fascinated me and I remember wishing to be just like the main character. I actually learned things from this book
that I would never have known otherwise. The best part about books like this is that things are not sugar coated just because it is a book for children. The history the author portrays is accurate. Life at that time was HARD. I appreciated that even as a
About "The Chalk Cross" (1976):
"Stephanie Martin finds herself transported to 19th-century New Orleans, where her life intertwines with that of Sidonie Laveau, daughter of the Voodoo Queen."
About "A Cajun Little Red Riding Hood" (2000):
"Katine is the Cajun Little Red Riding Hood and she's on her way to her grandmother, Mere's house. Into the swampy woods she goes while M'Sieur Cocodrie slithers through the swamp ahead of her. Katine is bringing Mere some pecans from a tree in her yard
so that Mere can make pralines from her secret recipe. But M'sieur Cocodrie has other plans for dessert!"
Self-illustrated; juveniles, except as indicated:
It's Not Your Birthday, Harper, 1966.
Tom in the Middle, Harper, 1968.
By the Sea, Parents Magazine Press, 1969.
The Marvellous Catch of Old Hannibal, Parents Magazine Press, 1970.
Old Hasdrubal and the Pirates, Parents Magazine Press, 1971.
The Very Worst Thing, Parents Magazine Press, 1972.
The Big Cry, Bobbs-Merrill, 1972.
The Great Sea Monster; or, A Book by You, Parents Magazine Press, 1975.
The Chalk Cross (young adult novel), Seabury, 1976, reprinted, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2007.
The Witch Cat, Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, 1977.
Secret Lives, Little, Brown, 1979.
The Loup Garou, Pelican, 1979.
What Did You Lose, Santa?, Harper & Row, 1987.
The Mockingbird Song, Harper & Row, 1988.
Old Hannibal and the Hurricane, Hyperion, 1991.
(With Dulaney Montgomery) Delicious Dishes: Creole Cooking For Children, More Than a Card, 1991.
Lost Magic, Hyperion, 1993 The Cajun Gingerbread Boy, Hyperion, 1994.
(With Eric Suben) Writing and Illustrating Children's Books for Publication: Two Perspectives, Writer's Digest Books, 1995.
(Illustrator) Eric Suben, The Secret of Pirate's Manor, Andrews and McMeel, 1995.
(With Eric Suben) Ten Steps to Publishing Children's Books: How to Develop, Revise & Sell All Kinds of Books for Children, Writer's Digest Books, 1997.
Five Fairy Tale Princesses, Random House, 1998.
(With Eric Suben) The Children's Writer's Reference, Writer's Digest Books, 1999.
The Three Little Cajun Pigs, MTC Press, 1999.
A Cajun Little Red Riding Hood, MTC Press, 2000.
Draw Yourself Into ... A Starlit Journey: The Nativity, The Visit Of The Magi, The Flight Into Egypt, And The Baptism Of Jesus In Words From The Gospels Of Luke And Matthew, Word Among Us Press (Ijamsville, MD), 2003.
Draw Yourself Into ... The Ark With Noah and His Family, Word Among Us Press (Ijamsville, MD), 2003.
Pencil Prayer: Illustrate Your Journal and Draw Yourself into Prayer, Cocodrie Press (New Orleans, LA), 2006.