Barbara Kauder was one of three children in a Jewish-American family. She said she started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil. Her father died when she was young, and her mother supported the family by turning a run-down hotel into a successful business. After Somerville High School, Barbara attended Barnard College, from which she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree in English. She began her writing career with a personal column in her stepfather's weekly newspapers. In 1954, she married Gene Cohen, with whom she had three daughters. Her husband joined her mother in running the busy inn, while Barbara earned a master's degree from Rutgers University and taught high school English. She was active in local community and Jewish life, and wrote a column called "Books and Things" for New Jersey newspapers. At age 39, Barbara Cohen published her first book for children, The Carp in the Bathtub (1972). The acclaim it received inspired her to stop teaching and start writing full-time. The book became a modern classic that has been translated into many languages. Barbara Cohen wrote a total of 32 books for children and young adults, many of them based on Jewish life and the universal problems of separation, loss, and the fears of growing up. Unicorns in the Rain (1982), a futuristic fantasy based on the Noah story, demonstrated her concern about the rising violence in society. Molly’s Pilgrim (1985), one of her best-loved tales, portrays a young Russian Jewish immigrant who shows her class the real meaning of Thanksgiving and religious freedom. The 1986 film version, frequently shown on television at holiday time, won an Academy Award for Live Short Subject. (Barbara played the crossing guard in one scene in the film.) In 1982, the Association of Jewish Libraries honored Barbara Cohen’s contribution to Jewish children’s literature with the AJL Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award. Some of her books were published posthumously following her death from cancer in 1992.