Author Profiles

Daring and Dangerous Joan Aiken

Born on September 4, 1924, in Rye, Sussex, England, Joan was the daughter of famed American writer, Conrad Aiken. She decided to be a writer when she was five years old and kept writing to the end of her days.

Growing up in a house filled with art and literature, she thoroughly enjoyed being homeschooled during her early years. When she was 12, she was sent to boarding school at the improbably named Wychwood near Oxford, England.

Madeleine L'Engle: Once Upon a Lifetime

She was born Madeleine Camp in grand old New York City on November 29, 1918. Young Madeleine took her meals on a tray in her room with her beloved Nanny, in the English fashion. Often at night, her father and mother would go out to the theatre. Other times, the theatre and literary world would come to them. Madeleine's mother, a Southern belle, played the grand piano wonderfully, and the family apartment would be filled with music and friends.

William Joyce: The Reel Deal

Born December 11, 1957, William (Bill) Joyce's dream is to be remembered for "a significant contribution to the cause of global silliness." (Publisher's Weekly)
His books, TV shows and movies, from George Shrinks to Robots, have amazed and amused audiences for over 20 years.

Bill got an early start writing and illustrating his own stories. "Billy's Booger" was a popular picture book with his elementary school classmates. The plot is simple enough but guaranteed to get yucks: Billy sneezes out a slimy, smart-aleck booger who becomes his friend. The kids did love it, but unlike his later work, all it earned Bill was a trip to the principal's office. But the booger's adventures continue. These days Bill uses those stories and pix to break the ice at his school visits, which they do with cheerful grossness. There's even talk of reincarnating Billy's Booger as a genuine picture book.

David Wiesner: He's Still "the Kid Who Can Draw"

Pick up a handful of David Wiesner's books, and you'll get a glimpse of the kid who knew in third grade that he wanted to be an artist. But not just any artist--an artist full of fun and imagination. He remembers that there were lots of kinds of paintings he'd like to try:
"I'd have turtles with paintbrushes tied to their backs walking around on a big sheet of paper (I got chuckles from the class and the teacher). Or I'd fill squirt guns with different colored paints at shoot at the canvas. I actually tried this with friends. Well it sounded like a good idea."

The Merry Days of Howard Pyle, (1853 - 1911)

He drew pirates and knights, fair ladies and fairy tales. His illustrated books on Robin Hood and King Arthur are still treasured by children today.

At the Start

Howard Pyle grew up in Wilmington, Delaware surrounded by family and friends. His mother read to him all sorts of marvelous stories, and they had illustrations from the magazines pinned to the walls of their home.

From Village to Village with Jane Kurtz

Ethiopia-the faraway land on the horn of Africa, was Jane Kurtz's home when she was a young girl. Her parents were missionaries there, and her playmates were dark-skinned, smiling children. They mostly lived in grass-covered huts with dirt floors covered with mats—as did Jane and her family. The boys might work as cattle herders; the girls would help their mothers with cooking until it was time for them to be married.

The Childtimes of Eloise Greenfield

When she was a very young woman, Eloise asked her grandma to tell her stories about growing up in the countryside of North Carolina. Eloise was born there, too—in a little place called Parmele. In her grandparents' day, the Parmele lumber mill provided lots of work for people. But with the trees gone and the mill just a memory, the mostly black families who lived there got by as best they could.

Brian Jacques: Builder of Redwall

Dockside in Liverpool, England, was an exciting place to be a kid. Growing up there, young Brian Jacques (pronounced "Jacks") was surrounded by a loving and hardworking family. When his seafaring uncles would stop by between voyages, Brian heard tales of faraway places and amazing adventures. He listened, fascinated as his relatives "painted pictures with words."

About Alice Provensen

Provensen and Provensen. Alice and Martin. Martin and Alice. Two illustrators and writers working so closely together that their styles were indistinguishable. It was the same style really, gentle drawings so delightful in their clarity that they subtly underscored the text of the dozens of children's books that they illustrated.

Ashley Bryan: Stories for the Spirit

Ashley Bryan is a man who uses his words and pictures to lift up readers' spirits. When he enters a room and starts to tell stories from Africa's past, he transports his audience to a faraway, long ago time to learn valuable lessons for today. His talents illuminate wisdom earned from a lifetime of hard work.