Married. Education: University of Massachusetts—Amherst, B.A, 1995. Hobbies and other interests: Salsa dancing, horseback riding, badminton.
Home—Lynnfield, MA. E-mail—[email protected]
Children's author and illustrator. Graphic designer in advertising, beginning c. 1996.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Achieve the Dream illustration contest winner, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), 2005; Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, Illustration West 44 Certificate of Merit, 2006; SCBWI New England, Grand Prize Portfolio winner, 2006.
Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
The Raucous Royals: Uncovering the Rumors of Misbehaving Monarchs, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.
Carlyn Beccia is a Massachusetts-based graphic designer who has also found success as an illustrator for children. Her picture-book debut, Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, draws on her long-time interest in old-time traveling circuses as well as on her knowledge of vintage type faces and the design of circus ephemera at the turn of the twentieth century.
In Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? Beccia pairs a rhyming text with colorful illustrations and interesting facts about famous circus acts and performers from big-top history to create a unique alphabet book for children. In her artwork, which is designed to mimic circus posters, she captures the excitement experienced by communities throughout the country when the circus rolled into town, bringing all manner of strange sights, from lions, tigers, and elephants to snake charmers, acrobats, clowns, and strong men. In School Library Journal, Grace Oliff called Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? "visually appealing, well-designed, [and] clearly written," although she noted that young readers might be confused over the historical timeline. A Kirkus Reviews critic had special praise for Beccia's digital art, writing that her "fanciful, alphabetical survey of early circus performers, showcases her facility in graphic design." Noting that "modern circuses are certainly tamer than the turn-of-the-[twentieth-]century versions explored" in Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? a Publishers Weekly critic predicted that "today's readers may be as entranced by Beccia's depictions of such spectacles as their forebears were by the real thing."
Discussing her first book with Cynthia Leitich Smith for Cynsations online, Beccia explained that she was inspired to write Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? by "all these wacky and wonderful performers, especially those showcased in the sideshows of the early circuses. For example, there was the petite, but fearless tiger trainer, Mabel Stark, who slept with her favorite tiger, Rajah. Then there were invented spectacles like P.T. Barnum's Feejee Mermaid—a fantastical combination of a monkey's head and a fish's tail made to look like a real mermaid." "Many books have the underlying message that it is cool to be unique," Beccia added, "but in the days of the circus it really did pay to be different. The strangeness of each one of the performers didn't make them handicapped, it made them true stars."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 1, 2007, review of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, p. 55.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2007, Elizabeth Bush, review of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, p. 360.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?
Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007, review of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, p. 51.
School Library Journal, May, 2007, Grace Oliff, review of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?, p. 85.
Carlyn Beccia Home Page,http://www.whoballyhoo.com (June 15, 2008).
Cynsations Web site,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (September 5, 2007), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Beccia.