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Potter, Giselle

Potter, Giselle

Personal

Daughter of puppeteers; married; husband's name Kier (a furniture maker); children: Pia, Isabel. Education: Studied at Rhode Island School of Design.

Addresses

Home and office—Kingston, NY.

Career

Illustrator for books and magazines, including New Yorker, New York Times, and Land of Nod catalogue; author. Exhibitions: Works included in exhibitions at Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles, CA, and New York, NY; and at Storyopolis, Los Angeles.

Awards, Honors

Notable Book citation, American Library Association, for Mr. Semolina-Semolinus and Gabriella's Song.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Lucy's Eyes and Margaret's Dragon: The Lives of the Virgin Saints, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

The Year I Didn't Go to School, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.

Chloe's Birthday … and Me, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

ILLUSTRATOR

Candace Fleming, Gabriella's Song, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1997.

Anthony L. Manna, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1997.

Candace Fleming, When Agnes Caws, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.

Cari Best, Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, DK Publishers (New York, NY), 1999.

Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, The Big Box, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1999.

Pat McKissack, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

Mary Pope Osborne, Kate and the Beanstalk, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

Cari Best, Shrinking Violet, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2001.

Barbara M. Joosse, Ghost Wings, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

Amy MacDonald, Quentin Fenton Herter Three, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.

Mary Pope Osborne, The Brave Little Seamstress, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.

Cari Best, When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.

Ursula Hegi, Trudi and Pia, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.

Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, Sleeping Bobby, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2005.

Ranjit Bolt, The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine, Barefoot Books (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Roni Schotter, The Boy Who Loved Words, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2006.

Ralph Covert, Sawdust and Spangles: The Amazing Life of W.C. Coup, Abrams (New York, NY), 2007.

Alan Madison, The Littlest Grape Stomper, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2007.

Eugene Field, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod: A Dutch Lullaby, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2008.

Emily Jenkins, Sugar Would Not Eat It, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2009.

Sidelights

Enjoying an unconventional childhood, Giselle Potter has followed her creative muse as an adult author and illustrator of children's books. As the daughter of parents who supported themselves as traveling puppeteers, Potter spent a great deal of time on the road as a child, helping to entertain audiences and amusing herself by drawing and keeping a journal. From grandparents who were painters she received encouragement when she spent long hours doing her own art. "I drew a lot as a kid because that is what everyone around me did," Potter recalled on the Random House Web site. In keeping with her experiences, her quirky pictures often grace stories about unusual, adventurous, and family-oriented heroines.

Augmented by a study of traditional Balinese miniature paintings in Indonesia, Potter received her formal training at the Rhode Island School of Design. She spent her last year of college studying in Rome, painting images of the saints, and this experience led to the publication of her first self-illustrated work, Lucy's Eyes and Margaret's Dragon: The Lives of the Virgin Saints. As a fledgling professional, she landed work with the New Yorker and New York Times, and from there moved into children's books.

As an illustrator, Potter is perhaps best known for her collaborations with writer Cari Best on the "Catherine the Great" books: Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! and When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight! These titles look back lovingly at Best's Russian grandmother who lived in New York City. In her Booklist review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, Shelle Rosenfeld commended Potter's "festive, whimsical artwork," writing that it is "filled with rich detail and diverse, expressive characters."

Potter has also teamed with Mary Pope Osborne on two somewhat fractured fairy tales: Kate and the Beanstalk and The Brave Little Seamstress. These humorous stories offer a feminist spin on standard folk tales, giving the hero's role to plucky heroines who use their wits to save the day. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote of Kate and the Beanstalk that "here's much to enjoy in this spunky picture book, which puts a fresh face on an old favorite." In Booklist, Julie Cummins noted that Potter's mixed-media illustrations "affix just the right amount of sauciness to the cheeky heroine."

Osborne and Potter were joined by Osborne's husband, Will Osborne, for another fairy tale with a twist: Sleep-

ing Bobby. Like "Sleeping Beauty," poor Prince Bob is cursed when only twelve of the kingdom's thirteen wise women are invited to the party celebrating his birth. Although his parents ban spindles and spinning wheels, Prince Bob's sense of adventure makes the curse appealing; when his enchantment takes effect, only a princess with a spirit of adventure to match Bob's own can make her way through the brambles that surround the royal castle. "Potter's mixed-media paintings suggest destined romance and humble magic between the well-matched couple," noted a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Considering the illustrations to be a high point of the book, a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "Potter continues the style set by the two earlier books—flat gouache-and-watercolor artwork in earth tones." In Horn Book Robin Smith wrote that the artist's "wide-sweeping illustrations perfectly complement the droll retelling," and in Booklist Gillian Engberg felt that "Potter's richly costumed, expressive characters amplify both the humor and sense of magic."

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Potter has worked on several other picture book stories in the style of folk tales. For Roni Schotter's The Boy Who Loved Words, she "joins in the fun by sprinkling her stylized earth-tone watercolors with collaged words in various fonts," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. According to a critic for Kirkus Reviews, "Schotter's words are enlivened by Potter's distinctively naive figures," and in School Library Journal Joy Fleishhacker wrote that the illustrator's "folk-art paintings echo the story's whimsy and set the action in an idyllic-looking, early-20th-century past."

The tale of misfit Sixto Poblano, who becomes a hero, is the center of Alan Madison's unique story The Littlest Grape Stomper. Here Potter's "drily funny paintings emit a folklorish, Old World quality," according to a contributor to Publishers Weekly. Martha Simpson, writing for School Library Journal, commented that "the stylized pencil, ink, gouache, gesso, and watercolor artwork is vintage Potter in all its quirky glory." Her illustrations have also accompanied Ralph Covert's Sawdust and Spangles: The Amazing Life of W.C. Coup, a biography of the circus man, and a collection of fables, The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine.

When she was seven years old, Potter took a year off from school to travel with her parents and baby sister to Italy, where they toured from town to town, performing puppet shows and living out of steamer trunks and a carnival truck. Potter kept a journal that included not only her observations of the country and its customs, but also her sketches of the people and places she visited along the way. The Year I Didn't Go to School uses a first-person narrative and mixed-media illustrations to recall that somewhat-less-than-idyllic year in Italy, with actual snippets from Potter's journals appearing in the endpapers. In School Library Journal, Wendy Lukehart called the book "a madcap journey from a gifted storyteller," and a Publishers Weekly critic felt that the "captivating account makes the exotic setting come alive." Carol Doup Muller concluded in her review of The Year I Didn't Go to School for the New York Times Book Review that, "while Potter's text makes clear the emotional ambivalence inherent to awfully big adventures, her artwork tips the book's balance toward delight."

Potter continues to draw on her own life experiences for Chloe's Birthday … and Me, a sequel to The Year I Didn't Go to School. In a story of sibling rivalry, young Giselle wishes it were her birthday instead of that of little sister Chloe. Chloe is too young to appreciate the attention, and it is only after an almost-disastrous attempt to sabotage the younger girl's present that Giselle begins to feel guilty about her ungracious response. Repentant, the girl comes around to celebrating Chloe's birthday honestly, appreciating her little sister's special day. "Potter's tale will be much appreciated by readers of all ages who have suffered the pangs and pleasures of sibling relationships," predicted a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. Noting the Paris setting, Jane Barrer wrote in School Library Journal that the book's "illustrations bring the setting to life and provide glimpses of the local culture." A Publishers Weekly critic also complimented Potter's art for Chloe's Birthday … and Me, writing that her "moon-faced characters, with their sidelong glances and Mona Lisa grins, convey a subtle range of feelings." Noting that the book includes a free birthday card, Horn Book critic Christine M. Heppermann felt that "the real bonus is the sisterly affection that, in the end, seems just as genuine as—and stronger than—the rivalry."

Potter's autobiographical picture books were complimented by Barbara Auerbach as titles that could potentially encourage reluctant writers. Both Chloe's Birthday … and Me and The Year I Didn't Go to School "encourage kids to record their experiences in journals, and the addition of ticket stubs, postcards, sweet wrappers, etc., might make the prospect more appealing," the critic wrote in School Library Journal. On the BookPage Web site, Potter described the experience of using her own childhood journal as creative inspiration. "It's great to look at my childhood from this perspective," she said, "and it's so nice to work with material that I created myself way back when."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklinks, May, 2005, Tricia Volore, review of Kate and the Beanstalk, p. 35; July, 2005, Pat Scales, review of Shrinking Violet, p. 34; January, 2007, KaaVonia Hinton, review of The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, p. 60.

Booklist, September 15, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 258; April 1, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 1335; November 1, 2002, Karin Snelson, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 500; August, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, p. 1986; January 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 118; February 1, 2006, Michael Cart, review of The Boy Who Loved Words, p. 57.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 2004, Janice Del Negro, review of Chloe's Birthday … and Me, p. 479; February, 2006, Hope Morrison, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 280; May, 2007, Hope Morrison, review of The Littlest Grape Stomper, p. 376.

Horn Book, March, 1999, review of When Agnes Caws, p. 188; November, 1999, Margaret A. Bush, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 727; July-August, 2004, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Chloe's Birthday … and Me, p. 441; September-October, 2005, Robin Smith, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 566; January-February, 2007, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine, p. 77.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Chloe's Birthday … and Me, p. 497; September 15, 2005, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 1032; March 1, 2006, review of The Boy Who Loved Words, p. 238; January 15, 2007, review of The Littlest Grape Stomper, p. 77; August 1, 2007, review of Sawdust and Spangles: The Amazing Life of W.C. Coup.

New York Times Book Review, December 22, 2002, Carol Doup Muller, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, August 11, 1997, review of Gabriella's Song, p. 400; December 21, 1998, review of When Agnes Caws, p. 67; July 19, 1999, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 194; September 4, 2000, review of Kate and the Beanstalk, p. 106; April 2, 2001, review of Ghost Wings, p. 64; March 25, 2002, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 63; June 24, 2002, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 56; June 30, 2003, review of When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, p. 78; July 5, 2004, review of Chloe's Birthday … and Me, p. 54; September 12, 2005, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 67; February 20, 2006, review of The Boy Who Loved Words, p. 156; January 8, 2007, review of The Littlest Grape Stomper, p. 50.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Kate McClelland, review of Kate and the Beanstalk, p. 151; April, 2002, Susan Pine, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 118; July, 2004, Jane Barrer, review of Chloe's Birthday … and Me, p. 86; May, 2005, Jennifer Ralston, review of Shrinking Violet, p. 49; October, 2005, Susan Scheps, review of Sleeping Bobby, p. 144; April, 2006, Joy Fleishhacker, review of The Boy Who Loved Words, p. 117; December, 2006, Margaret Bush, review of The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine, p. 120; April, 2007, Martha Simpson, review of The Littlest Grape Stomper, p. 112.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 26, 2006, Mary Harris Russell, review of The Boy Who Loved Words, p. 7.

ONLINE

BookPage Web site,http://www.bookpage.com/ (February 8, 2008), Heidi Henneman, "Skipping Class with Giselle Potter."

Giselle Potter Home Page,http://www.gisellepotter.com (February 8, 2008).

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (February 8, 2008), "Giselle Potter."

Simon & Schuster Web site,http://www.simonsays.com/ (February 8, 2008), "Giselle Potter."

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"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/potter-giselle-0

"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/potter-giselle-0

Potter, Giselle

POTTER, Giselle

Personal

Daughter of puppeteers. Education: Studied at Rhode Island School of Design.

Addresses

Home High Falls, NY. Agent c/o Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 597 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10017.

Career

Illustrator for books and magazines, including New Yorker, New York Times, and Land of Nod catalogue; author.

Awards, Honors

Notable book citations, American Library Association, for Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale and Gabriella's Song.

Writings

(Self-illustrated) Lucy's Eyes and Margaret's Dragon: The Lives of the Virgin Saints, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

(Self-illustrated) The Year I Didn't Go to School, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Chloe's Birthday and Me, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

illustrator

Candace Fleming, Gabriella's Song, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1997.

Anthony L. Manna, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1997.

Candace Fleming, When Agnes Caws, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.

Cari Best, Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, DK Publishers (New York, NY), 1999.

Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, The Big Box, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1999.

Pat McKissack, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

Mary Pope Osborne, Kate and the Beanstalk, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.

Cari Best, Shrinking Violet, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2001.

Barbara M. Joosse, Ghost Wings, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

Amy MacDonald, Quentin Fenton Herter Three, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.

Mary Pope Osborne, The Brave Little Seamstress, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.

Cari Best, When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.

Ursula Hegi, Trudi & Pia, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.

Sidelights

Giselle Potter led an unconventional life as a young girl and has followed her muse as an adult author and illustrator of children's books. The daughter of parents who supported themselves as traveling puppeteers, she spent a great deal of time on the road as a child, helping to entertain audiences and amusing herself by drawing and keeping a journal. From grandparents who were painters she inherited talent and received encouragement when she spent long hours doing her own art. Today Potter is a highly regarded illustrator whose quirky pictures often grace stories about unusual, adventurous, and family-oriented heroines.

Potter took her formal training at the Rhode Island School of Design, augmenting her work there with independent studies in Italy and Indonesia. As a fledgling professional she landed work with the New Yorker and New York Times, and from there moved into children's books. As an illustrator she is perhaps best known for her collaborations with Cari Best on several "Catherine the Great" books, including Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! and When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight! These titles look back lovingly at author Best's Russian grandmother who lived in New York City. In her Booklist review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, Shelle Rosenfeld commended Potter's "festive, whimsical artwork" that is "filled with rich detail and diverse, expressive characters."

Potter has also teamed with Mary Pope Osborne on two somewhat fractured fairy tales, Kate and the Beanstalk and The Brave Little Seamstress. These humorous stories offer a feminist spin on two standard folktales, giving the hero's role to plucky heroines who use their wits to save the day. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote of Kate and the Beanstalk: "There's much to enjoy in this spunky picture book, which puts a fresh face on an old favorite." In Booklist, Julie Cummins noted that Potter's mixed media illustrations "affix just the right amount of sauciness to the cheeky heroine."

Rare indeed is the child who doesn't dream of taking a year off school to travel to an exotic land for strange adventures. Potter actually lived out this dream when she was seven years old. That year, she journeyed with her parents and baby sister to Italy, where they ventured from town to town, performing puppet shows and living out of steamer trunks and a carnival truck. Even though she was very young at the time, Potter kept a journal that included not only her observations of the strange country and its customs, but also her sketches of people and places she visited along the way. The Year I Didn't Go to School uses first person narrative and mixed media illustrations to recall that somewhat less-than-idyllic year in Italy, with actual snippets from Potter's journals appearing in the endpapers. In School Library Journal, Wendy Lukehart called the book "a madcap journey from a gifted storyteller," and a Publishers Weekly critic felt that the "captivating account makes the exotic setting come alive." Carol Doup Muller concluded in the New York Times Book Review: "While Potter's text makes clear the emotional ambivalence inherent to awfully big adventures, her artwork tips the book's balance toward delight."

Potter told Bookpage's Heidi Henneman that she drew inspiration for The Year I Didn't Go to School from her journal that somehow survived all those years. "It's great to look at my childhood from this perspective," she said, "and it's so nice to work with material that I created myself way back when."

Biographical and Critical Sources

periodicals

Booklist, September 15, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 258; April 1, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 1335; November 1, 2002, Karin Snelson, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 500; August, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, p. 1986.

Horn Book, March, 1999, review of When Agnes Caws, p. 188; November, 1999, Margaret A. Bush, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 727.

New York Times Book Review, December 22, 2002, Carol Doup Muller, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, August 11, 1997, review of Gabriella's Song, p. 400; December 21, 1998, review of When Agnes Caws, p. 67; July 19, 1999, review of Three Cheers for Catherine the Great!, p. 194; September 4, 2000, review of Kate and the Beanstalk, p. 106; April 2, 2001, review of Ghost Wings, p. 64; March 25, 2002, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 63; June 24, 2002, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 56; June 30, 2003, review of When Catherine the Great and I Were Eight!, p. 78.

School Library Journal, October, 2000, Kate McClelland, review of Kate and the Beanstalk, p. 151; April, 2002, Susan Pine, review of The Brave Little Seamstress, p. 118; November, 2002, Wendy Lukeheart, review of The Year I Didn't Go to School, p. 147.

online

BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/0209bp/giselle_potter.html/ (December 23, 2003), Heidi Henneman, "Skipping Class with Giselle Potter."*

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/potter-giselle

"Potter, Giselle." Something About the Author. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/potter-giselle