Abulafia, Yossi 1944-

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Abulafia, Yossi 1944-

(Yossi Abolafia)


Surname sometimes transliterated "Abolafia"; born Joseph David Abulafia, June 4, 1944, in Tiberias, Israel; son of Jacob (a shopkeeper) and Aliza (a homemaker) Abulafia; married Irit Eliav (a lawyer), July 10, 1972; children: Michal, Tal, Itamar. Education: Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Jerusalem), graduated, 1965. Religion: Jewish.


Home—Har Adar, Israel. Office—6 Hacarmel St., Jerusalem 94309, Israel.


Author and illustrator. Israeli Television Authority, Jerusalem, writer, editor, actor, on-camera political cartoonist, and contributor to children's programming, 1968-76, 1978-80; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Toronto, Ontario, animation director, 1976; National Film Board of Canada, Montreal, Quebec, director of animation, 1976-78, 1980-83; freelance animator, New York, NY, 1982-84; freelance writer and illustrator, 1983—. Military service: Israel Defense Forces, 1965-68.

Awards, Honors

Two Ben-Zvi Prizes for illustration, Israel Museum, including 1976; American Israel Cultural Foundation fellowship, 1976; Book of the Year awards, Child Study Association of America, for Harry's Mom and My Parents Think I'm Sleeping, both 1986, and for Aviva's Piano, 1987; American Library Association Notable Book designation, for Harry's Visit and Harry's Dog; two Hans Christian Andersen citations for illustration; Nahum Gutman Prize for Illustration, 1993.



My Three Uncles, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1985.

Yanosh's Island, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1987.

A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1988.

Fox Tale, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1989.


Charlotte Pomerantz, Buffy and Albert, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1982.

Jack Prelutsky, It's Valentine's Day, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1983.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry's Visit, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1983.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry's Dog, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1984.

Jack Prelutsky, What I Did Last Summer (poems), Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1984.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry's Mom, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1985.

Jack Prelutsky, My Parents Think I'm Sleeping (poems), Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1985, reprinted, 2007.

Miriam Chaikin, Aviva's Piano, Clarion (New York, NY), 1986.

Susan Love Whitlock, Donovan Scares the Monsters, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1987.

Franz Brandenberg, Leo and Emily's Zoo, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1988.

SuAnn Kiser and Kevin Kiser, The Birthday Thing, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1989.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry in Trouble, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1989.

Meir Shalev, Aba 'oseh bushot, translated by Dagmar Herrmann as My Father Always Embarrasses Me, Wellington, 1990.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry Gets an Uncle, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1991.

Lia Nirgad, A Kiss for Lily, [Israel], 1991, McAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Barbara Ann Porte, Taxicab Tales, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1992.

Barbara Ann Porte, A Turkey Drive, and Other Tales, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1992.

Else Holmelund Minarik, Am I Beautiful?, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1992.

Nicholas Heller, Ten Old Pails, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1993.

Robert Kalan, Stop, Thief!, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1993.

Jessie Haas, Busybody Brandy, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1994.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry's Birthday, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1994.

Robert Kalan, Moving Day, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Robert Kalan, Clean House, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1996.

Barbara Ann Porte, Harry's Pony, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 1997.

Hagit Allon and Lena Zehavi, The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israel Museum (Jerusalem, Israel), 2003.

Nira Harel, The Key to My Heart, Kane-Miller (La Jolla, CA), 2003.

Jack Prelutsky, It's Snowing! It's Snowing!: Winter Poems, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Also illustrator of Yiddish-language texts for children written by Meir Shalev.


Israeli artist Yossi Abulafia is an award-winning illustrator who has also worked as a film director, scriptwriter, and animator. Although he has created artwork for his original picture-book texts My Three Uncles, Yanosh's Island, A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia, and Fox Tales, Abulafia is better known as an illustrator. Since 1982, when his first illustration project, Charlotte Pomerantz's Buffy and Albert, was published, he has created art for numerous books, among them Nira Harel's The Key to My Heart, Robert Kalan's Moving Day, and the "Harry" series of beginning readers featuring stories by Barbara Ann Porte.

Praising the illustrator's work for Harry's Birthday, which finds Porte's popular young hero worried about an upcoming birthday, Horn Book contributor Ellen Fader wrote that, in addition to incorporating a flipbook cartoon into the bottom corner of each page, "Abulafia's lighthearted watercolor and black line drawings add details that extend the story." Carolyn Phelan had similar praise in her review of another book in the "Harry" series, writing that the illustrator brings to life Harry's Pony "with sensitivity and humor." Discussing The Key to My Heart, Horn Book contributor Susan P. Bloom praised the illustrator's "good-natured watercolors." Reviewing th same book, a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that, in his characteristically "easygoing style," Abulafia draws readers into Harel's story about a father and son's search for lost keys in their "cozy [Israeli] neighborhood." Effectively echoing Harel's "reassuring" theme about "the importance of community" in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly contributor, Abulafia also adds a "gentle humor" to The Key to My Heart through his "uncomplicated, inviting line drawings."

Growing up near the Sea of Galilee, the artistically inclined Abulafia spent much of his childhood doodling. He became more serious about art when he was sent to a kibbutz high school and assigned the task of illustrating and designing the school's monthly newspaper. After studying graphic design at the Bezalel Art Academy, he worked as an illustrator and cartoonist at the Israeli Army magazine while fulfilling the compulsory military service required of all citizens of his country. In 1968, Abulafia was hired as a news cartoonist for the newly instituted Israeli Television Authority. During the late 1960s and early 1970s he worked as an animator in Israel, then immigrated to Canada and North America for several years where he continued his career in television. In 1974 he was approached by an Israeli publishing house to illustrate some children's picture books, and some years later the chief editor at Greenwillow Books suggested that he try his hand at writing his own stories. In 1985 Abulafia published My Three Uncles, the first of his original self-illustrated picture books.

My Three Uncles recounts a young girl's efforts to tell her identical triplet uncles apart. Through his simple story, Abulafia suggests to readers that a person's true identity stems from what they do rather than from what

they wear or how they appear. A reviewer in School Library Journal wrote that while Abulafia's text consists mainly of dialogue, his story is brought to life by his "breezy line drawings."

Another self-illustrated picture book, A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia, finds the lonely Mr. Bennett out fishing for more than just dinner. Catching a fish, the shy, elderly man gathers the courage to invite the middle-aged Mrs. Gardenia to dinner so that she can share in his good luck. When the fish slips from his hands as he is about to put it on the grill, the flummoxed Mr. Bennett is forced to set off on a slapstick chase. Fortunately, the fish finally makes its way back to Mr. Bennett's grill, suitably cooked, allowing the man to host a lovely dinner that marks the beginning of a rewarding friendship. School Library Journal contributor Amy Spaulding wrote that Abulafia's story is infused with "gentle amusement," adding that the "cheery" illustrations in A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia complement the narrative. Horn Book reviewer Margaret A. Bush asserted that while the book's "silliness will appeal to children, … adults will enjoy the portrayal of human foibles."

In Fox Tale, Abulafia once again draws upon a combination of narrative and illustration to tell his story. Fox Tale tells of how Crow, Rabbit, Donkey, and Bear take revenge on Fox, who has previously outsmarted them. School Library Journal contributor Starr LaTronica found that "the succinct text is complemented perfectly by the humorously expressive pen-and-watercolor cartoons." Recognizing that the theme of the outsmarted fox is a folklore staple, LaTronica wrote that Abulafia injects "a genuine freshness" into his story. The "creative and nonviolent" scheming performed by the book's cast of animal characters peaks in a moment of "hairy suspense," the critic added.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 1, 1994, Carolyn Phelan, review of Ten Old Pails, p. 1458; April 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of Clean House, p. 1438; August, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Harry's Pony, p. 1910; January 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of It's Snowing! It's Snowing!: Winter Poems, p. 106.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1985, review of My Three Uncles, p. 21; April, 1991, review of Fox Tale, p. 183; April, 2003, review of The Key to My Heart, p. 315.

Horn Book, November-December, 1988, Margaret A. Bush, review of A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia, p. 767; September-October, 1994, Ellen Fader, review of Harry's Birthday, p. 583; May-June, 1996, Mary M. Burns, review of Clean House, p. 332; September-October, 1997, Maeve Visser Knoth, review of Harry's Pony, p. 577; July-August, 2003, Susan P. Bloom, review of The Key to My Heart, p. 443.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of The Key to My Heart, p. 315; February 15, 2006, review of It's Snowing! It's Snowing!, p. 190.

New York Times Book Review, October 13, 1985, review of My Three Uncles, p. 37.

Publishers Weekly, July 10, 1987, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Yanosh's Island, p. 68; May 25, 1992, review of Fox Tale, p. 65; May 27, 1996, review of Moving Day, p. 79; January 27, 2003, review of The Key to My Heart, p. 257; April 24, 2006, review of A Kiss for Lily, p. 60.

School Library Journal, April, 1985, review of My Three Uncles, p. 73; December, 1987, Ellen Loughran, review of Yanosh's Island, p. 66; November, 1988, Amy Spaulding, review of A Fish for Mrs. Gardenia, p. 83; May, 1991, p. 74; August, 1997, Dina Sherman, review of Harry's Pony, p. 138; July, 2004, Susan Scheps, review of The Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 90; July, 2006, Lee Bock, review of It's Snowing! It's Snowing!, p. 92.

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