Sper, Emily 1957-

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SPER, Emily 1957-

PERSONAL: Born 1957, in New York, NY; daughter of Roy (in magazine publishing) and Rose (a book editor) Sper. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A. (photography), 1978; New York University, M.A. (media ecology), 1986.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Scholastic, 555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999.

CAREER: E. P. Dutton, New York, NY, junior designer of children's books, 1979-80; Studio Oron, Gil Goldfine Agency, Tel Aviv, Israel, graphic designer, 1980-83; Putnam & Grosset Group, New York, NY, director of marketing services, 1986-90; writer, illustrator, children's book designer, graphic designer, and photographer, 1990—. Photographs are represented in solo and group exhibitions.


Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

The Passover Seder: Touch, Turn, Open, and Learn! Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: Emily Sper told CA: "I grew up in a house full of books. Because my mother was an editor, our playroom was decorated with book jackets. Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats was one of my favorites. When I wasn't playing sports or wandering through the woods behind my house, I read books (for me, books were much more exciting than television!), drew pictures, and wrote stories. In middle school, when I learned how to develop and print photographs, photography became my new passion.

"It's magical to watch the book you are writing take on a life of its own. When I began to write my first book, Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew,and Yiddish, I didn't intend to include Hebrew and Yiddish, but it was impossible for me not to! Both languages are rich with vocabulary and expression, and I hope that the words in my book will serve as a springboard to learn more. By understanding language, we gain a greater understanding of tradition and culture. I still regret that there wasn't room to include Latino, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic!

"When you write books you write about what is closest to you, and the Jewish holidays are part of me. In the past I started books about both Hanukkah and Passover but never finished them. It was only when I decided to dedicate time to working on self-generated books and projects that I really concentrated on the ideas floating around my head. Advances in technology allowed me to develop my own style of illustration and to print color book dummies in my studio. Because I design my own books, I am able work on all aspects of a book at the same time and this gives me a lot of control.

"I have been asked what my goal was in making books that are so bright, colorful, and interactive. One goal is to create something that amuses ME. If I have fun, children will too! Another is to present information in a fun context. I also hope that my books will add meaning to children's lives and arouse curiosity."



Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2001, review of Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, p. 48; February 24, 2003, review of The Passover Seder: Touch, Turn, Open, and Learn! p. 29.

School Library Journal, October, 2001, review of Hanukkah, p. 70.


Emily Sper Web site,http://www.emilysper.com (June 29, 2003).