Male. Education: Art Center College of Design, B.F.A.
Home and office—Pasadena, CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Author and illustrator. Freelance illustrator; instructor at Art Center College of Design and Otis School of Art and Design.
Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.
Dutch Sneakers and Flea-Keepers: 14 More Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
(Illustrator) John Harris, Greece! Rome! Monsters!, J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA), 2002.
Tippintown: A Guided Tour, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
Calef Brown originally began his career as a freelance illustrator by creating works for such high-profile periodicals as the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Newsweek. Brown became interested in writing and illustrating children's books when the fast-paced, deadline-oriented life of freelancing began to wear thin. As he explained in an online interview with Illustration Mundo, his intent in writing his first children's book was to "illustrate something of my own that would have a longer shelf life than the magazine pieces that I was doing." His aim was achieved: his first self-illustrated children's book, Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories, was published in 1998 and went into five printings. In this book, as well as Brown's other books for
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young children, he mixes original poetry with his folk-art inspired illustrations. He commented to Illustration Mundo that his texts are designed to be "read aloud. I want them to be musical—some rhythmic, percussive and lively, others quiet and atmospheric."
Critics have acknowledged Brown's skill both as a writer and an illustrator. Susan Dove Lempke, in her evaluation of Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings for Horn Book, commented on his ability to balance a well-written text with engaging, colorful illustrations and noted that the book's "imaginative wordplay is matched by … [Brown's] acrylic paintings depicting people and places in unusual hues." Other reviewers have pinpointed the effortlessness of Brown's poems. A Kirkus Reviews critic cited his ability to create audibly pleasing poetry with child appeal. Noting that Brown's texts are "composed with a fine ear for consistent rhythms and silly wordplay," the critic concluded that books such as Flamingos on the Roof "will tempt readers into repeat visits."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 15, 1998, John Peters, review of Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories, p. 1243; April 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Dutch Sneakers and Flea-Keepers: 14 More Stories, p. 1456; April 15, 2003, Michael Cart, review of Tippintown: A Guided Tour, p. 1475; April 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings, p. 44.
Horn Book, May-June, 2006, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Flamingos on the Roof, p. 337.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of Flamingos on the Roof, p. 286.
Publishers Weekly, March, 1998, review of Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks, p. 67; April 17, 2000, review of Dutch Sneakers and Flea-Keepers, p. 78; April 9, 2001, review of Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks, p. 28; October 7, 2002, review of Greece! Rome! Monsters!, p. 73; March 3, 2003, review of Tippintown, p. 75; March 20, 2006, review of Flamingos on the Roof, p. 55.
School Library Journal, April, 2000, Linda M. Kenton, review of Dutch Sneakers and Flea-Keepers, p. 118; May, 2003, Liza Graybill, review of Tippintown, p. 108; July, 2006, Susan Scheps, review of Flamingos on the Roof, p. 118.
Calef Brown Home Page,http://www.calefbrown.com (May 12, 2007).
Houghton Mifflin Web site,http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (May 12, 2007), "Calef Brown."
Illustration Mundo Web site,http://www.illustrationmundo.com/ (March 31, 2007), Nate Williams, interview with Brown.