Riddell, Chris(topher Barry) 1962-
RIDDELL, Chris(topher Barry) 1962-
PERSONAL: Born April 13, 1962, in Capetown, South Africa; son of Morris Stroyan (an Anglican priest) and Pamela Aileen (Moyle) Riddell; married Joanna Kathleen Burroughes (an artist), November 7, 1987; children: William, Katy, Jack. Education: Attended Epsom School of Art & Design, 1980-81; Brighton Polytechnic, B.A. (first class; illustration), 1984.
ADDRESSES: Home—Brighton, England. Agent—c/o Andersen Press, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Rd., London SW1V 2SA, England.
CAREER: Freelance illustrator and writer. Also political cartoonist for London periodicals, including Economist, 1988-95, Independent, Independent on Sunday, Guardian, and Observer, 1995—. Produces covers for the Literary Review, 1997—. Has also produced covers for the New Statesman.
AWARDS, HONORS: Kate Greenaway Medal special commendation, 1995, and UNESCO Prize, 1997, both for Something Else; Ragazza Prize honorable mention, Bologna Book Fair, 1998, and Kurt Maschler Award shortlist, 1998, both for The Swan's Stories; Kate Greenaway Medal, 2002, for Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter.
AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR
Ben and the Bear, Walker (New York, NY), 1985.
Mr. Underbed, Holt (New York, NY), 1986.
Bird's New Shoes, Holt (New York, NY), 1987.
The Fibbs, Walker (New York, NY), 1988.
The Trouble with Elephants, Walker (New York, NY), 1988.
When the Walrus Comes, Walker (New York, NY), 1989.
The Bear Dance, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.
The Wish Factory, Walker (New York, NY), 1990.
The World of Zoom, Walker (New York, NY), 1993.
Platypus, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Platypus and the Lucky Day, edited by Karrie A. Oswald, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Platypus and the Birthday Party, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.
WITH PAUL STEWART; AND ILLUSTRATOR
Beyond the Deepwoods, Doubleday (London, England), 1998, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
A Little Bit of Winter, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.
Storm Chaser, Doubleday (London, England), 1999, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Birthday Presents, Andersen Press (London, England), 1999, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Rabbit's Wish, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
What Do You Remember?, Random House (London, England), 2003.
Free Lance and the Lake of Skulls, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Midnight over Sanctaphrax, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Muddle Earth, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.
The Curse of the Gloamglozer, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Last of the Sky Pirates, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Field of Blood, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.
Sarah Hayes, reteller, Gruesome Giants, Derrydale Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Mary Hoffman, Beware, Princess!, Heinemann (London, England), 1986.
Ted Hughes, Fangs the Vampire Bat and the Kiss ofTruth, Faber and Faber (Boston, MA), 1986.
Kate Andrew, Beyond the Rolling River, Collins (London, England), 1988.
J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan, Magnet, 1988.
Ted Hughes, Moon-Whales, revised edition, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1988.
Mary Hoffman, Dracula's Daughter, Heinemann (London, England), 1988, Barron's (New York, NY), 1989.
Robert McCrum, The Dream Boat Brontosaurus, Methuen (London, England), 1989.
Andrew Gibson, Ellis and the Hummick, Faber and Faber (Boston, MA), 1989.
Andrew Gibson, The Abradizil, Faber and Faber (Boston, MA), 1990.
Kate Andrew, The Prism Tree, Collins (London, England), 1990.
Kathryn Cave, Henry Hobbs, Alien, Viking (London, England) 1990.
Kathryn Cave, Jumble, Blackie (London, England), 1991.
Helen Cresswell, Lizzie Dripping and the Witch, BBC Books (London, England), 1991.
Andrew Gibson, Jemima, Grandma, and the GreatLost Zone, Faber and Faber (Boston, MA), 1991.
Kathryn Cave, Out for the Count: A Counting Adventure, Barron's (Hauppauge, NY), 1991.
Freida Hughes, The Thing in the Sink, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.
Catherine Baker, editor, An Armful of Bears (poetry), Methuen (London, England), 1993.
Andrew Gibson, The Amazing Witherspoon's AmazingCircus Crew, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1993.
Kathryn Cave, Something Else, Viking (London, England), 1994, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 1998.
Freida Hughes, Rent-a-Friend, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
Miles Gibson, Say Hello to the Buffalo, Heinemann (London, England), 1994.
Andrew Gibson, Chegwith Skillett Escapes, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1995.
Ted Hughes, Collected Animal Poems, Volume 1: TheIron Wolf, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1995.
Louise Howard, Buddhism for Sheep, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Kathryn Cave, The Emperor's Gruckle Hound, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1996.
Alan Durant, Angus Rides the Goods Train, Viking (London, England), 1996.
Hans Christian Andersen, The Swan's Stories, selected and translated by Brian Aldersen, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.
Roger McGough, Until I Met Dudley: How EverydayThings Really Work, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.
Philip Ridley, Kasper in the Glitter, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Louise Howard, Feng Shui for Cats, Ebury Press (London, England), 1997.
Louise Howard, Feng Shui for Dogs, Ebury Press (London, England), 1997.
Freida Hughes, The Tall Story, Macdonald (London, England), 1997.
Kathryn Cave, Horatio Happened, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
Kathryn Cave, William and the Wolves, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Richard Platt, Castle Diary: The Journal of TobiasBurgess, Walker (New York, NY), 1999.
Claire Nielson, Buddhism for Bears, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Claire Nielson, The Tao For Babies, Seastone (Berkeley, CA), 2001.
Richard Platt, Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Martin Jenkins, abridger, Gulliver's Travels, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Chris Riddell is an author and illustrator who specializes in creating lively, color-filled books for young readers. Among Riddell's self-authored works are Ben and the Bear, The Wish Factory, and The Trouble with Elephants, while his illustration projects include bringing to life texts by authors such as Kathryn Cave, Andrew Gibson, and Paul Stewart. Of Riddell's work on The Swan's Stories, a collection of tales by Hans Christian Andersen, Horn Book contributor Ann A. Flowers noted, "The illustrations are superb, a cross between [Arthur] Rackham and Shepard with a touch of Carl Larsson. . . . This is a beautiful book." When not engaged in adding a dose of whimsy to books for children, Riddell casts a quizzical eye on the games of adult politicians, contributing wry political cartoons to such noted British publications as the New Statesman and the London Observer.
Riddell was born in 1962 in Capetown, South Africa, but moved to London as a child and attended British schools. He graduated from Brighton Polytechnic in 1984 with a degree in visual communications and first-class honors. His first published book, Ben and the Bear, appeared in 1985, the same year his illustrations began appearing in picture books by other authors.
The humorous Ben and the Bear was quickly followed by Mr. Underbed. Based on the classic childhood fear of nighttime creatures lurking under the bed, Mr. Underbed finds young Jim meeting a host of surprisingly congenial monsters that reside not only under his bed, but in other spots in his bedroom as well. In fact, Mr. Underbed and his monster friends are so much fun to be with that by story's end Jim has opted to sleep under the bed with his new friends. Books for Keeps reviewer Jill Bennett deemed this work "an attractive read alone" and a successful bedtime tale due to its simple text and appealing illustrations.
In 1987's Bird's New Shoes, Riddell pokes fun at the world of high fashion. Bird's latest fashion find, a pair of bright red shoes, causes Rat to covet a pair (or two) of his own. Of course, a new tie would look fabulous with the shoes, but when Rat parades around in his dashing new duds, Warthog simply must have not only the same shoes, but an equally snazzy tie as well. And so goes the one-upmanship in a book that a Publishers Weekly contributor called "a fun picture book with a simple story line." Particular praise was lavished on Riddell's vibrantly colored illustrations: a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed them "bright, busy, and cartoony," while in School Library Journal critic Lauralyn Persson added that "the animals are cleverly drawn, . . . [with] lots of innate comic personality."
In The Trouble with Elephants, a young girl's much-loved stuffed elephant causes her to imagine problems that living with real elephants might cause: pink rings in the bathtub, snoring at night, and terribly unfair games of see-saw and hide-and-go-seek. And never mind letting them ride on your bicycle, even once, or they'll squash it flat! Amid this litany of elephantine flaws scampers a herd of happy-go-lucky elephants, whose demeanor "are sure to elicit grins," according to School Library Journal contributor Lori A. Janick. Phillis Wilson also praised The Trouble with Elephants in a review for Booklist, commenting that Riddell's "use of exaggeration is a delightful addition to the gently engaging narrative."
The Wish Factory again delves into a child's imagination. Like Mr. Underbed, its subject is bedtime. Here, young Oliver is taken to a magical place in the clouds called the Wish Factory, where he is given a wish to be used the next time a bad dream threatens to disturb his sleep. Called "a beautifully illustrated . . . picture book in night-time colors" by School Librarian contributor Margaret Banerjee, The Wish Factory also received praise from critic Liz Waterland, who noted in her review for Books for Keeps that readers "will find [Riddell's] story straightforward and reassuring, especially if they're afraid of the dark."
In 1998 Riddell partnered with children's author Paul Stewart to produce a series of books. As reported by the Bookseller, Riddell and Stewart's children attend the same school, but Stewart revealed the origin of their professional partnership: "I was moaning about illustrators who don't read properly, and he was moaning about writers who won't let you fiddle with the text. So we decided to do something together." Stewart, who considers Riddell "without doubt the best illustrator working in England," also disclosed the inner workings of the alliance: "Chris and I live so close that I just go down to his house and we usually work in his studio"—a converted coach house at the bottom of his garden. "We sit in two chairs, sometimes have red wine, and just make each other laugh. Sometimes he'll draw a picture and it'll be fantastic, so I'll have to come up with that character in the book. . . . By the end it's gone through so many conversations, back and forth, that it's often impossible to remember who came up with an idea first."
Together, Riddell and Stewart wrote the first book of a series that would come to be known as "The Edge Chronicles": Beyond the Deepwoods. The book introduces a slightly older audience—ages nine to eleven—to the fantasy world of The Edge. Readers meet protagonist Twig, a woodtroll who is shunned because he is taller and lankier than the short, stout woodtrolls. Twig's mother decides that it is time to tell Twig that he is not really a woodtroll and sends him off to his cousin's house for safety, warning him not to stray from the path. The real adventure begins when Twig leaves the path and encounters all sorts of creatures, including Banderbears, Sky Pirates, and the infamous Gloamglozer. In a review of Beyond the Deepwoods for the Green Man Review Web site, Marian McHugh praised Riddell and Stewart for creating a story that allows readers to "make new friends as well as lose some that have become dear, but overall have a rollicking good time." McHugh also praised Riddell's "wonderful pen drawings" that "fully complement the story" and pointed out that "it is obvious . . . that both author and illustrator have worked closely together to produce this novel."
Riddell and Stewart have also joined forces in creating many books for younger readers. Rabbit and Hedgehog, the loveable duo who appeared in Riddell and Stewart's A Little Bit of Winter and The Birthday Presents, return in Rabbit's Wish. Rabbit wakes up and is excited to play with his best friend Hedgehog, but there is a problem: Hedgehog sleeps during the day and Rabbit sleeps at night. As Hedgehog goes to sleep, Rabbit wishes that he could play with his friend for a whole day. Then a heavy rain comes and floods both of their homes. The two animals play in the rain together until their homes dry out, and Rabbit decides that he will stay awake with Hedgehog one night for fun. In a review of Rabbit's Wish for Booklist, Helen Rosenberg wrote that "the soft, expressive watercolor illustrations are a good match for this story about friendship," which, Rosenberg pointed out, shares similarities with the "Frog and Toad" stories by children's author Arnold Lobel. In School Library Journal, Ann Cook also praised Riddell's artistry, commenting that his "gentle" illustrations "underscore the joy these creatures share and the anxiety they feel when each thinks the other is in danger."
Riddell introduced readers to a new character with his 2001 publication Platypus. Platypus loves to collect special things. His collection includes a marble, an acorn, and a sneaker, but Platypus feels it is not complete. When he waddles to the seaside in search of a special something to complete his prized collection, he discovers a beautiful, curly shell, which he promptly adds to his box and then takes a nap. When he wakes, the shell is gone! After a second shell disappears, Platypus realizes a hermit crab had been living in the first shell and has made the second shell his new home. Platypus apologizes to the crab and takes it back to the beach. From then on, whenever Platypus collects shells, he makes sure that no one is living inside before he claims it for his special collection. "Riddell conveys his message subtly and with good humor," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who also commented that "Riddell's crisp watercolor illustration, finely accented in blank ink, stands out against the stark white page." A Publishers Weekly reviewer pointed out that "Riddell's well-paced plotting makes the mystery and resolution equally enticing" for two to five year olds.
Platypus returns in Platypus and the Lucky Day. In this sequel, Platypus wakes up overjoyed, sure that today is his lucky day. He ventures outdoors to fly a kite, but it gets stuck in a tree. When he climbs the tree to retrieve his kite, a branch breaks and he crashes to the ground. He decides to paint a picture, but the wind snatches it, and then it begins to rain. On the way home, Platypus trips and falls. He is so upset that he crawls back into bed, where he finds a banana and his favorite stuffed animal, which he thought he had lost. He then decides to dig through his toys and finds his go-cart. Platypus braves the outside once again on his go-cart, and is upset when he crashes into a tree—until his kite falls into his lap! Platypus realizes that it is his lucky day after all, and Riddell teaches children an important lesson about looking at life from different angles. This "winsome character," as he is described by a Kirkus Reviews contributor, is featured in watercolor pictures surrounded by an expanse of white space, "creating focal points that carry the tale." The same reviewer also praised Riddell's plot for being "comical in its own low-key way" and mentioned that "what succeeds here is the note of cheery hope."
Riddell has illustrated children's books for Richard Platt. In Platt's story Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter, the year is 1716 and nine-year-old Jake leaves his home in North Carolina for a sailing adventure with his uncle Will, which turns out to be a different type of adventure than Jake anticipated. Jake learns that sea life is rough. Their food is infested with maggots, they suffer a fierce storm, crewmates die, and wicked Captain Nick flogs Uncle Will and casts him out to sea when Jake accidentally drops a bucket over the side of the ship. Then the ship is captured by pirates, and Captain Nick is left on a deserted island. Jake travels with the pirates, keeping track of their adventures "in an entertaining, historical-diary format," observed Booklist's Shelle Rosenfeld, who described Riddell's illustrations as "colorful" and "dynamic." The book is based on historical truths and is supplemented with endnotes, source notes, and a glossary, all of which further young readers' understanding of true historical background and events. Anne Chapman Callaghan, who reviewed Pirate Diary for School Library Journal, found that the "myriad ink-and-watercolor illustrations help illuminate the dramatic events" of the story. "Kids looking for adventure will certainly find plenty of it here," Callaghan concluded. One Publishers Weekly contributor commented on the variety of drawings with which Riddell supplied readers, including "spot illustrations, dramatic full-page and full-spread scenes, and a detailed cutaway of the ship." The reviewer concluded that "with verve and puckish humor, they easily transport readers to high times on the high seas."
While Riddell makes his home in England, he continues to travel and spends many summers in Italy. In addition to illustrating for his profession, Riddell enjoys spending his free time drawing and painting.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 1988, Phillis Wilson, review of The Trouble with Elephants, p. 413; October 15, 2001, Helen Rosenberg, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 402; December 15, 2001, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter, p. 732; July, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Beyond the Deepwoods, p. 1844.
Bookseller, January 24, 2003, review of Muddle Earth, p. 29; July 18, 2003, "Briggs' Blooming Books," pp. 22-23.
Books for Keeps, March, 1988, Jill Bennett, review of Mr. Underbed, p. 17; November, 1992, Liz Waterland, review of The Wish Factory, p. 16.
Books Magazine, autumn, 2001, review of Platypus, p. 18.
Horn Book, November-December, 1997, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Swan's Stories, p. 689.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Platypus, p. 577; July 1, 2002, review of Platypus and the Lucky Day, p. 962; July 1, 2004, review of Beyond the Deepwoods, p. 637.
Observer (London, England), October 28, 2001, review of Platypus, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, February 27, 1987, review of Bird'sNew Shoes, p. 164; June 4, 2001, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 82; October 22, 2001, review of Pirate Diary, p. 77; April 15, 2002, review of Platypus, p. 62; July 8, 2002, "Encore! Encore!," review of Platypus and the Lucky Day, p. 51; June 16, 2003, "True Companions," review of What Do You Remember?, p. 73.; August 25, 2003, review of Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess, p. 67.
School Librarian, February, 1991, Margaret Banerjee, review of The Wish Factory, p. 20.
School Library Journal, September, 1987, Lauralyn Persson, review of Bird's New Shoes, p. 169; March, 1989, Lori A. Janick, review of The Trouble with Elephants, pp. 168-69; July, 2001, Ann Cook, review of Rabbit's Wish, p. 89; December, 2001, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Pirate Diary, p. 142.
Green Man Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (April 27, 2004), Marian McHugh, review of Beyond the Deepwoods.
World Book Day Festival,http://www.worldbookdayfestival.com/ (April 27, 2004), author profile.*