Micucci, Charles (Patrick, Jr.) 1959-
MICUCCI, Charles (Patrick, Jr.) 1959-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "Mee-koo-chee"; born October 25, 1959, in Camp Lejeune, NC; son of Charles P. (in U.S. Marine Corps) and Jeanne (a secretary; maiden name, Findley) Micucci. Education: Attended Northern Illinois University, New York University, and School for the Visual Arts.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin, 222 Berkeley, Boston, MA 02116-3764.
CAREER: Writer and illustrator.
A Little Night Music, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.
The Life and Times of the Apple, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1992.
The Cabbie Who Stole New York City, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.
The Life and Times of the Honeybee, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1995.
The Life and Times of the Peanut, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.
The Life and Times of the Ant, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Alfred Tennyson, The Brook, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Fred Arrig, The Baseball Star, Whistlestop (Mahwah, NJ), 1995.
Mary Packard, The Happy Trick-or-Treaters, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
Jon Chardiet, Parker Penguin, Big Brother Blues, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.
Bernice Chardiet, The Easter Ribbit, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.
Jon Chardiet, Parker Penguin and the Winter Games, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
Joyce Milton, Hieroglyphs, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2000.
The Life and Times of the Apple was also published in Scott Foresman Reading, Grade 2, Scott Foresman (Glenview, IL), 2000; The Easter Ribbit was also published in Hop to It! A Scholastic Easter Treasury, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Charles Micucci's first book for children, A Little Night Music, describes the adventures of a musical house cat whose nocturnal violin playing stirs several other animals—a trio of mice, a pair of cardinals, and the family dog—into a joyous frenzy of dancing. Patricia Pearl commented in School Library Journal, "The text is simple and poetic as it tells of paws tapping, singing, twirling, whisking, and prancing . . . with grace and energy." A Publishers Weekly reviewer described Micucci's watercolor illustrations as "warmly lyrical."
Micucci followed A Little Night Music with The Life and Times of the Apple, a picture book which examines the growth cycle, uses, varieties, and history of the popular fruit. As part of his research for the book, the author planted twenty-three apple seeds and kept them in his apartment; two were eventually transplanted successfully to New York City's Central Park. Critical response to The Life and Times of the Apple was positive. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked that "Micucci's lucid text flows logically from one topic to another," and in Horn Book, Carolyn K. Jenks asserted that the "watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are simple and clear, providing superb information."
After the success of The Life and Times of the Apple, Micucci created several other highly regarded nonfiction titles for children built on the same model, beginning with The Life and Times of the Honeybee. "This book reminds us that original artwork can be more precise and just as spectacular as photographs in children's nonfiction," remarked Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist. In order to clarify the complexity of bee behavior, Micucci manipulates perspective and scale in his watercolor illustrations of the bees' role in pollination, production of honey, division of labor, and reproduction, according to reviewers. Though the book is packed with information, the text is liberally and judiciously sprinkled with illustrations, and a friendly cartoon bee swoops through the pages as well, adding a lightly humorous touch. "Information about honeybees has never been more interesting," wrote Diane Nunn in School Library Journal.
Micucci then brought his winning style to another homely topic in The Life and Times of the Peanut. His text tells of the history, cultivation, and uses to which peanuts have been put by people all over the world, and his illustrations, offset by a dancing cartoon peanut, make the facts come alive, claimed reviewers. "What sets this book apart is Micucci's amusing and creative techniques for bringing statistics to life," asserted Susan Dove Lempke in Booklist, singling out the author's visual rendering of the fact that the annual production of peanuts worldwide averages out to nine pounds per person. A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews similarly praised Micucci's artful combination of text and illustration, "making this a captivating compendium, as wholesome and substantial as a peanut butter sandwich."
Micucci's next nonfiction title for children, The Life and Times of the Ant, has been equally well received, with Booklist's Kay Weisman remarking that the book "offers succinct text and an impressive amount of information presented in an attractive, picture-book format." Combining information on life cycle, behavior, varieties, and role in the ecosystem with illustrations that are alternately realistic and humorous, Micucci brings his characteristic style and approach to this perennially favorite topic in children's nonfiction. Here, a realistic rendering of worker ants, for example, is accompanied by a cartoon rendering of an ant in armor, in order to clarify the idea being presented. As with his earlier nonfiction titles on small, child-friendly topics, The Life and Times of the Ant was favorably compared to other works on this popular topic. The book "makes a readable, engaging alternative to the many photographic treatments of the subject," concluded a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.
Micucci once remarked, "Writing and illustrating children's books gives me an opportunity to communicate with the future of the world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Life and Times of the Honeybee, p. 1003; May 1, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Life and Times of the Peanut, p. 1496; April 15, 2003, Kay Weisman, review of The Life and Times of the Ant, p. 1473.
Horn Book, May-June, 1992, Carolyn K. Jenks, review of The Life and Times of the Apple, pp. 356-357; fall, 1997, Shela M. Geraty, review of The Life and Times of the Peanut, p. 361; May-June, 2003, Betty Carter, review of The Life and Times of the Ant, p. 370.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1992, review of The Life and Times of the Apple, p. 118; February 15, 1997, review of The Life and Times of the Peanut, p. 303; January 1, 2003, review of The Life and Times of the Ant, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, March 10, 1989, review of A Little Night Music, p. 88; January 13, 1992, p. 57.
School Library Journal, July, 1989, Patricia Pearl, review of A Little Night Music, p. 73; March, 1992, p. 232; April, 1995, Diane Nunn, review of The Life and Times of the Honeybee, p. 126; May, 1997, Blair Christolon, review of The Life and Times of the Peanut, p. 122; May, 2003, Margaret Bush, review of The Life and Times of the Ant, p. 140.*