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Emmett, Jonathan 1965-

Emmett, Jonathan 1965-

Personal

Born December 10, 1965, in Leicester, England; son of Robert (a rig fitter) and Joyce (a teacher) Emmett; married Rachel Grover (an arts administrator), July 30, 1994; children: Max, Laura. Education: Nottingham University, B.A. (honors architecture), 1988, B. Arch. (honors architecture), 1993. Hobbies and other interests: "Walking, reading, furniture design, and tinkering with my Web site."

Addresses

Home—England. Agent—Caroline Walsh, David Hingham Associates, 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Square, London W1F 9HA, England. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer, illustrator, and paper engineer. Worked for several years as an architect, mid-1990s.

Awards, Honors

Southampton Favourite Book to Share Award, 2003, for A Turtle in the Toilet, and 2006, for Zoom!; Kiekeboekprojs (Netherlands), 2003, for Bringing Down the Moon; Norfolk Libraries Children's Book Award, and Red House Children's Book Award, both 2006, both for Pigs Might Fly!; Richard and Judy's Best Kids' Books Award shortlist, for Someone Bigger.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Doohickey and the Robot, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1999.

Ten Little Monsters: A Counting Book, illustrated by Ant Parker, Kingfisher, (New York, NY), 2000, with finger puppet set, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

Fox's New Coat, illustrated by Penny Ives, Viking (London, England), 2000.

Bringing down the Moon, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Dinosaurs after Dark, illustrated by Curtis Jobling, Golden Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Cosmo for Captain, illustrated by Peter Rutherford, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2002, published as Dino Boulder Ball, illustrated by Peter Rutherford, Picture Window (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

A Turtle in the Toilet, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, Tiger Tales Books (Wilton, CT), 2002.

A Mouse inside the Marmalade, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, Tiger Tales Books (Wilton, CT), 2002.

Terry Takes Off, illustrated by Peter Rutherford, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2003.

Through the Heart of the Jungle, illustrated by Elena Gomez, Tiger Tales Books (Wilton, CT), 2003.

Someone Bigger, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2003.

What Friends Do Best, illustrated by Nathan Reed, HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.

Creatures Colours (pop-up book), Gullane Children's (London, England), 2004.

Robots, HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.

Once upon a Time upon a Nest, illustrated by Rebecca Harry, Macmillan Children's Books (London, England), 2004, published as Ruby in Her Own Time, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004 published as Ruby Flew Too!, Macmillan Children's Books, 2005.

Someone Bigger, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2004.

No Place like Home, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Safari Shapes (pop-up book), Gullane Children's (London, England), 2005.

Pigs Might Fly: The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs, illustrated by Steve Cox, Puffin (London, England), 2005.

Zoom!, illustrated by Christyan Fox, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2005.

Diamond in the Snow, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Rabbit's Day Off!, illustrated by Thomas Taylor, Gullane Children's (London, England), 2006.

Captain Comet and the Purple Planet, illustrated by Andy Parker, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2006.

If We Had a Sailboat, illustrated by Adrian Reynolds, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2006.

Dig It, Build It!, illustrated by Christyan Fox, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2006.

This Way, Ruby!, illustrated by Rebecca Harry, Macmillan (London, England), 2006, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.

I Love You Always and Forever, illustrated by Daniel Howarth, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.

Terry Takes Off, illustrated by Peter Rutherford, Picture Window Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

(Reteller) She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain, illustrated by Deborah Allwright, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2007.

Captain Comet and the Dog Star, illustrated by Andy Parker, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2007.

Author's books have been translated into other languages, including French, German, Danish, Finish, Slovenian, Swedish, and Friesian.

"CONJUROR'S COOKBOOK" SERIES

Goblin Stew, illustrated by Colin Paine, Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000.

Serpent Soup, illustrated by Colin Paine, Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000.

Ghostly Goulash, illustrated by Colin Paine, Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000.

Fairy Cake, Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000.

Sidelights

Wanting to write children's books, Jonathan Emmett itched to leave his job as an architect, but he didn't dare, even though his wife Rachel offered to support the family. "I couldn't face the possibility of giving up a steady job and then failing to get anything published," he once told SATA. Finally he got a push in 1995 when he was laid off. Within three months, he had found a literary agent and even sold a pop-up book called Scraposaurus Wrecks. Although that book was never published, it led Emmett to other opportunities, as he recalled: "Although this was a big disappointment, the fact that I had sold the story, and been commissioned to illustrate and paper-engineer it, gave me the confidence to continue working on children's books."

Emmett's interest in books dates from childhood, when as a young boy he made a spare bedroom into a library for his parents' books, arranging them by color and size. He once told SATA, "I can remember visiting our local library as a toddler. The books that we borrowed then, including Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, have a great influence on the picture book stories that I now write. The first ‘proper’ book that I read for myself was The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I went on to read other popular children's authors like C.S. Lewis, but like many children of my generation, the author who made the biggest impression on my early childhood was Roald Dahl." While in grade school Emmett wrote a weekly serial instead of the assigned short stories.

"It wasn't until I was about fourteen years old that it occurred to me that I might write for a living," he explained to SATA. As a student he elaborately decorated his school notebook covers to look like the book jackets of novels, complete with publishers' blurbs. Ultimately, however, Emmett studied architecture in college. The urge to write still simmered within him, however; as he recalled to SATA, "It was while I was at college that I first started developing my skills as a writer and illustrator." Joining a few friends and attempting to start a band, he started writing song lyrics. "Then one day, I decided to try and do an illustration to accompany the lyrics to one of the songs. I was pleased with the result, so I illustrated some of my poems, spending more and more time on each picture."

Meanwhile, earning his architecture degree in 1988, Emmett joined an architecture firm and worked on projects that included an art gallery, a theater, and an airport check-in building. Losing this job, he finally gave himself the permission to reach for his dream. "My first three children's books (a chapter fiction, a novel and a pop-up book) got nowhere," he explained on his home page, "but they whetted my appetite for creating children's books and my fourth book was accepted by a publisher in 1996." Since then, Emmett has published picture books, mostly illustrated by other artists, as well as pop-up books and early chapter books geared to children aged seven to nine.

Although paper engineering is now taught in technical schools in Great Britain, at the time Emmett entered the pop-up-book field, he had to teach himself the rudiments. "I learnt all of my paper engineering by trial and error and by studying mechanisms from existing books and adapting them," he explained. To help others, Emmett provides tips and refers future paper engineers to some useful handbooks via his home page. He also answers the perennial question: Where do you get your ideas? "Anywhere and everywhere—books, television, cinema, real life. Working on one book will often throw out an idea for another. I jot the new idea down and come back to it later. Sometimes I can't get an idea to work well as a story the first time I look at it, but if I put it to one side and come back to it a few months (or even a few years) later, I'm often able to finish it off."

Among Emmett's many books for children are the "Conjuror's Cookbook" series of early chapter books, featuring such delectable titles as Goblin Stew and Serpent Soup. Other works include the pop-up books Ten Little Monsters: A Counting Book and Safari Shapes, and picture books such as Dinosaurs after Dark, Bringing down the Moon, Pigs Might Fly: The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs, and I Love You Always and Forever. In a slight change of pace, his retelling of an American folk song in She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain, with its high-energy, fold-out artwork by Deborah Allwright, presents storytime audiences with an "uproarious" read in which Emmett "encourages kids to participate in joyful, silly actions," according to Booklist critic Hazel Rochman.

Bringing down the Moon, about a mole who tries to touch the moon and fears he has broken it, was highly praised for its artwork by Vanessa Cabban, as well as its ambiance and "unadorned gentle prose," to quote a Publishers Weekly writer. According to School Library Journal contributor Anne Knickerbocker, Emmett's use of onomatopoeia adds to the book's read-aloud appeal. In Booklist Connie Fletcher dubbed Bringing down the Moon "comical" and "thought-provoking," while a Kirkus Reviews writer described the author's simple story as a "sweet lesson in not getting what you want."

Cabban and Emmett team up again for No Place like Home, in which Mole asks each of his animal friends to help him find the perfect cozy new burrow, and Diamond in the Snow, where Mole experiences his first winter. "Children will love" the book's "cozy characters," predicted Kelley Rae Unger in her review of No Place like Home for School Library Journal. Noting that Cabban's "cartoonlike animals portray the playfulness and rambunctiousness" typical of toddlers, Jessica Lamarre concluded in the same periodical that in Diamond in the Snow Emmett successfully "capture[s] the magic and curiosity" of young children.

I Love You Always and Forever features artwork by Daniel Howarth and is classic Emmett in its gentle story about father and daughter fieldmice. After a day spent playing in a sunny field, the father, Longtail, reassures his young offspring, Littletail, that, although many things may change, his love will always remain strong. Praising Howarth's realistic illustrations, Linda Staskus described Emmett's story as "a simple, heartwarming tale of companionship and a parent's unconditional love," while a Kirkus Reviews writer called the book "one of those standouts where text and illustrations are in perfect unison." A flock of ducklings are the focus of another family-centered story in Ruby in Her Own Time, one of several collaborations with artist Rebecca Harry that Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin dubbed "a winning read."

Brought to life in illustrations by Elena Gomez, Through the Heart of the Jungle features Emmett's cumulative rhyme about a buzzing fly that is gobbled up by a spider, which in turn is swallowed by a frog, and so in before the food chain is finally broken by the arrival of a large lion. Readers can follow a trip of a different but equally exotic nature in Dinosaurs after Dark. Describing the latter book, in which Emmett takes readers along on a midnight jaunt down a dinosaur-filled street, Carol L. MacKay wrote in School Library Journal that the picture book should hold a special fascination for little boys. "Dino stories have huge appeal," the critic noted, "and Emmett's offering is no exception."

On his inventive home page, which the author has named "Scribble Street," Emmett gives would-be writers and illustrators some friendly advice: 1. "Get stuck in!" (meaning get going and "don't be disappointed if the first things you write are not as impressive as you'd hoped"); 2. "Think ahead!" (meaning make an outline); 3. "Always use the POINTY end of the pencil! You'll find it's much easier to write with."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of Bringing down the Moon, p. 946; February 15, 2004, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Ruby in Her Own Time, p. 1062; March 1, 2004, Lauren Peterson, review of Someone Bigger, p. 1193; December 15, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of This Way, Ruby!, p. 51; April 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain, p. 54.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 2007, Hope Morrison, review of She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain, p. 464.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Bringing down the Moon, p. 1357; January 1, 2002, review of Dinosaurs after Dark, p. 45; January 1, 2004, review of Ruby in Her Own Time, p. 36; February 15, 2004, review of Someone Bigger, p. 176; March 1, 2005, review of No Place like Home, p. 285; January 1, 2006, review of What Friends Do Best, p. 40; December 1, 2006, review of I Love You Always and Forever, p. 1219; April 1, 2007, review of She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain.

Publishers Weekly, November 5, 2001, review of Bringing down the Moon, p. 66; December 24, 2001, review of Dinosaurs after Dark, p. 62; March 24, 2003, review of Through the Heart of the Jungle, p. 74; February 23, 2004, review of Someone Bigger, p. 74.

School Library Journal, January, 2002, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Bringing down the Moon, p. 98; June, 2002, Carol L. MacKay, review of Dinosaurs after Dark, pp. 92-93; September, 2003, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Through the Heart of the Jungle, p. 177; March, 2004, Sawn Brommer, review of Ruby in Her Own Time, p. 156; May, 2004, G. Alyssa Parkinson, review of Someone Bigger, p. 109; March, 2005, Kelley Rae Unger, review of No Place like Home, p. 170; February, 2007, Susan E. Murray, review of This Way, Ruby!, p. 86; March, 2007, Mary Jean Smith, review of She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain, p. 160; April, 2007, Jessica Lamarre, review of Diamond in the Snow, and Linda Staskus, review of I Love You Always and Forever, both p. 98.

ONLINE

Jonathan Emmett Home Page,http://scribblestreet.co.uk (March 10, 2008).

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