Himmelman, John C(arl) 1959-

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HIMMELMAN, John C(arl) 1959-

PERSONAL: Born October 3, 1959, in Kittery, ME; son of John A. (a manager on the New York Stock Exchange) and Pauline (a receptionist; maiden name, Nault) Himmelman; married Elizabeth Shanahan (an art teacher), September 6, 1982; children: Jeffrey Carl, Elizabeth Ann. Education: School of Visual Arts, B.F. A., 1981. Politics: Independent. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Nature photography, backpacking, travel.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—67 Schnoor Road, Killingworth, CT 06419. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Writer and illustrator, 1981—. Teacher of children's book writing and illustration, lecturer on nature topics. Worked variously as a cook and carpenter.

MEMBER: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Lepidopterists Society, Connecticut Butterfly Association (co-founder and director), Connecticut Botanical Society, Connecticut Entomological Society, Connecticut Ornithological Society, New Haven Bird Club (director and past president), Killingworth Land Trust (director), Killingworth Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, Killingworth Lion's Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: A Book Can Develop Empathy Award, New York State Humane Association, 1991, for Ibis, a True Whale Story; Outstanding Children's Science Tradebook of the Year, National Science Teachers Association, for A Pill Bug's Life.



Talester the Lizard, Dial (New York, NY), 1982.

Amanda and the Witch Switch, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

Amanda and the Magic Garden, Viking (New York, NY), 1986.

The Talking Tree; or, Don't Believe Everything You Hear, Viking (New York, NY), 1986.

Montigue on the High Seas, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.

The Ups and Downs of Simpson Snail, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.

The Day-off Machine, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1990.

Ellen and the Goldfish, Harper (New York, NY), 1990.

The Great Leaf Blast-Off, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1990.

Ibis, a True Whale Story, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

The Clover County Carrot Contest, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1991.

A Guest Is a Guest, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.

The Super Camper Caper, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1991.

Simpson Snail Sings, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.

Wanted: Perfect Parents, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1993.

I'm Not Scared! A Book of Scary Poems, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

Lights Out!, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1995.

J. J. versus the Babysitter, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1996.

Honest Tulio, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.

The Animal Rescue Club, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

A Salamander's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A Ladybug's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A Luna Moth's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A Slug's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A Dandelion's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A Wood Frog's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

A House Spider's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

A Pill Bug's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

A Monarch Butterfly's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

An Earthworm's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

A Hummingbird's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

A Mouses's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

A Mealworm's Life, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Pipaluk and the Whales, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.

Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard, Down East Books (Camden, ME), 2002.

Frog in a Bog, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2004.

Also author of Ben's Birthday Wish and Sarah and the Terns, published by Harcourt; Contributor of articles to Birdwatcher's Digest.

illustrator; for young people

Barbara Ware Holmes, Charlotte Cheetham, Master of Disaster, Harper (New York, NY), 1985.

Marjorie Sharmat, Go to Sleep, Nicholas Joe, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Michele Stepto, Snuggle Piggy and the Magic Blanket, Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.

Barbara Ware Holmes, Charlotte the Starlet, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1988.

Barbara Ware Holmes, Charlotte Shakespeare and Annie the Great, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1989.

Marcia Leonard, Rainboots for Breakfast, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1989.

Marcia Leonard, Shopping for Snowflakes, Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1989.

Julia Hoban, Buzby, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990.

Marcia Leonard, What Next? Silver Burdett (Morristown, NJ), 1990.

Eric Carpenter, Young Christopher Columbus: Discoverer of New Worlds, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Andrew Woods, Young George Washington: America's First President, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1992.

Leslie Kimmelman, Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Julia Hoban, Buzby to the Rescue, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Wendy Lewison, Let's Count, Joshua Morris, 1995.

Carolyn Graham, The Story of Myrtle Marie, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1995.

Carolyn Graham, The Story of the Fisherman and the Turtle Princess, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1995.

Claire Nemes, Young Thomas Edison: Great Inventor, Troll (Mahwah, NJ), 1995.

Leslie Kimmelman, Hooray, It's Passover!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Leslie Kimmelman, Sound the Shofar!: A Story for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Robert Kraus, Mort the Sport, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Melissa Stewart, A Daddy Longleg Is Not a Spider, Millbrook, 2004.

Also illustrator of Animal Countdown and The Christmas Star, published by Joshua Morris, and The Myrtle Marie Chant Book, published by Harcourt; illustrator of Ugrashimataro (a children's animated video), ALC Press. Contributor of illustrations to Wildlife Conservation Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS: John C. Himmelman has written or illustrated more than sixty books for young people. After considering a career as an artist or veterinarian, Himmelman choose art and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in 1977. He took courses in cartooning, advertising, and creative writing, but found that "the prospect of making a living in these fields was frightening!" as he once recalled to CA. "By the last half of my fourth and last year of college, I still had no idea of how I was going to make a living as an artist. Then, for the fun of it, I took a course in writing and illustrating children's books. It was taught by Dale Payson. One of the assignments was to write and illustrate your own book. (This was close to the end of the course.) I did a story about a lizard named Talester. My teacher liked it and showed it to her editor at Dial Publishers, and Talester the Lizard became my first published book! I now knew what I wanted to do."

A reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that Himmelman's first self-illustrated work, Talester the Lizard, is "sure to please tots and beginning readers." Talester tells the story of a pop-eyed green lizard who lives inside a curled-up leaf that hangs over a pond. Every day he peeks out of his house to see his reflection in the water below, which he thinks is another lizard. One day the pond dries up and his "friend" disappears. Talester then sets out on a comic adventure in search of his missing friend, but is unable to find him. He returns home in a rainstorm and is amazed to find that his friend has reappeared. "Pastel pictures, spare in composition, make it clear that Talester sees his reflection," stated Zena Sutherland of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, "and children can enjoy the superiority of knowing that."

Another of Himmelman's early successes came with his "Amanda" books, Amanda and the Witch Switch and Amanda and the Magic Garden. Both stories center around a well-meaning witch who encounters trouble despite her best efforts. In the first book, Amanda walks through the woods using her magic for good things. She meets a toad and grants his wish to become a witch. The toad, however, uses his powers badly, turning Amanda into a toad, and making a bee become the size of a bear. After the bee attacks him, the toad asks Amanda to restore him to his old self. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the story "entrancing, graced by witty, almost speaking pictures in brilliant hues." In the second book, Amanda plants magic seeds that grow giant vegetables, only to find that any animals eating the vegetables become huge as well. She finally finds another spell that undoes the damage: she grows tiny vegetables that restore the animals to their original size. Although Barbara Peklo of School Library Journal found the story "strained," Denise M. Wilms in Booklist commented that "the changing proportions add a comical element that will appeal to children."

Himmelman's self-illustrated book Wanted: Perfect Parents tells the story of a young boy named Gregory who posts a "help wanted" sign on his bedroom door. When his parents ask him about it, he provides them with a detailed description of the qualities that he felt would make up ideal parents. Perfect parents would never make their children clean their rooms, for example, but would allow them to purchase 117 pets. Gregory's descriptions become more and more outrageous until finally he comes up with the most important requirement: perfect parents would tuck their children into bed, wish them sweet dreams, and check under the bed for monsters. Writing in Booklist, Deborah Abbott stated that "the read-aloud crowd will love the fantasies of this 'perfect' world, made thoroughly enticing by Himmelman's whimsical color drawings."

Himmelman has also teamed with author Leslie Kimmelman to create several books about the Judaic religious tradition, including Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights, Hooray, It's Passover!, and Sound the Shofar!: A Story for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In Hooray, It's Passover! a young child encounters the history and meaning of the holiday while surrounded by celebrating relatives. According to a critic for Publishers Weekly, the book's "engaging text is rendered visually with a straightforward appeal by illustrator Himmelman." In Sound the Shofar! a family gathers to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This year, Uncle Jake has been chosen to blow the shofar, a ram's horn, at the synagogue service. This special honor makes the holidays extra festive. "Himmelman's cozy, lighthearted paintings," wrote a critic for Publishers Weekly, "feature an extended family—including a spunky litter of orange tabby cats—enjoying themselves and reaffirming their Jewish faith."

In addition to writing and illustrating his own books, Himmelman has helped other people to become published authors. Along with an author-illustrator friend Kay Kudlinski, he established a traveling school known as Storycraft Studios for this purpose. "Over the years, several of our students have gotten published, which is as exciting to me as getting one of my own books published," he once related to CA. Himmelman also visits schools and libraries to teach children the basics of creating stories and to present slide shows about birds, butterflies, moths, and amphibians. He also enjoys watching and photographing animals, particularly the annual migration of birds along the coast of Connecticut, where he makes his home. "So many natural events," Himmelman concluded, "so many stories to be inspired by them."



Booklist, March 1, 1987, p. 1013; March 15, 1988, p. 1258; December 1, 1989, p. 751; June 1, 1991, p. 1883; October 15, 1993.

Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY), March 24, 2002, Jean Westmoore, review of Pipaluk and the Whales, p. F7.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1982, p. 188; January, 1986, p. 87; February, 1988, p. 118.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1988, p. 54; August 1, 1989, p. 1158; November 1, 1989, p. 1602; August 15, 1990, p. 1176; June 1, 1991, p. 736; January 1, 1997, p. 59.

Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2001, review of Ibis, a True Whale Story, p. E6.

Publishers Weekly, February 5, 1982, p. 387; June 28, 1985, p. 75; December 11, 1987, p. 64; January 15, 1988, p. 97; June 29, 1990, p. 101; March 8, 1991, p. 74; September 7, 1992, p. 62; October 4, 1993, review of Wanted: Perfect Parents, p. 80; May 1, 1995, review of Lights Out!, p. 58; February 12, 1996, review of Hooray! It's Passover, p. 72; January 13, 1997, review of Honest Tulio, p. 74; July 27, 1998, review of Sound the Shofar!, p. 70.

School Library Journal, October, 1985, p. 155; August, 1987, p. 69; December, 1988, p. 87; January, 1991, p. 86; March, 1991, p. 173; October, 1992, p. 42; May, 1996, p. 92.


John Himmelman Web site, http://johnhimmelman.com (May 22, 2003).