Ewart, Claire 1958-

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EWART, Claire 1958-

PERSONAL: Born June 15, 1958, in Holland, MI; daughter of John A. Ewart (a business owner) and Caryl Jane Van Houten (a homemaker; maiden name, Curtis); married Thomas A. Herr (a trial attorney), August 31, 1985; children: Celeste Juliana. Ethnicity: "Dutch, Scots-Irish." Education: Attended Oberlin College, 1976-77; Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A., 1980. Hobbies and other interests: Travel and travel writing, swimming, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, gardening.

ADDRESSES: Home—5236 Arrowhead Pass, Fort Wayne, IN 46804. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Walker Publishing Co., 435 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Author and illustrator. Animator and acting art director for television stations in South Bend, IN, area; Computer Creations Inc., South Bend, art director, 1981-85; freelance courtroom illustrator for WSJV-TV, South Bend, 1981-85, and for WKJG-TV and the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN, 1985—; freelance author and illustrator of children's books, 1989—. Member of Artists Panel, Artlink Gallery, 1986—. Volunteer for environmental groups. Has shown works in museums and galleries.

MEMBER: Designer/Craftsmen Guild (vice president, 1990-91), Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy.

AWARDS, HONORS: Women of Achievement in Advertising award, 1985; ADDY citation of excellence, 1989; Time Train was named one of the best books of 1991 by School Library Journal and Parents (magazine), named one of the best books of the season by the Chicago Tribune and New Yorker, was featured on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television programs Story Time and Reading Rainbow, and was selected for the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators, 1991; International Reading Association Celebrate Literacy Award, 1992; Best Children's Science Fiction Picture Book Award, DucKon, 1992, for Time Train; Time Train was selected to the Indiana State Read Aloud list, 1993-94; Woman of Achievement award, YWCA (Fort Wayne, IN), 1996; Book-sense 76 selection, 2003, for The Giant; Booklinks Great Nonfiction Read Aloud List selection, 2004, for Fossil.



One Cold Night, Putnam (New York, NY), 1992.

The Giant, Walker (New York, NY), 2003.

Fossil, Walker (New York, NY), 2004.


Paul Fleischman, Time Train, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Karen Greenfield, Sister Yessa's Story, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Tomie dePaola, The Legend of the Persian Carpet, Whitebird Books, 1993.

James Cross Giblin, The Dwarf, the Giant, and the Unicorn: A Tale of King Arthur, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Susan Arkin Couture, The Biggest Horse I Ever Did See, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Alan K. Garinger, Torch in the Darkness, Guild Press of Indiana (Zionsville, IN), 2000.

Valiska Gregory, The Mystery of the Grindle Cat, Emmis Publishing (Indianapolis, IN), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: When Claire Ewart was a child, her family moved several times, but her parents always made sure that they lived on a lake. They traveled cross-country, studied the art and customs of different cultures, visited national parks, rode horses, and hiked in remote areas. "My parents not only exposed us to everything they could," Ewart once commented, "but they encouraged us in our interests. By example they taught us about ingenuity and self-reliance. They taught us to persevere, and to believe that we could do what we set out to do."

Ewart's self-illustrated book One Cold Night came about as a result of paintings she saw on a trip she made to New Mexico as an adult with her husband. Months later, she woke up on a cold October morning with the first sentence of the story in her head: "One cold night the cloud coyotes howled in the moonlight, and Snow Woman came to tuck us in."

"In illustrating Sister Yessa's Story, written by Karen Greenfield, I purposely included many endangered animals, as well as animals that might not be familiar to children," Ewart once commented. "Paul Fleischman's Time Train gave me the opportunity to learn more about dinosaurs and trains and to create a mood befitting this story of time travel." For the manuscript of The Legend of the Persian Carpet, the retelling of a Persian folktale by Tomie dePaola, Ewart traveled to regions where carpets are made, visited palaces and even a camel fair, and translated that imagery into the illustrations.

Ewart feels that with encouragement and hard work, she has been able to make her dreams come true. "When I travel to a destination on the other side of the world . . . I feel a responsibility to share some of that experience with children upon returning. I hope that by widening my world, I am also expanding the parameters of theirs."

Ewart illustrated James Cross Giblin's The Dwarf, the Giant, and the Unicorn: A Tale of King Arthur, a story in which King Arthur's vessel runs aground on an island. Booklist's Carolyn Phelan felt that Ewart's artwork "sensitively expresses the characters' emotions and creates richly colored and convincing settings." For Susan Arkin Couture's The Biggest Horse I Ever Did See Ewart created watercolor fields and the powerful horses that run free across them. She also illustrated Alan K. Garinger's Torch in the Darkness, a story based upon a German legend that tells of a peasant boy who becomes an artist.

After illustrating these books for other authors, Ewart wrote and illustrated The Giant and Fossil. The first is the touching story of a farm girl whose mother has died. Before she did, however, she told the girl that a giant was looking out for her. Not until the fall harvest is in does the young narrator realize the giant is her own strong and hardworking father. Booklist reviewer Kay Weisman felt that Ewart's watercolor illustrations "suggest a timeless bygone era when life was a matter of surviving the elements and support came from family."

In Fossil, a girl finds a fossil, "a stone that once was bone," then readers are transported back in time to see the female pterosaur to whom the bone belonged, soaring over the sea into which she later sinks when she dies. Next, Ewart pictures the changing earth's surface and how the pterosaur's bones become fossils. School Library Journal's Steven Engelfried wrote that "Ewart's inviting text and dramatic artwork work nicely together to describe the fossilization process in an engrossing way." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "beautifully illustrated science with a philosophical flavor."



Booklist, December 1, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Dwarf, the Giant, and the Unicorn: A Tale of King Arthur, p. 666; April 15, 2003, Kay Weisman, review of The Giant, p. 1477.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of The Giant, p. 466; March 15, 2004, review of Fossil, p. 268.

Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of The Giant, p. 66.

School Library Journal, May, 2003, Beth Tegart, review of The Giant, p. 113; April, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Fossil, p. 109.