Serefina Under the Circumstances is an illustrated children’s book about a little girl who loved big words. It might never have existed if the poet Naomi Shilab Nye (who was in Richmond, Virginia with her 10 year old son, Madison, on a teaching gig) had not picked up the phone to introduce herself. I invited the two of them for supper and Naomi arrived bearing a present, her children’s book Sitti’s Secret, about a little Palestinian American girl visiting her grandmother in Israel. I loved it and told her that upstairs in my office I had a half-finished story about a little girl who lived with her grandmother Naomi asked to see it and after she read it she said, “Finish this right away and I will send it to my publisher.” I did as she said, Naomi sent it to Greenwillow Press, and Serafina Under the Circumstances was the result.
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (September 30, 1999)
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Phyllis Theroux is an essayist, columnist, teacher and author. She is the critically acclaimed author of "California and Other States of Grace", a memoir, two collections of essays, "Peripheral Visions" and "Nightlights: Bedtime Stories for Parents in the Dark", an anthology, "The Book of Eulogies", and a children's book, "Serefina Under the Circumstances". In 2002, a novella, "Giovanni's Light", was published at Christmas. Her newest book, "The Journal Keeper: A Memoir", will be published by Grove Atlantic in March 2010.
A contributing essayist on the "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" from 1992 - 1996, Theroux's columns, op-ed pieces, reviews and feature stories have appeared in various newspapers including The New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and International Herald Tribune. In the l980's, she was a monthly columnist for Parents Magazine. In the l990's she wrote a monthly column for House Beautiful. Her essays continue to be anthologized in numerous collections.
Following the publication of "The Book of Eulogies" in l997, Theroux created "The Great American Portraits Program", which was sponsored by the Library of Congress and toured various cities in the United States. She has been a guest professor and lecturer at numerous forums, colleges and universities.
The founder of Nightwriters, which conducts writing and creativity seminars in the United States and abroad, Theroux occasionally conducts one-on-one editorial seminars with individual writers who come to spend time working in her writer's cottage in Ashland, Virginia.
A community activist and educator, in 1989, she formed a non-profit organization, "Winners in Grade School", to attract grants and support an inner-city Washington, D. C. elementary school where she taught creative writing to fifth graders between 1989 - 1993. During that time she created a consortium of private schools to be partners in education with the school.
A graduate of Manhattanville College, with a B.A. in Philosophy, she lives with her husband, Ragan Phillips, in Ashland, Virginia.