Nilsen, Anna 1948–

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NILSEN, Anna 1948–

(Andrea Bassil)

PERSONAL:

Born September 16, 1948, in England. Ethnicity: "White Caucasian." Education: Attended Eastbourne School of Art, 1966-67; Edinburgh College of Art, diploma in art and design, 1972; Moray House College of Education, Scottish certificate of education, 1973. Hobbies and other interests: Photography, travel, gardening, walking.

ADDRESSES:

Office—16 Emery St., Cambridge CB1 2AX, England; fax: 01228-364266. E-mail[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Educator, author, and illustrator. Mussleburgh Grammar School, assistant teacher of art, 1973-74; St. Margaret's School, Newington, England, assistant teacher of art, 1974-85; Bournemouth & Poole College of Art and Design, Poole, England, course director in natural-history illustration, 1985-90; Anglia Ruskin, artist, writer, designer, and illustrator, 1995—. Lamp of Lothian Art Centre, evening class lecturer, 1973-74; Anglia Polytechnic University, visiting lecturer, 2002—. Pixel Magic, art director, screen designer, and games consultant, 1995-96; educational games consultant to Multimedia Corp. Has worked for LEGO, National Gallery London and Scotland, and Chicago Art Institute. Exhibitions: Artwork exhibited in solo shows and group shows in England and Scotland.

MEMBER:

Society of Authors, Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, Children's Book Circle, Cambridge Illustration Group.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Goldsmiths' Hall scholarship for Paris, France, 1981; award in activity-book category, Parents' Guide to Children's Media, and shortlist for BPF Book Design and Production Award, both 2001, ABC Children's Booksellers Choice Award, 2002, Department of the Ministry of Education in Mexico award, 2003, and Blue Peter Award shortlist, all for Art Fraud Detective; Sheffield Baby Book Award shortlist.

WRITINGS:

for children

Jungle, illustrated by Peter Joyce, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Farm, illustrated by Annie Axworthy, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Friends, illustrated by Sue Coney, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Wheels, illustrated by Joe Wright, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Dinosaurs, illustrated by Annie Axworthy, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Terrormazia: A Hole New Kind of Maze Game, illustrated by Dom Mansell, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Flying High, illustrated by Tony Wells, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Fairy Tales, illustrated by Sue Coney, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Under the Sea, illustrated by Tania Hurt-Newton, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Drive Your Car, illustrated by Tony Wells, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Drive Your Tractor, illustrated by Tony Wells, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Where Are Percy's Friends?, illustrated by Dom Mansell, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Where Is Percy's Dinner?, illustrated by Dom Mansell, Walker Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Percy the Park Keeper Activity Book, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Follow the Kite, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Let's Dig and Burrow, Zero to Ten, 1998.

Let's Hang and Dangle, Zero to Ten, 1998.

Let's Leap and Jump, Zero to Ten, 1998.

Let's Swim and Dive, Zero to Ten, 1998.

Spy Catcher ("LEGO Puzzle Book" series), DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

Treasure Smuggler ("LEGO Puzzle Book" series), DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

Gold Robber ("LEGO Puzzle Book" series), DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

I Can Spell—Words with Four Letters, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1998.

I Can Spell—Words with Three Letters, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1998.

Insectoids Invasion, illustrated by Philip Nicholson, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

Jewel Thief (a "LEGO Puzzle Book"), DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.

My Favorite Fairy Tales: A Sticker Book, illustrated by Sue Cony, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

I Can Count 1 to 10, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1999.

I Can Count 10 to 20, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 1999.

Mousemazia, illustrated by Dom Mansell, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

I Can Subtract, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2000.

I Can Add, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2000.

Art Fraud Detective, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2000.

I Can Multiply, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2001.

(Self-illustrated) Magnificent Mazes, Mathew Price, 2001.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Numbers, Miles Kelly, 2001.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Words, Miles Kelly, 2001.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Colours, Miles Kelly, 2001.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Shapes, Miles Kelly, 2001.

(Self-illustrated) The Great Race, Little Hare Books (Australia), 2002.

(Self-illustrated) The aMAZEing Journey of Marco Polo, Little Hare Books (Australia), 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Actions, Miles Kelly, 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Noises, Miles Kelly, 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Sizes, Miles Kelly, 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Let's Learn Opposites, Miles Kelly, 2002.

(Self-illustrated) Pirates, Little Hare Books (Australia), 2003.

Moo Cow Moo!, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley, Little Hare Books (Australia), 2003.

Swim Duck Swim!, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley, Little Hare Books (Australia), 2003.

(Self-illustrated) Magnificent Mazes: 20th Century, Mathew Price, 2003.

The Great Art Scandal: Solve the Crime, Save the Show!, illustrated by Mandy Stanley, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2003.

Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes! Save the Sale!, illustrated by Jason Ford, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2005.

Bella's Mid-Summer Secret, Chrysalis (London, England), 2005.

Peepers Jungle, Orchard (London, England), 2005.

Peepers People, Orchard (London, England), 2005.

Peepers Farm, Orchard (London, England), 2005.

Peepers Pet, Orchard (London, England), 2005.

Author of several other puzzle, jigsaw, and game books.

Author's works have been translated into French, Polish, Czech, Chinese, Icelandic, Belgian, Bulgarian, Danish, Swedish, Slovakian, Japanes, Taiwanese, Latvian, German, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, and Finnish.

"my best friends" series

My Best Friends, illustrated by Emma Dodd, Gingham Dog Press (New York, NY), 2003.

My Best Dad, illustrated by Emma Dodd, Zero to Ten (England), 2003.

My Best Mum, illustrated by Emma Dodd, Zero to Ten (England), 2003.

self-illustrated

The Great Race, Little Hare (Australia), 2002.

The aMAZEing Journey of Marco Polo, Little Hare (Australia), 2002.

The aMAZEing Journey of Charles Darwin, Little Hare (Australia), 2003.

Pirates, Little Hare (Australia), 2003.

AMAZEing Journeys, Little Hare (Australia), 2004.

Robotics Math Games and Puzzles, Little Hare (Australia), 2004.

Famous Journeys, Little Hare (Australia), 2005.

The aMAZEing Journey through Time, Little Hare (Australia), 2006.

ILLUSTRATOR:

My House, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2002.

Circus, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2002.

Games Consultant, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2003.

(And designer) 3-D Mathematical Maze Puzzle Cube, Zoo Book Cube (England), 2003.

(With others) Happy Friends, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2004.

other

(As Andrea Bassil) Design in Partnership, 1989.

(As Andrea Bassil) Jaguar Expedition to Belize, Royal Geographic Society (London, England), 1989.

(Illustrator, as Andrea Bassil) Helen Kinnier Wilson, Cambridge Reflections, Silent (Cambridge, England), 1992.

(As Andrea Bassil) Vincent van Gogh (juvenile nonfiction), Gareth Stevens Publishing (Milwaukee, WI), 2004.

Under name Andrea Bassil, author of Aqua Quest game book. Contributor to books, including (as Andrea Bassil) The Complete Guide to Illustration, Quarto, 1989; and Compendium of Puzzles and Brainteasers, Reader's Digest Books (Pleasantville, NY), 2000. Contributor of illustrations to National Association of Field Study Officers' Journal.

SIDELIGHTS:

Anna Nilsen, the pseudonym of Andrea Bassil, is the author and illustrator of over fifty books for young readers. Along with writing, she has worked to devise novelty items, puzzles and games, jigsaws, and educational CD-ROM programs. Most of her books are nonfiction or educational, and several teach about the art industry while also providing puzzles for young readers to solve. "Sometimes I simply devise the concept [for a book] but more often I write and illustrate. Sometimes when I'm busy other illustrators are employed," Nilsen explained of her work schedule on her home page.

Most of Nilsen's books are categorized as concept books. Let's Dig and Burrow and Let's Hang and Dangle encourage young readers to think about the ways various animals move. My Best Friends describes what having a best friend is like. Nilsen's most critically notable books, however, are her mystery-art books. The first, Art Fraud Detective, drew attention for its combination of visual mystery, comic-book format, and educational information about famous artists. The Great Art Scandal: Solve the Crime, Save the Show! continues the theme, presenting readers with a quest: they must identify fraudulent artwork to save an exhibition. Readers are given details about fraudulent artists, and must match which artist copied which great artist's painting. "For those who like to solve puzzles and who have a keen eye, this is a humdinger," wrote Carol Schene in School Library Journal.

In Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes! Save the Sale! readers must identify sixteen of thirty-four possible fakes at an art auction. "For art appreciators, a prize; for puzzle fans, a challenging set of interlocking clues," summed up a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Booklist contributor Francisca Goldsmith noted that "Nilsen combines art appreciation, decoding skills, computation, and a sense of adventure" in the book, while Linda M. Kenton wrote in School Library Journal that, "if your library has budding sleuths who are ready for a more complex challenge and who like art, this is the book for them."

Nilsen has also written the juvenile biography Vincent van Gogh, in which she traces the life and works of the famous artist, setting Van Gogh's troubled personal life within the context of the era in which he lived. Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg considered Vincent van Gogh characteristic of other titles in the "Lives of the Artists" series: "Solid, intriguing overviews of the artists, their work, and their legacies."

Nilsen once noted: "In 1990 Walker Books invited me to develop an 'original' concept for a puzzle book. This challenge was my first encounter with children's books, and it inspired me to produce Terrormazia: A Hole New Kind of Maze Game. I had submitted an illustrated children's box for a competition run by Jonathan Cape, and it was selected for their exhibition of best entries. This had impressed my editor at Walker Books. She identified my potential as a 'deviser' of children's books. For the next five years I worked exclusively for Walker Books. In 1995 I retired as the head of illustration at Anglia Polytechnic University to follow a full-time career in children's books. Since then I have had books contracted with a variety of publishers.

"Since I am a deviser of children's books, my ideas usually start with a visual idea that incorporates an activity (mental and/or physical) around which the narrative is then woven. In this sense I am not a traditional author; normally an author would start with a written script, which is then illustrated. I find that even when developing a narrative concept, I start by sketching a series of visual images. This is due to my art college training, which included a wide range of specialties and a strong emphasis on drawing. Many of my ideas contain an educational element, probably due to the number of years I spent in the academic world. Often my aim is to provide children with an entertaining learning platform. I am interested in combining information with a game, a puzzle, or other activity to encourage children to be inquisitive about the real world. The Aqua Quest book, an information maze game book, is a good example. In the book, the Aquazone kits have been set in different oceans around the world, which introduces children to real fish on their maze journey around the world."

As Nilsen more recently noted of her writing career: "I have started to write picture-book texts prompted by My Best Friends. I decided to explore emotional issues which are of personal importance to me and have found this new departure very rewarding. I hope these new books will also enrich the lives of their young readers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, June 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Vincent van Gogh, p. 1751; November 1, 2005, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes! Save the Sale!, p. 56.

Bookseller, May 12, 1995, p. 35; June 1, 2004.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005, review of Art Auction Mystery, p. 1985.

Nursery World, February 22, 1996, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, June 3, 1996, p. 85; November 21, 2005, "You Gotta Have Art," p. 50.

School Librarian, February, 1996, p. 21.

School Library Journal, March, 2002, Jody McCoy, review of Let's Dig and Burrow and Let's Hang and Dangle, p. 218; January, 2004, Shelley B. Sutherland, review of My Best Friends, p. 102; March, 2004, Carol Schene, review of The Great Art Scandal: Solve the Crime, Save the Show!, p. 240; January, 2006, Linda M. Kenton, review of Art Auction Mystery, p. 160.

Time out for Kids, March-April, 1995, p. 10.

online

Anna Nilsen Home Page,http://www.annanilsen.com (September 19, 2001).

Houghton Mifflin Web Site,http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (November 3, 2006), "Anna Nilsen."

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Nilsen, Anna 1948–

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