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Kaye Umansky
Born (1946-12-06) 6 December 1946 (age 76)
Plymouth, Devon, England
Occupation Novelist
Notable works Pongwiffy series

Kaye Umansky (/ˈk əˈmænsk/; born 6 December 1946) is an English children's author and poet. She has written over 130 books for children and her work ranges from picture books to novels. She is best known for the Pongwiffy & Jim Series.

Early life

Kaye Umansky was born in Plymouth, Devon. Her mother was a music teacher and encouraged her to play from a young age and her father was also a teacher who encouraged her reading.

As an only child, Kaye wrote stories and plays, which she tried to get her friends to act in.

After Kaye left school, she went to London to train as a teacher. Kaye enjoyed teaching music, drama and creative writing, but not mathematics. Alongside her husband, Kaye formed a soul band and played in the evenings and at weekends; she says they "never became rich and famous, but we had a lot of fun".

She continued writing as a hobby and began writing full-time when her daughter was born.

Personal life

She lives in North London with her husband Mo, an engineer, they have been together over 30 years. She has a daughter called Ella. She has an extended family of step children and step grandchildren.


Umansky got her first children's book published in 1986. The book was a collection of songs for children and was called Phantasmagoria. Kaye still writes music books, along with plays, poems, novels and picture books. But she is best known as the creator of Pongwiffy

She cites Richmal Crompton and Terry Pratchett as two of her biggest literary influences and her style has been compared to that of Roald Dahl and Eva Ibbotson.

In 2008, she was a judge for the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize for humorous children's literature.


Originally published by A & C Black, then in paperback by Penguin Books, the first Pongwiffy book, Pongwiffy: A Witch of Dirty Habits, was published in 1987. They are now published by Bloomsbury Publishing and Pongwiffy's '21st Birthday' was recently celebrated with the release of the seventh title in the series, Pongwiffy: Back on Track.

They have been published in various countries in Europe. They have published as audio books, read by Prunella Scales, and as a cartoon TV series of 13 episodes which was first aired on ITV1 between June & September 2002. Pongwiffy was voiced by Dawn French and Pongwiffy's best friend, Sharkadder, was voiced by Jennifer Saunders.

In 2010 a new Pongwiffy title appeared in a flip-book alongside a story by Phillip Ardagh as one of the official publications for World Book Day.


The 1993 Nottinghamshire Book Award for Pongwiffy and the Spell of the Year; the 1999 Times Educational Supplement Junior Music Book Award for Three Rapping Rats; the 2005 Spoken Word Award for the audio version of The Silver Spoon Of Solomon Snow, read by Rik Mayall.

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