Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Sharon Darrow  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: 1948 in Elk City, Oklahoma

-- Website --
-- Sharon Darrow on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Darrow lived in Chicago and Naperville. She taught at Columbia College Chicago from 1996 - 2003.

Biographical and Professional Information

Sharon Darrow is an artist, author, teacher and poet. She studied art in college, got a psychology degree from East Texas State University in Texarkana (now TAMU-Texarkana, a branch of Texas A & M), Later in life, she also studied writing in Vermont College’s MFA in Writing and has taught in their Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program since 1997. Her other works include short fiction, essays, and poetry in Other Voices, Rhino, Folio, Columbia Poetry Review, ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Great River Review, AWP Chronicle, and others. She also contributed to the anthologies: Home to Me: Poems Across America and In the Middle of the Middle-West: An Anthology of Creative Non-Fiction.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Old Thunder and Miss Raney
ISBN: 0789426196


Miss Raney is determined to win a ribbon for her biscuits at the Washita County fair, but to no avail, until her ever-faithful horse, Old Thunder, wins the plowhorse race.

Through The Tempests Dark and Wild: A Story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankenstein
ISBN: 0763608351

Candlewick. 2003

Haunting and deeply moving — a beautifully illustrated, fictionalized account of a formative time in the life of the teenage girl who wrote our most enduring horror story.

Long before Mary Shelley published her Gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein, in 1818, at the age of nineteen, she shared fireside ghost tales at the home of family friends in Scotland. It was there that the headstrong girl - orphaned by her mother, spurned by her stepmother, and sent away by her father - spent two of her happiest teenage years. The brooding Scottish landscape and warm family atmosphere so influenced the author’s life and art that some believe her famous novel took root there. To illuminate this period in Mary Shelley’s life, Sharon Darrow skillfully spins fiction from fact. Her words are masterfully matched by Angela Barrett’s exquisite, atmospheric, authentically detailed illustrations. The result is a rich tapestry of stories within stories - those told, those written, and more extraordinary, those lived.

The Painters of Lexieville
ISBN: 0763614378

Candlewick. 2003

Sharon Darrow’s harrowing coming-of-age tale, told from the points of view of mother, son, and daughter, is rich with metaphorical significance and - like its small-town heroine - is obstinately, everlastingly hopeful.

Lexieville, Arkansas, can hardly be called a town - it’s just a handful of shotgun houses squatting at the end of a gravel road off the two-lane highway out of Sardis. For many in the Lexie clan, this is the only place they’ve ever been, the only home they’ll ever know. Truly Lexie’s dreams of a better life, if she had them once upon a time, have worn threadbare and frail as an ancient quilt. Her devoted but hapless husband, John, long ago accepted his lot in life but hasn’t given up hope that their two children, Jobe and Pert, might lead the lives they’ve only imagined.

But Jobe has already dropped out of high school and looks to be marrying young. Only Pert still harbors a youthful and fierce determination to get out, and get out as fast as she can. She aims to wipe the detested red dust of Lexieville off her feet and put on a new life like a bright, clean, fresh coat of paint. The weight of history is hard to shrug off, however, and seems to grow heavier as Pert moves closer to independence. With little support and no role models to follow, will she have the strength to fend off generations’ worth of fatalism, and the confidence to defend her dreams?

ISBN: 0763626244

Candlewick. 2006

"Amid gritty free verse, Darrow interweaves beautifully crafted forms such as the villanelle, sestina and pantoum, whose intricate patterns suit Sissy's mournful voice." — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

For sixteen-year-old Sissy and her brother Boy, trash is a reminder of one too many sorry foster placements they've endured, a way of life they can't wait to escape. Now on the run in search of their big sister Raynell, ironically they are forced to rely on their trash-picking skills for sustenance and shelter. Reunited at last with Raynell in St. Louis, Boy and Sissy shed their old identities, reinvent themselves as graffiti artists, and splash their new names on city bridges and walls. But one night's expedition goes horribly wrong, and Sissy looks again to trash, this time as the beginning of something artful and beautiful.

Yafi's Family: an Ethiopian boy's journey of love, loss and adoption
ISBN: 0979748143

Amharic Kids. 2010

A tender story of a six-year-old Ethiopian boy's adoption and family history is a celebration of the all-encompassing love for each child that original families and adoptive parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters share.

Yafi (Yafee), his parents, and two sisters, eight-year-old Kari and ten-year-old Anna, remember his early life and his adoption experience by telling stories, revisiting memories, and looking at photographs. Yafi's Family is the story of love, loss, and a boy's discovery of how wide and how deep the bonds of family can be.

Worlds Within Words: Writing and the Writing Life
ISBN: 0998687804

Sharon Darrow. 2018

In Worlds within Words: Writing and the Writing Life, Sharon Darrow shows that a writer, through the process of discovery and revision, not only revises the work, but the self as well, and that through this creative process grows as a human being and becomes more capable of writing what must be written. She brings the knowledge and wisdom her years of experience writing for children, young adults, and adults has given her to this compilation of essays taken from a selection of lectures she presented during her twenty-year teaching career in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program of Vermont College of Fine Arts. Some topics covered are:

The Writing Life

--Source of voice in place and memory

--Living in "Negative Capability"

The Craft and the Art

--Choosing point of view

--Getting to the emotional core of character

--Melding the character's emotional journey with the action of the plot

--Strategies in sentence-making

--Some ideas about poetry--lineation, word choice/placement, and white space

The Teaching Writer

--The process approach to writing

--Can stories save lives and change the world?

Imagination, Revision, and Self-Making

--Goals, themes, and purpose

--Developing a personal Writer's Statement

--Discovery through revision

--How revision changes the writer

Going Forward

--"Risks to be Taken, Dreams to be Dreamed"


Old Thunder and Miss Raney

  • Finalist, Western Writers of America Spur Award
  • The Painters of Lexieville

  • Editors' Choice-Best of the Year YA Fiction list, KLIATT
  • Oklahoma Book Award for Young Adult Fiction, 2004
  • Trash

  • Junior Library Guild selection
  • Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers, ALA
  • Finalist, Oklahoma Book Award, 2007
  • Yafi's Family

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)