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Jenkins, Steve 1952-

Jenkins, Steve 1952-

Personal

Born 1952, in Hickory, NC; son of Alvin (a physics professor) and Margaret (a bank employee and homemaker) Jenkins; married Robin Page (a graphic designer and author); children: Page, Alec, Jamie. Education: North Carolina State University, B.A. and M.A (graphic design).

Addresses

Home—Boulder, CO. E-mail—steve@jenkinspage.com.

Career

Graphic designer; illustrator and author. Exhibitions: Works exhibited in Society of Illustrators Original Art Show, 2004.

Awards, Honors

Scientific American Young Readers Book Award, 1996, for Big and Little; Outstanding Trade Book for Children citation, National Science Teachers Association, 1998, for What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?; Recommended Books inclusion, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), 1998, for Animal Dads; Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children's Book designation, both 2000, both for The Top of the World; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year selection, and Capitol Choice selection, both 2002, and NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book citation, 2003, all for Life on Earth; (with Robin Page) Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended honor, NCTE Notable Book in the Language Arts designation, and Caldecott Honor designation, all 2004, all for What Do You Do with a Tail like This?; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year, 2004, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2005, both for Next Stop, Nep-

tune by Alvin Jenkins; Orbis Pictus Honor designation, New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, Chicago Public Library Best-of-the-Best designation, and Natural History Best Book for Young Readers, all 2004, all for Actual Size; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book designation, 2004, and ALA Top Ten Sci-Tech Books for Youth designation, and International Reading Association Children's Choice, 2005, all for I See a Kookaburra!; New York Public Library 100 Titles for Read- ing and Sharing selection, and Parents' Choice Award, both 2005, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2006, all for Prehistoric Actual Size; (with Page) New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year, and Parenting magazine Book of the Year, all 2006, all for Move!; Orbis Pictus Recommended designation, and New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, both 2008, both for Living Color; Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor designation, 2008, for Vulture View.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1994.

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1995.

Looking Down, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Big and Little, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.

What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

(Coauthor with wife, Robin Page) Animals in Flight, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

(Coauthor with Robin Page) What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.

Actual Size, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Prehistoric Actual Size, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

(Coauthor with Robin Page) I See a Kookaburra!: Discovering Animal Habitats around the World, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

(Coauthor with Robin Page) Move!, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Dogs and Cats (two stories, bound inverted), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Living Color, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

(Coauthor with Robin Page) Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Dad, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Mom, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My School, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Town, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Pet, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1992.

Marc Robinson, Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!: What Does It Sound like to You?, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1993.

Linda Capus Riley, Elephants Swim, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Sneed B. Collard, Animal Dads, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Pat Mora, This Big Sky, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Sneed B. Collard, Making Animal Babies, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.

Deborah Lee Rose, Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Anne F. Rockwell, Bugs Are Insects, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Deborah Lee Rose, One Nighttime Sea, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Wendy Pfeffer, Wiggling Worms, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Brenda Z. Guiberson, Rain, Rain, Rain Forest, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Alvin Jenkins, Next Stop, Neptune: Experiencing the Solar System, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Betsy Franco, Bird Songs: A Backwards Counting Book, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2006.

April Pulley Sayre, Vulture View, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.

Valerie Worth, Animal Poems, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2007.

Betsy Franco, Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails: Shapes—Naturally, Margaret K. McElderry Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Adaptations

A Braille version of The Top of the World was produced by National Braille Press (Boston, MA), 2000; a sound recording of The Top of the World was produced by Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped (Milwaukee, WI), 2000.

Sidelights

Steve Jenkins, an award-winning illustrator and author of children's books, is known for his ability to imbue his artwork with his fascination with the natural world. As he noted in his acceptance speech for the prestigious Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction: "In my books, I try to present straightforward information in a context that makes sense to children. Children don't need anyone to give them a sense of wonder; they already have that. But they do need a way to incorporate the various bits and pieces of knowledge they acquire into some logical picture of the world. For me, science provides the most elegant and satisfying way to construct this picture." In addition to The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest, the work that earned Jenkins his Boston Globe/Horn Book honor, he is also the author/illustrator of books that include What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, and I See a Kookaburra!: Discovering Animal Habitats around the World, the last coauthored with Jenkins' wife, writer Robin Page.

Jenkins inherited his love of both science and art from his father, Alvin Jenkins, a physicist who was also, as the author/illustrator stated in his speech, a "frustrated artist." As a child, Jenkins was fascinated with science and nature and loved to draw and paint. The elder Jenkins encouraged his son in both pursuits, and father and son collaborated on many science projects. More recently, they collaborated on the book Next Stop, Neptune: Experiencing the Solar System, Alvin Jenkins writing the text that pairs with his son's dramatic art.

As a child, Jenkins believed that he would become a scientist. Then, while a student at North Carolina State University, he had a change of heart and decided, instead, to major in design. After marrying Page, whom he met during college, Jenkins moved to New York City, where he and his wife eventually established a graphic design firm. After twenty years working in design and raising two children, Jenkins "truly stumbled into making children's books," as he noted in his speech. For Jenkins, working as an illustrator has allowed him to "unite my early interest in science and my chosen career of creating art." As he recalled in an interview for the Children's Literature Web site: "While working on a book design project for Stewart, Tabori & Chang, I suggested to the editor that I also illustrate the books we were designing, and she agreed." It didn't take long for Jenkins to submit a proposal to another publisher, and his career as a children's book author and illustrator was launched. He credits his own curious children with inspiring many of his books for young people.

Jenkins' eye for design and his skilled use of paper collage has garnered wide acclaim. In their respective reviews of Looking Down and Big and Little for School Library Journal, John Peters and Caroline Ward made particular note of the unusual choice of medium. "Using neat, sharp-edged paper collages and pure, simple colors, Jenkins convincingly conveys, better than most aerial photography, both a sense of height and an almost vertiginous feeling of movement," wrote Peters, while Ward dubbed his "distinctive cut-paper collages … real showstoppers." In a review of Actual Size for Horn Book, Lauren E. Raece wrote that the author/illustrator's "signature cut-paper collages are once again amazing." Although explanations or additional important facts are often included, Jenkins incorporates such text in sidebars or closing paragraphs, allowing his visual theme to flow freely.

Jenkins is frequently hailed for the content and composition of his books for children. In Looking Down, for example, he combines the unusual with the factual in a wordless book that takes its audience on a ride from the outer reaches of space to spots on a ladybug's back as seen from the perspective of a child looking through a magnifying glass. Elizabeth S. Watson, writing in Horn Book, noted that, "set in the context of an astronaut viewing a rapidly approaching Earth, the book provides a perspective easily understood without a text" and will serve as "a welcome addition to the collections of young science enthusiasts." In Kirkus Reviews a critic wrote that, with its survey of planetary ecosystems, Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest "provides jaw-dropping facts and extremely elegant paper collages to illustrate the amazing natural world." Reviewing the same book for School Library Journal, Anne Chapman Callaghan commented that Jenkins' "eye-catching introduction to geography" gives "young readers a full understanding of how amazing these natural wonders are."

Many of Jenkins' books deal with concepts, such as size, shape, and color. In Big and Little, Actual Size, and Prehistoric Actual Size, he uses creatures from the animal kingdom to illustrate concepts of relative size. Through contrasting, colorful, collage images—such as an ostrich and a hummingbird in the case of Big and Little or a plankton and a dinosaur in the case of Prehistoric Actual Size—and a spare text, he shows each animal in a perspective relative to another, providing the young reader with a cohesive concept. "As well as offering an inventive exploration of the concepts of big and little," Ward commented of Big and Little in School Library Journal, Jenkins' work "serves as an introduction to a group of animals, several of which are endangered." Calling Jenkins' decision to depict gigantic creatures through bits and pieces a "masterstroke," Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson wrote that Actual Size constitutes "an unusual, unusually effective tool for connecting children to nature's astonishing variety." Dona Ratterree held a similar view, writing in School Library Journal that Jenkins' "beautiful book is an enticing way to … illustrate to budding scientists the importance of comparison, measurement, observation, and record keeping."

Distinguishing a rainbow of hues is the challenge at hand for young children in Living Color, and Jenkins' lush collage art reflects a rich spectrum. Set against a white background, his collage animals range over sixty creatures from sloths to stonefish to sea urchins, creatures for which color is a key to survival in their natural habitat. "Jenkins's design, always striking, reaches the heights of inspiration with this offering," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer of the book, while in Publishers Weekly a critic exclaimed that the author/illustrator "once again astounds with his amazing lifelike" images.

In Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate Jenkins delves into animal behavior, and topics range from a honeybee's dance that tells her hive-mates where she has located food to what a cat is saying when it rubs its head on its owner's leg. "There are so many different ways and reasons why animals communicate," wrote Hazel Rochman in Booklist. "Each double-page spread could be expanded into a book of its own. Children will find this an exciting introduction to the wonder of zoology, and many will go from here to learn more."

In Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals and Dogs and Cats Jenkins ranges from the rare to the commonplace, finding magic in both. In Almost Gone he features twenty-one endangered animals, capturing each one in his cut-paper collage art and describing, in few words, its main characteristic or the reason it is threatened. Remarking on the texture created in his art, Stephanie Zvirin wrote in Booklist that the colored paper Jenkins selects for each image is "carefully matched to catch subtle variations of an animal's skin or a sense of the shagginess of its coat." In School Library Journal Gloria Koster praised Almost Gone as "informative as well as visually stunning," adding that Jenkins creates additional impact by noting the actual number of each creature still remaining on Earth. No such notation is needed for Dogs and Cats, a two-sided book that serves as what Booklist contributor Michael Cart described as "a delightful and insightful grab bag of facts about a human's best friends." On one side is Dogs, on the other is Cats, and both feature collage illustrations and information about the variety within each species. In his accompanying text, Jenkins discusses the way each animal found its way into man's life and heart, its evolution, and its unique habits and characteristics. Citing the book's "lively narrative," School Library Journal critic Kara Schaff Dean also deemed the collage art in Dogs and Cats "stunning" and full of "vitality," while a Kirkus Reviews writer praised Jenkins' "cleanly innovative design."

Jenkins takes a broad view in Life on Earth, presenting a guide to evolution that is geared for younger readers.

To make this complex concept understandable, he begins with a time line showing how recently humans appeared relative to the history of Earth. He then goes on to cover basics such as fossil evidence and natural selection, while his illustrations show the diversity of the planet's plant and animal species. Jenkins' "explanations of science concepts are comprehensive and comprehensible, making good use of his excellent illustration," wrote Danielle J. Ford in her review for Horn Book, while a Kirkus Reviews critic considered the volume "a first-class foray into an often-neglected topic." Jenkins "illuminates another corner of the science world" according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and Zvirin described Life on Earth as "clever, eye-catching, and extremely effective." Although New York Times Book Review contributor Christine Hepperman faulted Jenkins for avoiding the controversy surrounding evolutionary theory, in School Library Journal, Patricia Manning deemed the book "a polished exposition of a difficult, often controversial scientific concept." Overall, Hepperman concluded, Life on Earth is "an accessible introduction to a complex topic [that] taps into children's sense of wonder about the world, which is the great starting point for scientific exploration."

In The Top of the World, Jenkins leaves the animal kingdom to take readers on a trek through rugged terrain and a harsh environment. Although he realized that writing a mountaineering book targeted to children would be challenging, he saw it as an opportunity to cover many different scientific concepts on a journey up the side of Mount Everest. "Everest allowed me to introduce climate, geology, geography, continental drift, altitude, and history in a book that is both an adventure and a survival story," he commented in his Boston Globe/Horn Book Award acceptance speech. In presenting the prestigious award, judge Susan P. Bloom commented of the volume: "Once the viewer experiences the raw majesty and mystery Jenkins evokes with his extraordinary paper collage, it is nigh impossible to believe any other media could more powerfully summon forth the breathtaking, dangerous, truly awesome terrain of Mount Everest."

While Jenkins has collaborated with other authors since beginning his work in children's books, he has more recently begun collaborating with his wife. Their first joint venture, Animals in Flight, explores different styles of wings—those employed by creatures ranging from dragonflies to bats to birds—and the basic mechanics of animal flight. The book appeals to a range of reader: A large picture of each animal is accompanied by large-format text, while smaller pictures link to a smaller text containing more scientific detail. Although Gillian Engberg noted in Booklist that the "smaller font often seems too small," she concluded that Animals in Flight is "an attractive, informative choice." Ellen Heath praised the book in School Library Journal, proclaiming Jenkins' illustrations to be "perfect for this exploration of wings," and a Children's Literature Web site reviewer dubbed the work "a fine introduction for a variety of age groups."

Page and Jenkins continue their collaboration with What Do You Do with a Tail like This? Here each page features an interesting, close-up feature of an animal's body part, followed by an illustration of the entire animal alongside a text that provides detailed animal facts. Tim Arnold, in his review for Booklist, called the title "another exceptional paper-cut science book from Jenkins." "Like [Jenkins'] previous books, it's a stunner," Arnold added. In School Library Journal, Wanda Meyer-Hines praised it as "yet another eye-opening" collaboration and a critic for Kirkus Reviews called the book a "display of genius." What Do You Do with a Tail like This? was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2004.

Other collaborations between Page and Jenkins include I See a Kookaburra!, an exploration of diverse ecosystems, and Move!, which like Animals in Flight explores the variations in the way different creatures achieve motion. From swimming and flying to hopping, sliding, and waddling, Move! introduces a variety of creatures and provides basic information that explains the reason each form of transportation developed. Remarking on the "eye-popping" quality in Jenkins and Page's art, Susan Weitz noted in School Library Journal that Move! "is gorgeous and educational," while Booklist contributor GraceAnne A. DeCandido predicted that the "lively collaboration" will inspire young readers to imitate the actions explored. "Another intimate look at the natural world" can be found in I See a Kookaburra!, according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. Here Jenkins and Page transport readers from desert to jungle, savanna to forest, and tide pool to pond. The Publishers Weekly critic was impressed by the "straightforward language … and vivid, economical descriptions" linking the couple's characteristic attractive collages, while School Library Journal critic Joy Fleishhacker wrote that the book combines "clearly presented information with seek-and-find fun" via "breathtaking" double-spread collage art. "The bright and playful design will attract an enthusiastic audience," predicted Shelle Rosenfeld in her Booklist review of I See a Kookaburra!

In his interview on the Children's Literature Web site, Jenkins explained how the collaboration between him and Page works. "I'm more linear, and with the writing I always have to keep cutting away. My tendency is to keep adding information. She comes at it from the other end, keeping things simple and making intuitive connections. She does concept development, designs the pages, and works out how the book flows. When it gets down to the end her work is much more precise."

Describing his own work process, Jenkins explained that he starts with photographs from books or those taken while visiting zoos or aquariums. Once he has established an overall plan, he begins putting things on paper. "I do an outline drawing based on the references and how I want them to look on the page. Then a quick color setting to figure out what paper I'm going to use in the collage. Finally I cut and tear," he told the online interviewer. He also explained part of the appeal of collage art for young readers: "They are filling in part of the information. So not only is it satisfying for me to find a piece of paper that is at the same time a hippopotamus's skin, but I think kids get the same satisfaction from filling in the details and making it into a hippo as well as a piece of paper."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1994, Chris Sherman, review of Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions, p. 330; February 1, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 1003; October 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Big and Little, p. 358; December 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 633; August, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 201; April 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest, p. 1405; May 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate, p. 1754; December 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Animals in Flight, p. 735; December 15, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, p. 759; February 15, 2003, Tim Arnold, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 1068; May 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Actual Size, p. 1621; August, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of I See a Kookaburra!: Discovering Animal Habitats around the World, p. 2032; October 15, 2004, Diane Foote, review of Prehistoric Actual Size, p. 47; December 1, 2005, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals, p. 67; March 15, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Move!, p. 50; May 1, 2007, Michael Cart, review of Dogs and Cats, p. 88; August, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Living Color, p. 70.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1995, Heather McCammonel-Watts, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 348; December, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 131; June, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, "Rising Star."; December, 2001, review of Animals in Flight, p. 143.

Horn Book, July-August, 1995, Ellen Fader, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 477; November, 1995, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Looking Down, p. 734; March, 1999, Lilly Robinson, review of The Top of the World, p. 244; January, 2000, Steve Jenkins, transcript of Boston Globe/Horn Book Award acceptance speech, p. 51; September-October, 2002, Danielle J. Ford, review of Life on Earth, p. 595; May-June, 2004, Lauren E. Raece, review of Actual Size, p. 345; May-June, 2005, Danielle J. Ford, review of I See a Kookaburra!, p. 350; January-February, 2006, Daniel J. Ford, review of Prehistoric Actual Size, p. 101; March-April, 2006, Danielle J. Ford, review of Almost Gone, p. 206; May-June, 2006, Betty Carter, review of Move!, p. 344; May-June, 2007, Claire E. Gross, review of Dogs and Cats, p. 302.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1997, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 1458; July 15, 1998, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 1036; October 15, 2001, review of Animals in Flight, p. 1485; October 1, 2002, review of Life on Earth, p. 1471; January 15, 2003, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 142; July 1, 2003, review of One Nighttime Sea: An Ocean Counting Rhyme, p. 913; May 1, 2004, review of Actual Size, p. 443; May 1, 2005, review of I See a Kookaburra!, p. 540; August 15, 2005, review of Prehistoric Actual Size, p. 916; January 1, 2006, review of Almost Gone, p. 42; April 1, 2006, review of Move!, p. 349; April 15, 2007, review of Dogs and Cats; July 15, 2007, review of Living Color.

New York Times Book Review, November 12, 1995, Patricia McCormick, review of Looking Down, p. 32; October 17, 1999, Christopher S. Wren, review of The Top of the World, p. 31; March 9, 2003, Christine Hepperman, "Evolution for Beginners," p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, November 10, 1997, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 73; May 10, 1999, review of The Top of the World, p. 68; November 11, 2002, review of Life on Earth, p. 63; April 25, 2005, review of I See a Kookaburra!, p. 56; April 9, 2007, review of Dogs and Cats, p. 53; July 15, 2007, review of Living Color, p. 164; November 5, 2007, review of Vulture View, p. 63.

School Library Journal, September, 1994, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie, p. 208; September, 1995, John Peters, review of Looking Down, p. 179; October, 1996, Caroline Ward, review of Big and Little, p. 99; November, 1997, Sally Bates Goodroe, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 109; August, 1998, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 151; May, 2001, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Slap, Squeak, and Scatter, p. 143; November, 2001, Ellen Heath, review of Animals in Flight, p. 146; December, 2002, Patricia Manning, review of Life on Earth, p. 124; March, 2003, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 220; June, 2004, Dona Ratterree, review of Actual Size, p. 128; May, 2005, Joy Fleishhacker, review of I See a Kookaburra!, p. 108; December, 2005, Steven Engelfried, review of Prehistoric Actual Size, p. 128; February, 2006, Gloria Koster, review of Almost Gone, p. 120; June, 2006, Susan Weitz, review of Move!, p. 136; May, 2007, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Dogs and Cats, p. 118; December, 2007, Robin L. Gibson, review of Vulture View, p. 115.

Teaching Children Mathematics, April, 1997, Eunice Hendrix-Martin, "Students Use Their Bodies to Measure Animals," p. 426.

ONLINE

Children's Literature Web site,http://www.childrenslit.com/ (September 3, 2004), interview with Jenkins.

Steve Jenkins Home Page,http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com (March 28, 2008).

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Jenkins, Steve 1952-

JENKINS, Steve 1952-

Personal

Born 1952, in North Carolina; son of Alvin Jenkins (a physics professor) and a homemaker; married Robin Page (an author); three children. Education: School of Design, North Carolina State University, received B.A. and M.A.

Addresses

Home Boulder, CO. Agent c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116-3764.

Career

Graphic designer; illustrator and author.

Awards, Honors

Booklist Editor's Choice citation, 1995, for Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, and 2001, for Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate; Scientific American Young Readers Book Award, 1996, for Big and Little; Booklist Editor's Choice citation, 1997, and Outstanding Trade Book for Children citation, National Science Teachers Association, 1998, for What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?; named to list of recommended books, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), 1998, for Animal Dads; School Library Journal best books of the year citation, 1999, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, and American Library Association Notable Children's Book designation, both 2000, all for The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest; Booklist Editor's Choice citation, and School Library Journal best books of the year citation, both 2002, and NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book citation, 2003, all for Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution; Caldecott Honor book, 2004, for What Do You Do with a Tail like This?

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1994.

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1995.

Looking Down, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Big and Little, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.

What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

(With wife, Robin Page) Animals in Flight, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

(With wife, Robin Page) What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.

(With father, Alvin Jenkins) Next Stop, Neptune: Experiencing the Solar System, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Actual Size, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

ILLUSTRATOR

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Dad, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Mom, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My School, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Town, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1991.

Janet Horowitz and Kathy Faggella, My Pet, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1992.

Marc Robinson, Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!: What Does It Sound like to You?, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1993.

Linda Capus Riley, Elephants Swim, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Sneed B. Collard, Animal Dads, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Pat Mora, This Big Sky, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Sneed B. Collard, Making Animal Babies, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.

Deborah Lee Rose, Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Anne F. Rockwell, Bugs Are Insects, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Deborah Lee Rose, One Nighttime Sea, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Wendy Pfeffer, Wiggling Worms, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Brenda Z. Guiberson, Rain, Rain, Rain Forest, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Adaptations

A braille version of The Top of the World was produced by National Braille Press (Boston, MA), 2000; a sound recording of The Top of the World was produced by Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped (Milwaukee, WI), 2000.

Sidelights

Steve Jenkins had been illustrating children's books for a mere nine years, and his stint as a children's book author was even more brief when he was awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction for The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest. In his acceptance speech, Jenkins commented, "In my books, I try to present straightforward information in a context that makes sense to children. Children don't need anyone to give them a sense of wonder; they already have that. But they do need a way to incorporate the various bits and pieces of knowledge they acquire into some logical picture of the world. For me, science provides the most elegant and satisfying way to construct this picture."

Jenkins inherited his love of both science and art from his father, a physicist who was also, as he stated in his speech, a "frustrated artist." As a child, Jenkins was fascinated with science and nature and loved to draw and paint. The elder Jenkins encouraged his son in both pursuits, and father and son collaborated on science projects when Jenkins was young. According to a biography on the Houghton Mifflin Web site, the Jenkins's "more successful efforts involved capturing and drawing insects and small reptiles, assembling animal scrap-books, and observing an eclipse."

Jenkins grew up believing he would become a scientist; however, in college he decided, on a "whim," to major in design. He and his wife, Robin Page, whom he had met at college, moved to New York, NY, where they both worked in commercial design. "I loved it, and I worked contentedly as a graphic designer for twenty years without thinking too much about the path that I had chosen," Jenkins commented in his speech. "I truly stumbled into making children's books and feel incredibly lucky to have found a way to unite my early interest in science and my chosen career of creating art."

Jenkins and Page's design projects included book design; as Jenkins explained in an interview on the Children's Literature Web site: "While working on a book design project for Stewart, Tabori & Chang, I suggested to the editor that I also illustrate the books we were designing, and she agreed." It didn't take long for Jenkins to submit a proposal to another publisher, and his career as a children's book author and illustrator was launched.

Jenkins' eye for design and use of an unusual medium for bookspaper collagehas garnered wide acclaim. In their respective reviews of Looking Down and Big and Little for School Library Journal, John Peters and Caroline Ward made particular note of the medium. "Using neat, sharp-edged paper collages and pure, simple colors, Jenkins convincingly conveys, better than most aerial photography, both a sense of height and an almost vertiginous feeling of movement," wrote Peters. In her review, Ward commented that Jenkins' "distinctive cut-paper collages are real show-stoppers . Through an artful use of color and texture, the marbleized skin of the python and the wrinkled hide of the crocodile seem amazingly real." In a review of Actual Size for Horn Book, Lauren E. Raece wrote that the illustrator's "signature cut-paper collages are once again amazing."

Jenkins has also been hailed for the content and composition of the books he has created. In Looking Down, he combines the unusual with the factual in a wordless book that takes its audience on a ride from the outer reaches of space to spots on a ladybug's back seen from the perspective of a child looking through a magnifying glass. Elizabeth S. Watson, reviewing the book in Horn Book, wrote: "Set in the context of an astronaut viewing a rapidly approaching Earth, the book provides a perspective easily understood without a text. Rivers, coastlines, city blocks, and farms surrounded by neatly planted fieldsall have their places on planet Earth. Beautiful, engaging, and full of possibilities for discussion, the book will be a welcome addition to the collections of young science enthusiasts."

A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest "provides jaw-dropping facts and extremely elegant paper collages to illustrate the amazing natural world. Readers are introduced to the deepest ocean trench, the highest mountain , the longest river, the hottest patch, the coldest, the most active volcanoes, the most extreme tides." Anne Chapman Callaghan, writing for School Library Journal, commented that the visuals of the book give its "young readers a full understanding of how amazing these natural wonders are. This eye-catching introduction to geography will find a lot of use in libraries and classrooms."

In several of his works, Jenkins uses sidebars or paragraphs at the end of the book to provide explanations or additional important facts in a manner that allows the visual theme to flow freely. One such book is Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie, which details seventeen different superstitions about animalsa black cat walking across your path brings bad luck, for example. As Sandra Welzenbach commented in School Library Journal, the appended information about how, when, where, and why such a superstition began makes this "a great learning and teaching tool and an enjoyable picture book."

In Big and Little, Jenkins' subjects are creatures from the animal kingdom that give the reader a marvelous concept of size. Using contrasting, colorful, collage imagessuch as an ostrich and a hummingbird, a sea otter and an elephant sealJenkins applies just one line of text to comment on the contrasts. Then, in the final pages, he puts all the animals into perspective relative to each other, providing the young reader with a cohesive concept. In this book, Jenkins also shares his love of and respect for nature. "As well as offering an inventive exploration of the concepts of big and little," wrote Ward in School Library Journal, "this title serves as an introduction to a group of animals, several of which are endangered. At the back of the book, a paragraph about each one extends the brief text."

Along the same lines, Biggest, Strongest, Fastest portrays the beauty of the animal kingdom while providing an excellent learning forum. In Teaching Children Mathematics Eunice Hendrix-Martin described the mathematical thought processes utilized by students with whom she has used the book as a tool to develop skills such as estimating, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, data collection, organization, and usage. "I shared this book with my third-and fourth-grade students, hoping it would spark an interest in using these facts to investigate comparative lengths and heights. After we read the book, a lively discussion took place about which animal the students found most interesting." Then the children were asked if they could use their own height to measure some of the animals in order to understand how big they really are. Hendrix-Martin wrote: "Biggest, Strongest, Fastest provided animal facts that were of interest to students and that could be used in a variety of ways.By using themselves as a unit of measure, students had a real-world connection to the problem."

In Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate Jenkins delves into animal behavior, and topics range from a honeybee's dance that tells her hive-mates where she found food and how they can find it too to what a cat is saying when it rubs its head on its owner's leg. "There are so many different ways and reasons why animals communicate," wrote Hazel Rochman in Booklist. "Each double-page spread could be expanded into a book of its own. Children will find this an exciting introduction to the wonder of zoology, and many will go from here to learn more."

Jenkins focuses on one of the big pictures of science in Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution. In creating one of the few books to contain a guide to evolution geared for younger readers, Jenkins had to take a complex concept and make it understandable. The book begins with a time line showing how recently humans appeared in the history of the Earth. The text then goes on to cover basics such as fossil evidence and natural selection, while the illustrations show the diversity of the planet's plant and animal species. Jenkins' "explanations of science concepts are comprehensive and comprehensible, making good use of his excellent illustration," praised Danielle J. Ford in her review for Horn Book, while a Kirkus Reviews critic considered the volume "a first-class foray into an often-neglected topic." Jenkins "illuminates another corner of the science world" according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, while Stephanie Zvirin described Life on Earth in Booklist as "Clever, eye-catching, and extremely effective." While in her review for School Library Journal, Patricia Manning considered the book "a polished exposition of a difficult, often controversial scientific concept," New York Times Book Review contributor Christine Hepperman faulted Jenkins for avoiding the controversy surrounding evolutionary theory. Overall, Hepperman concluded, Life on Earth is "an accessible introduction to a complex topic [that] taps into children's sense of wonder about the world, which is the great starting point for scientific exploration."

In his Boston Globe-Horn Book award-winner The Top of the World, Jenkins leaves the animal kingdom to take his readers on a trek through rugged terrain and a harsh environment. Jenkins admitted that writing a mountaineering book targeted to children was a new challenge. He became excited, however, when he realized how many different scientific concepts he could cover on the journey up the mountain. "Everest allowed me to introduce climate, geology, geography, continental drift, altitude, and history in a book that is both an adventure and a survival story," he commented in his acceptance speech.

In presenting the Boston Globe-Horn Book award to the author, who calls himself an "armchair adventurer with a voyeuristic interest in alpine mountaineering," judge Susan P. Bloom summed up The Top of the World, and her words could be applied to Jenkins' work in general. "Once the viewer experiences the raw majesty and mystery Jenkins evokes with his extraordinary paper collage, it is nigh impossible to believe any other media could more powerfully summon forth the breathtaking, dangerous, truly awesome terrain of Mount Everest. But the book's beauty belies the wealth of knowledge it reveals: each page has its main text, most often augmented by information brilliantly incorporated into sidebars. The final page shows a jubilant climber, ice pick raised high in victory. Jenkins so dazzlingly designs this book that the victory belongs to each reader."

While Jenkins has collaborated with many authors as an illustrator, in 2001 he expanded these projects to include his wife, Robin Page. Their first title, Animals in Flight, explores different styles of wingsfrom dragon-flies to bats to birdsand some of the mechanics behind flight. A large picture of the animal is accompanied by large text, while smaller pictures accompany a smaller text describing more of the scientific details of flight. Several reviewers had mixed feelings on the success of this format, Gillian Engberg noting in Booklist, that the "smaller font often seems too small"; nonetheless the critic concluded that the book is "an attractive, informative choice." Ellen Heath praised Animals in Flight in School Library Journal, proclaiming Jenkins' illustrations to be "perfect for this exploration of wings." A reviewer on the Children's Literature Web site considered Animals In Flight "a fine introduction for a variety of age groups."

Page and Jenkins continue their collaboration with What Do You Do with a Tail like This? in which each page features an interesting, close-up feature of an animal's body part, followed by an illustration of the entire animal alongside a text that provides detailed animal facts. Tim Arnold, in his review for Booklist, called the title "another exceptional paper-cut science book from Jenkins," adding that, "Like [Jenkins'] previous books, it's a stunner." Wanda Meyers-Hines in School Library Journal called the collaboration "yet another eye-opening book," and a critic for Kirkus Reviews considered the work a "display of genius." What Do You Do with a Tail like This? was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2004.

In his interview on the Children's Literature Web site, Jenkins commented about how the collaboration works. "I'm more linear, and with the writing I always have to keep cutting away. My tendency is to keep adding information. She comes at it from the other end, keeping things simple and making intuitive connections. She does concept development, designs the pages, and works out how the book flows. When it gets down to the end her work is much more precise."

Jenkins has also had the opportunity to collaborate with his father on a science project, as he did when he was a child. The result of their efforts was published as Next Stop, Neptune. Tapping the elder Jenkins' expertise on astronomy, the pair creates a tour of the planets of the solar system, and points out unique sites, such as a mountain on Mars that is nearly three times as tall as the mountain on earth that Jenkins is perhaps most associated withMount Everest.

When describing his work process on the Children's Literature Web site, Jenkins explained that he starts with photographs from books or those he takes himself while visiting zoos or aquariums. Once he has established his overall ideas in his head, he begins putting things on paper. "I do an outline drawing based on the references and how I want them to look on the page. Then a quick color setting to figure out what paper I'm going to use in the collage. Finally I cut and tear," he told the online interviewer. He also explained part of the appeal of collage art for young readers: "They are filling in part of the information. So not only is it satisfying for me to find a piece of paper that is at the same time a hippopotamus's skin, but I think kids get the same satisfaction from filling in the details and making it into a hippo as well as a piece of paper."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1994, Chris Sherman, review of Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions, p. 330; February 1, 1995, Hazel Rochman, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 1003; October 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Big and Little, p. 358; December 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 633; August, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 201; April 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest, p. 1405; May 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Slap, Squeak, and Scatter: How Animals Communicate, p. 1754; December 15, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Animals in Flight, p. 735; December 15, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, p. 759; January 1, 2003, review of Life on Earth, p. 797; February 15, 2003, Tim Arnold, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This? p. 1068.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1995, Heather McCammonel-Watts, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 348; December, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 131; June, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, "Rising Star."

Horn Book, July-August, 1995, Ellen Fader, review of Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, p. 477; November, 1995, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Looking Down, p. 734; March, 1999, Lilly Robinson, review of The Top of the World, p. 244; January, 2000, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award acceptance speech, p. 51; September-October, 2002, Danielle J. Ford, review of Life on Earth, p. 595; May-June, 2004, Lauren E. Raece, review of Actual Size, p. 345.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1997, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 1458; July 15, 1998, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 1036; October 15, 2001, review of Animals in Flight, p. 1485; October 1, 2002, review of Life on Earth, p. 1471; January 15, 2003, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 142; July 1, 2003, review of One Nighttime Sea: An Ocean Counting Rhyme, p. 913.

New York Times Book Review, November 12, 1995, Patricia McCormick, review of Looking Down, p. 32; October 17, 1999, Christopher S. Wren, review of The Top of the World, p. 31; March 9, 2003, Christine Hepperman, "Evolution for Beginners," p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, November 10, 1997, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 73; May 10, 1999, review of The Top of the World, p. 68; November 11, 2002, review of Life on Earth, p. 63.

School Library Journal, September, 1994, Sandra Welzenbach, review of Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie, p. 208; September, 1995, John Peters, review of Looking Down, p. 179; October, 1996, Caroline Ward, review of Big and Little, p. 99; November, 1997, Sally Bates Goodroe, review of What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?, p. 109; August, 1998, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 151; May, 2001, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Slap, Squeak, and Scatter, p. 143; November, 2001, Ellen Heath, review of Animals in Flight, p. 146; December, 2002, Patricia Manning, review of Life on Earth, p. 124; March, 2003, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 220; January, 2004, Joy Fleischhacker, review of Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, p. 78; April, 2004, review of What Do You Do with a Tail like This?, p. 20.

Teaching Children Mathematics, April, 1997, Eunice Hendrix-Martin, "Students Use Their Bodies to Measure Animals," p. 426.

ONLINE

Children's Literature Web site, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (September 3, 2004), interview with Jenkins.

Houghton Mifflin Web site, http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (September 3, 2004).*

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