From Star Wars to Wondla: Meet Author/Illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi

Wildly inventive Tony DiTerlizzi imagines worlds of bizarre--yet mostly friendly--characters and sets them down in words and pictures to share with others. From the Star Wars universe to the Spiderwick Chronicles to his own Oz-like Wondla books, Tony’s creative genius shines brilliantly.

Developing Character(s)

Growing up in southern Florida, Tony did all the usual kid stuff, but he was REALLY interested in drawing and reading. After graduating from art school, heThe Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide, Book 1 worked for the role-playing game company TSR, illustrating gaming materials and character guides for Dungeons & Dragons. He also did work for another RPG company, White Wolf, and designed cards for Wizards of the Coasts’ Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.

Drawing for Kids

He soon began illustrating children’s books from major authors, including Peter S. Beagle’s Giant Bones, Doug Cooney’s The Beloved Dearly, and Greg Bear’s Dinosaur Summer. He did two books for Tony Johnston featuring an odd couple of friends, an alien and a possum. In 2003, he won the Caldecott Honor for his eerie illustrations to the classic poem, The Spider and the Fly. Publishers Weekly declared “DiTerlizzi has spun a visual treat that young sophisticates and adults alike will enjoy” and compared his style to that of Charles Addams of The Addams Family fame.

Picture Book Fun

In the meantime, he was working on his own books. Ted is a fantastic romp about a lonely boy (who happens to look a lot like the author) and his new, best friend Ted who knows all about having fun. Check the pages of Tony’s G is for One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book, and you will find Ted—or maybe it’s his cousin.

Spiderwick Stories

Although he drew many creatures for the game world, he also created a field guide of his own creatures. Working with author Holly Black, the two co-The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wrath of Mulgarath Book 5created The Spiderwick Chronicles. These stories are for older kids about the Grace family, who have moved to a crumbling country estate named Spiderwick. They discover that field guide and meet up with creatures who desperately want it back. The Spiderwick Chronicles, beginning with The Field Guide, were very popular and were soon made into a movie which Tony got to produce.

Welcome to Wondla

This author/illustrator has created several series of books including the amazing Wondla trilogy. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), and L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), this is the story of Eva Nine, a curious, bright girl who will steal readers’ hearts. Eva has been raised entirely by a robot named Muthr whose loving task is to see to it that her “daughter” learns to survive. Eva has never seen the sun or met even one other person, and she has lived underground her whole life until a terrible invader forces her out in the open for the first time. But the Omnipod that taught her so many things down below doesn’t recognize most of what it sees up above. Everything might be dangerous, but some of those she meets appear to be friendly. Even so, Eva Nine is in trouble and must rely on her new friends to survive being hunted by the rampaging Besteel.

Back in the Real World…

Tony lives with his wife and daughter in Amherst, Massachusetts, when he isn’t out traveling to places like Comic-Con and the National Book Festival to meet his fans. His adaptation of the original Star Wars stories, called The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight, will be out in October of 2014. You can catch the book trailer here.

There are ways to contact Tony that do not involve a plane ticket or train fare. Keep up-to-date with his latest projects on his Web page or with his Twitter or Facebook feeds. You can also email him.

Fast Facts:

Born: September 6, 1969, in Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe Search for Wondla
Education: Florida School of Arts; graduate of Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, 1992.
Family: wife, Angela; daughter, Sophia
Worked as an illustrator for TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons, White Wolf publications, and Wizards of the Coasts’ Magic: The Gathering collectible card game
Won the Caldecott Honor for illustrating the poem, The Spider and the Fly
The Spiderwick Chronicles was made into a film in 2008.
Home: Amherst, Massachusetts

Learn More About This Author on the Web:

Geek Dad Interview

National Book Festival

Reading Is Fundamental: Tony DiTerlizzi

Scholastic’s Interview with Tony DiTerlizzi

Tony DiTerlizzi on YouTube