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Children's Author/Illustrator Biographies

Berger, Melvin
1927 -
Author

Melvin Berger was born in Brooklyn, NY, on August 23, 1927. He attended City College of New York, earned a B.M. from Eastman School of Music, holds an M.A. from Columbia University, and earned an associate degree from the University of London. Before becoming a freelance writer and musician (he is a professional violist), Berger was a lecturer in music and a music teacher. He lives in East Hampton, NY, with his wife, author Gilda Berger. They have two daughters, Eleanor and Nancy.

A specialist in juvenile nonfiction, Melvin H. Berger has written upwards of two hundred titles for children and young adults in the fields of popular science and music. Often collaborating with his wife, Gilda, Berger has examined everything from ants to zoos in full-length and picture-book formats. In between, he has touched on topics from true crime to the occult, from how food is processed to how a magnifying lens works. Many of his works deal with music, the fundamentals of astronomy, industry at work, and scientists at work and are published in series, but a large part of his output defies categorization. The winner of numerous awards for his writing, Berger has often been praised for his use of concrete examples and details that have enabled him to simplify his subjects without trivializing them.

Born and brought up in Brooklyn, New York, Berger formed a dual passion for music and science early on. The advice of a counselor convinced him to continue with science as a backup to the risky choice of earning a living playing music. But Berger's family was well acquainted with the difficulties of earning a living. His father, a Russian immigrant, earned a tenuous living as an upholsterer and furrier through the years of the Great Depression, and it was only with help from an extended family that they were able to keep food on the table. Berger escaped into the world of music, acquiring his first viola at six. An avid reader, Berger also "plowed through book after book" in his local library. By the time he reached high school, he was already writing short stories, and upon graduating in 1944 he entered college as an electrical engineering student. In addition to these studies, he continued taking viola lessons and playing in a training orchestra, as well as working part time for an uncle.

This regimen lasted only a year before Berger took a viola position with the New Orleans Philharmonic. Other symphonic jobs followed in Ohio and Pittsburgh before he decided to return to school and ultimately get a masters degree in music education, "Although," as Berger said in Something about the Author (SATA), "I had no intention at that time of ever teaching music." Intentions proved to be irrelevant for Berger, who became a music teacher in Plainview on Long Island until 1979, when he finally quit to write full time.

Booklists/Awards
Computers, 1972
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children citations, National Science Teachers
Association/Children's Book Council

The New Water Book, 1973
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children citations, National Science Teachers
Association/Children's Book Council

Disease Detectives, 1978
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children citations, National Science Teachers
Association/Children's Book Council

The Stereo Hi-Fi Handbook, 1979
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children citations, National Science Teachers
Association/Children's Book Council

Sports Medicine, 1982
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children citations, National Science Teachers
Association/Children's Book Council

Consumer Protection Labs, 1975
Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies citations

The Story of Folk Music, 1976
Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies citations

Quasars, Pulsars, and Black Holes in Space, 1977
Library of Congress Best Children's Books citation, 1964-1978

"Early Science Big Book" Series for Children


"Ranger Rick Science Spectacular" Series for Children
Discovering Jupiter: The Amazing Collision in Space
Discovering Mars: The Amazing Story of the Red Planet
Don't Believe It! Fibs and Facts about Animals
Looking at the Planets: A Book about the Solar System

Files Taste with Their Feet (Weird Facts About Insects), 1997

Tornados Can Make It Rain Crabs (Weird Facts About Nature), 1997

Buzz! A Book About Insects, 2000

Chomp! A Book About Sharks, 1999

Dive! A Book of Deep Sea Creatures, 2000

Growl! A book About Bears

With Gilda Berger:


Scholastic Question and Answer series, 2000-2003:


Can Snakes Crawl Backwards?
Do Bears Sleep All Winter?
Do Penguins Get Frostbite?
Does It Always Rain in the Rain Forest?
Is a Dolphin a Fish?
Where Have All the Pandas Gone?
Why Do Wolves Howl?
Can You Hear a Shout in Space?
How Do Bats See in the Dark?
What Do Sharks Eat for Dinner?
What Makes An Ocean Wave?
Do All Spiders Spin Webs?
Do Tarantulas Have Teeth?
Do Tornados Really Twist?
Why Do Volcanos Blow Their Tops?
Can It Rain Cats and Dogs?
Did Dinosaurs Live in Your Backyard?
Do Stars Have Points?
Do Whales Have Belly Buttons?
How Do Flies Walk Upside Down?
Why Don't Haircuts Hurt?

Biography provided by Scholastic, Inc.


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