Blythe, Gary 1959–
Blythe, Gary 1959–
Born 1959, in England. Education: Attended college until 1980.
Kate Greenaway Medal, 1990, for The Whales' Song by Dyan Sheldon.
Dyan Sheldon, The Whales' Song, Hutchinson (London, England), 1990, Dial (New York, NY), 1991.
Dyan Sheldon, The Garden, Hutchinson (London, England), 1993, published as Under the Moon, Dial (New York, NY), 1994.
Joyce Dunbar, This Is the Star, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996.
Geraldine McCaughrean, Beauty and the Beast, Double-day (London, England), 1999, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.
Nicola Davies, Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Michael Morpurgo, I Believe in Unicorns, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
(With others) Mary-Jane Knight, Vampyre: The Terrifying Found Journal of Dr. Cornelius Van Helsing and Gustav de Wolff, His Trusted Companion, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Despite his standing as an award-winning illustrator, British artist Gary Blythe takes his greatest pleasure from living a quiet life and painting. His detailed art effortlessly adapted itself to book illustration, and shortly after leaving college Blythe was able to support himself by creating cover art for paperback book editions. It was one of these covers, an image for The Goose Boy by A.L. Barker that in 1989 attracted the notice of an editor at London's Hutchinson Children's Books. Shortly thereafter, Blythe received his first and most well-known book illustration project: creating art for Dyan Sheldon's picture book The Whales' Song. In praise of this work, which won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1990, a Publishers Weekly reviewer dubbed Blythe's illustrations "extraordinary," adding that the artist's "vibrant panoramas" of the story's coastal setting "possess a rare luminosity and beauty that should not be missed."
Other books that feature Blythe's illustrations include Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear by nonfiction writer Nicola Davies, Geraldine McCaughrean's retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Michael Morpurgo's I Believe in Unicorns. Praising Ice Bear as an "inviting picture book," Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson had special praise for Blythe's "impressionistic oil paintings of stunning polar settings," while in School Library Journal Amelia Jenkins remarked that the "realistic" and "often lovely" paintings contribute substantially to the "quiet, thoughtful book." Morpurgo's story, which finds a narrator remembering a scene from his boyhood, benefits from what Susan Helper described in School Library Journal as "sensitive crosshatched pencil, black wash, and full-color watercolors," the critic adding that Blythe's art injects the book with "enough drama to entice second and third graders." A holiday-inspired work, Joyce Dunbar's This Is the Star, stands as "an exquisite rendition of the Nativity," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer who credited Blythe for contributing detailed images in "awe-inspiring oils."
Discussing his art—and his work for The Whales' Song in particular—Blythe explained to an interviewer for Publishers Weekly: "I enjoy doing dreamlike images, where you try to incorporate realism into fantasy—not so much where you have a dream and you know it's a dream, but where you have fantasy images that somehow look real. For example, I've got no access to whales, nor to whales jumping across the moon as such. Trying to make an image like that appear as though it could be feasible, as though it actually does exist, is what I've always enjoyed trying to achieve."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, June 1, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Under the Moon, p. 1845; September 1, 1996, Shelley
Townsend-Hudson, review of This Is the Star, p. 136; December 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear, p. 66; December 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of I Believe in Unicorns, p. 47.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1991, review of The Whales' Song, p. 226.
Horn Book, January-February, 2006, Betty Carter, review of Ice Bear, p. 97.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2005, review of Ice Bear, p. 1230; October 15, 2006, review of I Believe in Unicorns, p. 1075.
Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1996, review of This Is the Star, p. 88; October 9, 2000, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 87; July 5, 1991, "Flying Starts," p. 38; May 10, 1991, review of The Whales' Song, p. 281.
School Library Journal, December, 2000, Susan Scheps, review of Beauty and the Beast, p. 134; February, 2006, Amelia Jenkins, review of Ice Bear, p. 95; December, 2006, Susan Helper, review of I Believe in Unicorns, p. 110.
Walker Books Web site,http://www.walkerbooks.co.uk/ (December 15, 2007), "Gary Blythe."