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About the Author
Mary Calhoun's first children's book, Making the Mississippi Shout, was published in 1957. Since then, she has become the award-winning author of more than fifty children's books, including A Shepherd's Gift, Flood, Cross-Country Cat, Hot-Air Henry, and other books about Henry. She and her husband live in Clark, Colorado.
Erick Ingraham's talent for drawing was encouraged by his parents and teachers starting in early childhood. His artistic mother helped him develop his appreciation of form, color, and detail in nature and art. His father brought out the practical side of his personality by explaining and showing how things work. In high school, he played both the baritone horn and the string bass, but art became his main focus once again at Kutztown State University. His favorite iflustrators include Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle, N. C. wyeth, W. Heath Robinson, and Edmund Dulac.
He began calling himself an illustrator in 1974, When he received his first book contract, for Producing Your Own Power. His first children's book was Harry and Shellburt (Macmillan). Over the years he has produced ten more children's books, nine of which he illustrated for Morrow Junior Books. He has won several state awards selected by young readers, as well as an American Book Award for Porcupine Stew, and he is widely known for his work on Mary Calhoun's four beloved Henry the Cat books.
I don't think I've ever had a stroke of genius. Maybe luck, but not genius. It's all been hard work. The brilliance comes in the writing. I am most interested in illustrating stories with strong plots. The concept should be positive and uplifting, and the setting should be wholesome, if not magical. I can tell by the second reading of a manuscript if it's going to work. I can't force that excitement. Once I find a manuscript I like, I look at it as a child would--I don't use adult skills to start the book. I get my ideas in very, very sketchy form, almost like doodling. The more time I spend on a book, the less childlike my perspective is, but I never lose that aspect, because I've already thought it all out in a childlike way.
Children's book illustrations must create a magical bridge between the fascination of the story and the actual text. I try not only to lure the child to the story for the first time but to bring the reader back again and again. I take what the text requires of me--my experience, my drawing skills-and weave it together. With clear understanding and compassion for the author's intent, I place my imagery within a realistic, well researched, and believable setting. Imagination, research, a well-thought-out arrangement, and attention to detail will continue to he integral parts of my work.
Erick Ingraham was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1950. He now lives in Southern New Hampshire.