Drescher, Henrik 1955–

views updated

Drescher, Henrik 1955–

Personal

Born December 15, 1955, in Denmark; immigrated to United States, 1967; married Lauren Weber (an artist), 1986 (marriage ended); married Wu Wing Yee, July 11, 2005; children: three. Education: Studied illustrating at Boston Museum School.

Addresses

HomeSan Francisco, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Chronicle Books, 86 2nd St., 6th Fl., San Francisco, CA 94105. E-mail[email protected]

Career

Writer and illustrator. Conducts workshops on book-making for children.

Awards, Honors

Best Illustrated Book designations, New York Times Book Review, 1982, for The Strange Appearance of Howard Cranebill, Jr., 1983, for Simon's Book, and 1987, for The Yellow Umbrella; Parents' Choice award, and Graphic Gallery showcase of books selection, Horn Book, both for Simon's Book.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

The Strange Appearance of Howard Cranebill, Jr., Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1982, reprinted, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2006.

Simon's Book, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1983, reprinted, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

(With Calvin Zeit) True Paranoid Facts!, Quill (New York, NY), 1983.

Looking for Santa Claus, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1984.

Look-alikes, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1985.

Whose Scaly Tail? African Animals You'd Like to Meet (nonfiction), Lippincott (New York, NY), 1987.

Whose Furry Nose? Australian Animals You'd Like to Meet (nonfiction), Lippincott (New York, NY), 1987.

The Yellow Umbrella, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1987.

Pat the Beastie: A Pull-and-Poke Book, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

The Boy Who Ate Around, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.

Klutz, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.

Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Drescher's books have been translated into German and Japanese.

ILLUSTRATOR

Harriet Ziefert, All Clean!, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Harriet Ziefert, All Gone!, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Harriet Ziefert, Cock-a-Doodle-Doo!, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Harriet Ziefert, Run! Run!, Harper (New York, NY), 1986.

Mark Dittrick and Diane Kender Dittrick, Misnomers, Collier Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Jack Prelutsky, selector, Poems of A. Nonny Mouse, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.

Joel C. Harris, Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby, adapted by Eric Metaxas, Rabbit Ears Books (Saxonville, MA), 1990.

Marc Ian Barasch, No Plain Pets, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Eric Metaxas, The Fool and the Flying Ship, Rabbit Ears Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Richard Wilbur, Opposites, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.

Richard Wilbur, Runaway Opposites, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.

Ken Nordine, Colors, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Leigh Ann Tyson, An Interview with Harry the Tarantula, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2003.

Judy Sierra, The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

OTHER

Tales from the Crib: True Confessions of a Shameless Procreator (for adults), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.

Turbulence: A Log Book (for adults), Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

Postal Séance: A Scientific Investigation into the Possibility of a Post-life Postal Existence, Chronicle (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

Contributor of editorial illustrations to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review and Rolling Stone.

Adaptations

Simon's Book was adapted as a filmstrip by Random House.

Work in Progress

Every Day I Prey: The Dread See Scrolls.

Sidelights

Henrik Drescher is the author and illustrator of The Strange Appearance of Howard Cranebill, Jr. and Simon's Book, award-winning children's books known for their innovative artwork. Born in Denmark, Drescher came to the United States with his family when he was an adolescent. Though he decided to become an artist at age fifteen, he later pursued little formal training, opting instead to travel the world with a drawing notebook in hand. "I travel often," the author told Jim Roginski in Parents' Choice. "Notebooks are my way of keeping in touch with bookmaking. I draw in little theme books. This is where a lot of my ideas come from. All the squiggles, the lines, the textures—all graphic and sensual."

Beginning his career as a political illustrator, Drescher contributed editorial drawings to periodicals, including Rolling Stone and the New York Times Book Review. The author told Roginski that the inspiration for his first book, The Strange Appearance of Howard Cranebill, Jr., came when "a friend … encouraged me to do children's books, or to try one anyway. I always put it off. Eventually I got to the point when I thought I had something in me. That was Howard Cranebill."

The Strange Appearance of Howard Cranebill, Jr. was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 1982. Critics praised Drescher's pictures for their characteristic combination of squiggly lines, splotches of paint, and decorative borders. In creating his singular style, the illustrator acknowledges that he was influenced by the artists of northern Europe. "Drawing is a cultural phenomenon there," Drescher told Roginski, "it's all around you. My line quality, my spontaneity, my sensibility is northern European. I draw very heavily from their traditions and bookmaking."

In addition to their distinctive illustrations, Drescher's books are noted for their unique and delightful stories. As the author pointed out to Roginski, "my purpose with children's books is to open the book up, engage the mind. That's if I have a 'Big Purpose' at all. My personal purpose is to make children's books fun!" In Simon's Book, for example, an artistic young boy named Simon dreams one night that he is being pursued by a fearsome but ultimately friendly monster. Two pens and a bottle of ink come to life in order to draw Simon's way to safety. "Original, fresh, and engaging," commented Mary M. Burns in Horn Book, "the book is deliciously thrilling but never terrifying."

Though Drescher had received attention from critics and industry colleagues, with Pat the Beastie: A Pull-and-Poke Book his work began reaching a wider audience. An irreverent parody of Edith Kunhardt's children's classic Pat the Bunny, Drescher's book shows the importance of not being mean while also poking fun at the sweetness of the original version. His next title, The Boy Who Ate Around, shows a similar irreverence, this time poking fun at traditional meal time. Mo wants to have nothing to do with the string bean-and-cheese soufflé being served to him at dinner, so he eats around it: he eats the plate, the table, and his house, turning into a warty green monster in the process. As he continues

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

to eat his city, then countries, and eventually the world, he becomes a larger and larger monster. Eventually, lonely because he has eaten everyone, Mo spits out everything he has eaten and turns back into a normal boy. "The whole delightful fantasy is sure to be a hit with children," assured Horn Book reviewer Martha V. Parravano. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that "this gleefully weird picture book finds the redemptive comedy in an all-too-familiar dinner-table disaster."

While Klutz also pokes fun at family life, the Klutz family is far wackier than the norm. Unable to fit into normal life, they find a home at the circus, where their oddities are considered talents. "An offbeat sense of humor (and an appreciation for exaggeration) is required to enjoy these verbal and visual high jumps," noted a critic for Publishers Weekly. Another picture book, Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale, is a story of self-discovery. Hubert, a Pudge, is raised to believe that his life will never amount to anything, but he escapes to the wild, changes his diet, and realizes his destiny.

Whose Furry Nose? Australian Animals You'd Like to Meet and Whose Scaly Tail? African Animals You'd Like to Meet, two nonfiction books that teach children to identify some less familiar animals, are among Drescher's other self-illustrated titles. He has also illustrated works for other writers, including Eric Metaxas, Harriet Ziefert, and Jack Prelutsky. His work on Colors, written by Ken Nordine, consists almost wholly of double-paged spreads that accompany Nordine's poetry about odd colors. "From the scribble of colors on the cover to the very last page, they extend the jazzy character of the poems," wrote Marianne Saccardi in School Library Journal. Drescher has also written and illustrated several titles for adults, including Turbulence: A Log Book, which is something of an artist's book, and Postal Séance: A Scientific Investigation into the Possibility of a Post-life Postal Existence, which critics have compared to the eclectic post-card books in the Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock. "Drescher dazzles with his craft and creativity," Gordon Flagg wrote in a Booklist review of Turbulence. Willis M. Buhle noted in Reviewer's Bookwatch that with Postal Séance, "an odd, fun visually embellished collection evolves."

According to Steven Heller in Print, Drescher "is an illustrator with an instinctive gift for making art that both repels and attracts…. He has a knack, too, for using nightmarish imagery and grotesque humor to challenge the demons of children and adults." According to Heller, this talent has not only given Drescher "a place in an overcrowded field, but with each book and every drawing, [he] touches more and more people."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Children's Literature Review, Volume 20, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 1995, review of Pat the Beastie: A Pull-and-Poke Book, p. 1416; April 15, 1995, Mary Harris Veeder, review of Runaway Opposites, p. 1497; October 1, 2001, Gordon Flagg, review of Turbulence, p. 291.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), January 4, 1986.

Horn Book, December, 1983, p. 699; September-October, 1987, review of Whose Scaly Tail? African Animals You'd Like to Meet, p. 626; January-February, 1990, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Poems of A. Nonny Mouse, p. 82; September-October, 1991, Jesseca Ferguson, "Interview with Henrik Drescher," pp. 556-572; September-October, 1994, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Boy Who Ate Around, p. 574.

New York Times Book Review, November 8, 1987.

Parents' Choice, autumn, 1985, pp. 11, 26.

People, November 28, 1994, review of The Boy Who Ate Around, p. 35.

Print, January-February, 1995, Steven Heller, "Acceptable Behavior," p. 44; September-October, 2001, Julie Lasky, "Book of Genesis," p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, July 5, 1991, review of No Plain Pets!, p. 65; November 15, 1992, review of Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby, p. 24; September 20, 1993; September 20, 1993, review of Pat the Beastie, p. 71; October 10, 1994, review of The Boy Who Ate Around, p. 70; March 13, 1995, review of Runaway Opposites, p. 68; July 29, 1996, review of Klutz, p. 87; February 28, 2000, review of Colors, p. 81.

Quill & Quire, October, 1994, review of The Boy Who Ate Around, p. 46.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, November, 2004, Willis M. Buhle, review of Postal Séance.

School Arts, September, 2000, Ken Marantz, review of Colors, p. 58.

School Library Journal, November, 1987, Patricia Dooley, review of The Yellow Umbrella, p. 89; March, 1988, Catherine Wood, review of Whose Furry Nose? Australian Animals You'd Like to Meet and Whose Scaly Tail?, p. 181; April, 1990, Luann Toth, review of Poems of A. Nonny Mouse, p. 110; December, 1991, Beverly Bixler, review of The Fool and the Flying Ship, p. 63; December, 1996, Virginia Golodetz, review of Klutz, p. 92; April, 2000, Marianne Saccardi, review of Colors, p. 154.

Time, December 11, 1989, Stefan Kanfer, review of Poems of A. Nonny Mouse, p. 102.

ONLINE

Hans Drescher Home Page, http://www.hdrescher.com (June 23, 2006).

Simon Bosch Illustration Digital Gallery, http://www.digital-illustration.com.au/ (June 23, 2006), interview with Drescher.