Falwell, Cathryn 1952-

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Falwell, Cathryn 1952-

Personal

Born March 17, 1952, in Kansas City, KS; married Peter Mirkin; children: Alex, Eamae. Education: University of Connecticut, B.F.A., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Traveling, hiking, sewing, volunteer work with social-justice projects and children's programs, reading.

Addresses

Home—Gorham, ME. E-mail—[email protected]com.

Career

Author and illustrator. Taught school in NH; formerly worked as an art director and graphic designer in CT; founder of graphic design business, Hartford, CT.

Awards, Honors

Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts designation, National Council of Teachers of English, 1999, for Word Wizard; Best Children's Books of the Year selection, Bank Street College of Education, and Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choice designation, both 2001, both for David's Drawings; Notable Book selection, American Library Association, Maine Lupine Award Honor Book designation, and Best Children's Books of the Year selection, Bank Street College of Education, both 2001, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2004, all for Turtle Splash!; CCBC Choice designation, and Best Children's Books of the Year selection, Bank Street College of Education, both 2004, both for Butterflies for Kiri; Raising Readers book selection, 2004, for Turtle Splash!, 2008, for Feast for Ten; Maine Reads "Read with Me" selection, 2007-08, for Shape Capers.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Where's Nicky?, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Nicky 1-2-3, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Nicky and Alex, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Clowning Around, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Nicky Loves Daddy, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Shape Space, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Feast for Ten, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1993.

We Have a Baby, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1993, bilingual board-book edition published as Tenemos un bebé/We Have a Baby, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2008.

The Letter Jesters, Ticknor & Fields (New York, NY), 1994.

Dragon Tooth, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1996.

P.J. and Puppy, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Word Wizard, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Christmas for Ten, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1998.

David's Drawings, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2001.

Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Butterflies for Kiri, Lee & Low (New York, NY), 2003.

Shape Capers, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Scoot!, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2008.

Mystery Vine, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2009.

ILLUSTRATOR

Pegi Deitz Shea, New Moon, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1996.

Virginia L. Kroll, Hands!, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1997.

Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Gilliland, and Roxanne Heide Pierce, It's about Time! (poems), Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Sidelights

A former art director and graphic designer, Cathryn Falwell employs her trademark cut-paper-collage artwork in creating unique, self-illustrated books for young readers, including David's Drawings and Butterflies forKiri. "I love making picture books," Falwell remarked on her home page, adding that she also enjoys working with children's theater groups and speaking at workshops. "Visiting schools and libraries to present programs gives me a great opportunity to meet children and share my enthusiasm about books, creativity, and imagination."

Falwell made her picture-book debut in 1991 with Where's Nicky? and Nicky 1-2-3, a pair of early readers that offers "paper cutout/collage art in strong colors," according to a contributor in Publishers Weekly. A busy circus is the setting for Clowning Around, in which a playful clown performs amazing feats with the letters of the alphabet. Here Falwell's "vibrant cut-paper collages demonstrate great fluidity and help maintain the book's exciting pace," noted a Publishers Weekly critic.

In Feast for Ten, a counting book, the members of an African-American family pitch in to prepare a festive

meal of chicken, collard greens, and pumpkin pie. "The family-centered images throughout exude warmth," stated a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. Falwell's Christmas for Ten, a companion volume to Feast for Ten, looks at the family's holiday traditions, from trimming the tree to snuggling up with a good book. This work serves as "a cheerful way for children to learn to count," according to Booklist critic Ilene Cooper.

A young girl masters the power of language and helps a little boy find his way home in Falwell's award-winning Word Wizard. Discovering how to rearrange letters to form new words while eating a bowl of alphabet cereal, Anna uses her new knowledge to navigate a route to the boy's home. In addition to being "brightly colored and full of action," according to Carolyn Phelan in Booklist, Word Wizard contains "cut-paper collage illustrations" that make it "an eye-catching introduction to anagrams."

In David's Drawings, a shy student gains a host of new friends after he accepts their contributions to his work of art. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews observed that in this picture book, Falwell's "cut-paper and fabric collages are used to great effect." Cooper similarly praised the book's illustrations, stating that "their dimension brings alive the multiethnic classroom of smiling, engaging kids." A budding artist is also the focus of Butterflies for Kiri, a "story of frustration and determination," according to Cooper. After Kiri, a Japanese-American girl, accidentally tears a delicate sheet of tissue from her new origami set, she becomes discouraged and decides to pursue other artistic challenges. While working on a painting, Kiri finds a way to combine the watercolors with her origami. "Falwell's cut-and-torn-paper collages are the perfect medium for the story," Linda Ludke wrote in her School Library Journal review of the book.

In Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond, a group of timid Eastern painted turtles are frightened off their log, one by one, as they meet a succession of creatures that share their woodland habitat. "Working in collages of papers, birch bark and leaf prints, Falwell makes every aqua-hued spread come alive with texture, both visually and ecologically," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In Scoot!, a self-illustrated work with a story told in verse, six turtles remain undisturbed by the antics of their energetic neighbors, until a strong gust of wind startles them from their perch. Readers "will enjoy the rhyming, alliterative text and the accompanying vibrantly colored illustrations," Randall Enos predicted in Booklist.

"When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to write the words and make the pictures for children's books when I grew up," Falwell explained on her home page. "I had made my very first ‘book’ while a kindergartner—an illustrated introduction called Our School Helpers, which featured my teacher in a blue print dress and garish red lipstick. Along the way, I lived in six states, graduated from college, and worked as a teacher and a graphic designer." Now a full-time writer and illustrator, Falwell lives on Frog Song Pond in Gorham, Maine. "I have my very own tree house near the pond, where I can watch the turtles, frogs, ducks, deer and birds who live there," she added. "These critters have found their way into my books!"

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of The Letter Jesters, p. 606; April 15, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of Dragon Tooth, p. 1445; January 1, 1997, Julie Corsaro, review of New Moon, p. 870; February 15, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of P.J. and Puppy, p. 1026; September 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Hands!, p. 238; May 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Word Wizard, p. 1631; September 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Christmas for Ten, p. 132; March 15, 1999, Kathleen Squires, review of It's about Time!, p. 1344; August, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Turtle Splash! Countdown at the Pond, p. 2128; November 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of David's Drawings, p. 580; May 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Butterflies for Kiri, p. 1670; November 15, 2007, Kristen McKulski, review of Shape Capers, p. 51; January 1, 2008, Randall Enos, review of Scoot!, p. 96.

Horn Book, January-February, 1993, Mary M. Burns, review of Shape Space, p. 74; September-October, 1993, Gail Pettiford Willett, review of Feast for Ten, p. 584; November-December, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of The Letter Jesters, p. 744.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of David's Drawings, p. 1211; August 15, 2007, review of Shape Capers; January 1, 2008, review of Scoot!

Publishers Weekly, April 26, 1991, reviews of Where's Nicky and Nicky 1-2-3, p. 58; June 21, 1991, review of Clowning Around, p. 62; August 10, 1992, review of Shape Space, p. 69; May 10, 1993, review of Feast for Ten, p. 71; August 2, 1993, review of We Have a Baby, p. 77; July 9, 2001, review of Turtle Splash!, p. 67; August 13, 2001, review of David's Drawings, p. 311.

School Library Journal, September, 2001, Margaret Bush, review of Turtle Splash!, p. 188; October, 2001, Bina Williams, review of David's Drawings, p. 114; May, 2003, Linda Ludke, review of Butterflies for Kiri, p. 113; June, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Word Wizard, p. 56; January, 2008, Lee Bock, review of Scoot!, p. 86.

ONLINE

Cathryn Falwell Home Page,http://www.cathrynfalwell.com (December 15, 2008).

Cathryn Falwell Web log,http://cathrynfalwell.blogspot.com/ (December 15, 2008).