books for young people

As a long-time journalist, Karen wrote nonfiction for young people with the belief that nonfiction brings context to a complicated world. She was particularly fascinated by social change, how it happens and why.

As a financial writer, she aimed to write from the consumer’s and investor’s point of view, trying to answer their questions, cut through the marketing hype and arm them with useful insights that would help them make better and more-rewarding decisions.

Karen posthumously received the 2020 James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. In June of 2021, Karen was honored with the May Dickson Exall Award from the Friends of the Dallas Public Library, in recognition of Karen's outstanding contributions to library and literacy in North Texas.

Karen’s Business Biography

Karen Blumenthal  

Karen Blumenthal was a financial journalist for more than 25 years. She passed away unexpectedly in May 2020.

In more than two decades with The Wall Street Journal, she covered retailing, oil and gas, housing, mergers, and bankruptcies, and was Dallas bureau chief for eight years, supervising a dozen reporters covering an eight-state territory. In that role, she coordinated and edited one of the Sept. 11, 2001, stories that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for spot-news reporting. From 2008 to 2013, she wrote the paper's Getting Going personal finance column.

She wrote three financial books for adults and nine nonfiction books for young people. As an author and reporter, she ppeared on ABC World News Tonight, the Today Show, CNN, and the PBS Nightly Business Report.

She was a graduate of Duke University and has an MBA from Southern Methodist University. She and her husband, Scott McCartney, had two daughters and lived in Dallas.

Karen’s Biography for Younger Readers (written by Karen in 2016)

I have always loved reading and writing. And I feel very lucky to be able to make a living doing just that!

  Slam Dunk

As a kid, I spent a lot of time at my Dallas Public Library branch, falling in love with the humor of Beverly Cleary and the entertaining sports stories of Matt Christopher. I devoured the two newspapers my family got every day, and as a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, I wanted for a while to be a sportswriter, something that very few women did in those days. (Later, I would discover that I much preferred being a fan than interviewing athletes!)

In elementary school, I was a nerdy, obnoxious kid with thick glasses. My favorite book was Harriet the Spy. I’m pretty sure that her outsider’s view and her secret note-taking planted some seed that led me to journalism.

In high school, I was a nerdy, obnoxious kid with contact lenses. I was editor of the school yearbook, played cello in the orchestra (badly) and had part-time jobs, first at Kentucky Fried Chicken and then selling dresses at a local department store. (I still much prefer fried chicken to dresses!)

Eager to explore beyond Texas, I went to Duke University in Durham, N.C. Because I had a fondness for numbers and an interest in business, I thought I might become an accountant. Then I wandered up to the newspaper office and ended up pretty much moving in. Over my four years there, I became the editor of The Chronicle and found the two loves of my life—journalism and my husband, Scott.

After graduation, The Dallas Morning News hired me as a suburban reporter. After a while, I moved to the business-news section, where I could put my economics major to work. A year or so later, I joined the Wall Street Journal’s Dallas bureau.

There, I covered retailing, including Wal-Mart; technology, energy and other beats and became an editor. Thinking I might like to work in the business world, I attended classes at night and on weekends, earning a master’s in business administration. But I couldn’t leave the words behind.

After leaving for two years to be business editor of The Dallas Morning News, I returned to the WSJ and was Dallas bureau chief for eight years. I left my full-time WSJ job at the end of 2006, but continued to do work for the paper, including writing a regular personal finance column from 2008 to 2013.

Somewhere along the way, frustrated with the nonfiction available to my daughters, I decided to try my hand at writing for young people, combining my interest in storytelling with the journalist’s practice of telling complicated stories in a clear way.

When I’m not reporting, writing or researching, I like to bake, needlepoint, read, and cheer loudly for the Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Duke Blue Devils, and the Texas Rangers. As a true believer in the power of reading, I volunteer with the Friends of the Dallas Public Library and serve on the Dallas Municipal Public Library Board.

Scott and I have two daughters, now grown, and we still live in Dallas. But we’ve found that reading and writing can take us almost anywhere we want to go.

Karen shared
more about
her background
Talking about
Title IX on KRGV-TV
Men, Women, and Football on KRGV-TV
"What do you want teens to learn from Steve Jobs?" Karen's acceptance speech as a 2013 YALSA Nonfiction finalist
tributes to Karen

Karen Blumenthal Dies; Journalist Turned Young Adult Author,” The New York Times

Former WSJ Bureau Chief and Columnist Karen Blumenthal Dies at 61,” The Wall Street Journal

Karen Blumenthal, author and former Dallas Morning News business editor, dies,” The Dallas Morning News

Obituary: Karen Blumenthal,” Publishers Weekly

Author, journalist, and former Chronicle leader Karen Blumenthal remembered for passion, warmth,” The Chronicle, Duke University

Obituary: Karen F. Blumenthal,” Dignity Memorial, Dallas
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