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Fitzpatrick, Marie–Louise 1962-

Fitzpatrick, Marie–Louise 1962-

Personal

Born March 2, 1962, in Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland; daughter of Bernard (an engineer) and Deborah (a secretary and homemaker) Fitzpatrick. Education: College of Marketing and Design, Dublin, Ireland, diploma, 1983. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, culture, literature, film, history, photography, gardening.

Addresses

Home—Dublin, Ireland. Office—The Mill Studios, 32 North Brunswick St., Dublin 7, Ireland. Agent—Eunice McMullen Children's Literary Agent, Ltd., Low Ibbotsholme Cottage, Off Bridge La., Troutbeck Bridge, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 1HU, England. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Freelance writer and illustrator for children. Part-time art teacher; McPartlin Design, graphic assistant trainee, 1983-84. Speaker at workshops at museums, schools, and colleges.

Member

Green Partridge Club.

Awards, Honors

Book of the Year, Consumer Choice, 1988, Children's Book Award, Reading Association of Ireland, and Design Medal from Irish Book Awards, both 1989, and Bisto Book of the Decade Award, Irish language category, 1990, all for An Chanáil; Bisto Book of the Year Award, picture book category, 1992, for The Sleeping Giant; special merit award, Reading Association of Ireland, Bisto Merit Award, and nomination to Honours List, International Board on Books for Young People, all 1999, all for The Long March; Bisto Merit Award shortlist, 2001, for Lizzy and Skunk.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

An Chanáil (title means "The Canal"), translated into Irish by Bernadine Nic Ghiolla Phádraig, An Gúm (Dublin, Ireland), 1988.

The Sleeping Giant, Brandon (Dingle, Ireland), 1991.

The Long March: The Choctaw's Gift to the Irish Famine Relief, edited by Gary WhiteDeer, Beyond Words, 1998.

Izzy and Skunk, David & Charles (London, England), 1999, published as Lizzy and Skunk, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2000.

I'm a Tiger, Too!, Gullane (London, England), 2001, Roaring Brook (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea, Roaring Book Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

I Am I, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2006.

Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy, Frances Lincoln (New York, NY), 2006, published as Silly Mummy, Silly Daddy, Frances Lincoln (London, England), 2006.

Silly School, Frances Lincoln (New York, NY), 2007.

ILLUSTRATOR

Margrit Cruickshank, Anna's Six Wishes, Poolbeg (Dublin, Ireland), 1995.

Aislinn O'Loughlin, Cinderella's Fella, Wolfhound (Dublin, Ireland), 1995.

Aislinn O'Loughlin, A Right Royal Pain Rumpelstiltskin—The True Story, Wolfhound (Dublin, Ireland), 1996.

Aislinn O'Loughlin, The Emperor's Birthday Suit, Wolfhound (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.

Aislinn O'Loughlin, Shak and the Beanstalk, Wolfhound (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.

Peadar O Laoghaire, Séanna, Cois Life Teoranta (Dublin, Ireland), 1998.

Robert Dunbar and Gabriel Fitzmaurice, editors, Rusty Nails and Astronauts: A Wolfhound Poetry Anthology, Wolfhound (Dublin, Ireland), 1999.

Pamela Duncan Edwards, Dear Tooth Fairy, Katherine Tegen Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Angela McAllister, Jasmine's Lion, Corgi (London, England), 2005.

Sidelights

Irish writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick has been honored by several awards for her picture books, which include The Long March: The Choctaw's Gift to the Irish Famine Relief, Lizzy and Skunk, I Am I, and Silly School. Working in diverse media that includes pencil, watercolor, and acrylic paints, Fitzpatrick is known for focusing on topics that resonate with young readers, particularly through her art.

Reviewers found Fitzpatrick's self-illustrated The Long March particularly affecting. Set in Oklahoma during the mid-1800s, the story draws on the little-known fact that the impoverished Choctaw nation sent money to help relieve the Irish people who were then starving as the result of the great potato famine. In Fitzpatrick's tale, a young Choctaw wonders why his people should help Europeans when, not so long before, the Europeans stole Choctaw lands and made the tribe walk the Trail of Tears. The boy's great-grandmother remembers the Long March and proclaims that the Choctaw should help those in need even as they could not help themselves in their own hour of need. "This deeply moving work quietly and effectively underscores the drama and pathos of a little-known historical episode," remarked a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. "Fitzpatrick's strong, detailed pencil illustrations are as direct and beautiful as the words," stated Hazel Rochman in a Booklist review. Calling The Long March a "sophisticated picture book," School Library Journal reviewer Darcy Schild concluded that Fitzpatrick's "words and illustrations work together extremely well, presenting the story in a clear and compelling manner."

Fitzpatrick turns to acrylics in illustrating her book I Am I, in which two young boys wage a war against each other from neighboring hills. As angry words are shouted, they tangle into a barbed wire wall positioned between the two belligerent children. Soon the wire roils into a dragon whose firey breath singes the hill of both boys. Ultimately, each boy announces the title refrain, no longer needing to conquer another to be secure in himself. "An artistically accomplished book," according to School Library Journal contributor Lauralyn Persson, I Am I marked a change of pace for the author/illustrator due to its theme of "competition and the capacity of words to wound and heal." "Fitzpatrick has

created a sophisticated work offering multiple perspectives and opportunity for discussion," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic also citing the author's "exquisite full-page vividly colored paintings."

In Lizzy and Skunk, You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea, and I'm a Tiger, Too! Fitzpatrick combines appealing watercolor images with a spare, minimalist text that brings readers into a child's world. Lizzy and Skunk focuses on a little girl whose puppet helps her deal with her fears. With Skunk in hand, Lizzy can brave skating down the sidewalk and performing in the school play, but when Skunk gets lost, Lizzy must visit such frightening places as the space underneath her bed (where it's dark) and the attic (where there are spiders) in her search for her beloved companion. A Publishers Weekly critic described Lizzy and Skunk as "a reassuring story with an upbeat message about overcoming fears," while School Library Journal reviewer Sue Sherif deemed the book "a cozy, well-executed choice for sharing with a special friend."

Called a "smooth blend of text and art" by Booklist critic Hazel Rochman, You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea takes readers back to the 1800s as a mother and son recall their journey across the ocean to a new home. Fitzpatrick's "repetitive, engaging text has a musical quality and lovely rhythm," noted Leslie Barban in School Library Journal, while the book's "illustrations work in tandem with the text and are notable in their attention to detail," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer. As they recall their journey, mother and son are enriched by the way the other recalls the trip, their story brought to life in illustrations that are "expertly executed, rich with color, and full of surprises," according to Rochman.

Pairing a spare text with colorful watercolor art, I'm a Tiger, Too! mixes fantasy and reality in a vividly pictured tale about a lonely boy who attempts to engage a series of animals in imaginative play, with no success. Ultimately, a second boy moves into the vacant house next door, and his imagination is equally vivid. In School Library Journal, Rosalyn Pierini dubbed I'm a Tiger, Too! a "charming story about the power of imagination and friendship" that features "lovely bright watercolors" with storyhour appeal. "Fitzpatrick's lovely, splashy watercolors add volumes of meaning to a simple text," concluded Booklist critic Kathy Broderick, while in Kirkus Reviews a critic wrote that I'm a Tiger, Too! conveys "a perfect sense of pretend" through its animated illustrations in which "energy and imagination reign." Through "luminous watercolors and just one to two sentences per page," Fitzpatrick presents readers with "a thoughtful take on imagination, friendship and backyard adventure," noted a Publishers Weekly critic.

Fitzpatrick indulges readers in a large helping of silliness in her books Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy and Silly School. Featuring a little girl names Beth, Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy finds the youngster a bit grouchy, and nobody in her extended family is able to put a smile on

Beth's face. Finally, her sister is able to coax the smile that breaks Beth's bad mood, and "nudge [readers] … into giggles" as well, according to Wanda Meyers-Hines in School Library Journal. Noting Fitzpatrick's "interesting uses of perspective" in her ink and gouache artwork, a Kirkus Reviews critic called Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy a "simple but effective story [that] is sure to perk up sulky children and perhaps give parents a new coping skill." Beth returns to face the first day of school with trepidation in Silly School, a story told with "a wry tenderness that never loses its gentle undercurrent of compassionate understanding," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor.

Fitzpatrick once told SATA: "I was four when I decided I wanted to be an artist. Much to my mother's horror, I never grew out of the idea! My father worked in a paper mill, and I always had plentiful supplies of rough paper to draw on. Just as well, as I could go through a dozen sheets a day.

"After art college, I did some part-time teaching and a lot of illustration work for school books while trying to break into publishing as an author. After my first two books were published, I hit a shaky patch. Over twelve months during 1997-1998, not one, but three publishers collapsed or ran into business problems, and I held on to dear life wondering if it was time to consider a change of career. I found an agent who got me back on track, and ideas which have been around for a while are finally getting to see the light of day."

Regarding her inspiration for the stories she writes, Fitzpatrick once said, "Something simple may inspire an idea. I always recognize the spark but usually have to wait a long time while it grows in my mind and finally becomes clear enough for me to work with. I work the books up layer by layer, story and pictures together, until they seem right."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of The Long March: The Choctaw's Gift to the Irish Famine Relief, p. 1875; May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Lizzy and Skunk, p. 1677; April 15, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of I'm a Tiger, Too!, p. 1408; December 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea, p. 673.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of I'm a Tiger, Too!, p. 410; September 15, 2002, review of You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea, p. 1389; October 1, 2003, review of Dear Tooth Fairy, p. 1223; May 1, 2006, review of I Am I, p. 457; July 15, 2006, review of Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy, p. 722; September 15, 2007, review of Silly School.

Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1998, review of The Long March, p. 48; May 1, 2000, review of Lizzy and Skunk, p. 69; April 1, 2002, review of I'm a Tiger, Too!, p. 82; October 13, 2003, review of Dear Tooth Fairy, p. 77.

School Library Journal, June, 1998, Darcy Schild, review of The Long March, p. 98; July, 2000, Sue Sherif, review of Lizzy and Skunk, p. 72; June, 2002, Rosalyn Pierini, review of I'm a Tiger, Too!, p. 94; November, 2002, Leslie Barban, review of You, Me, and the Big Blue Sea, p. 123; January, 2004, Sandra Kitain, review of Dear Tooth Fairy, p. 97; June, 2006, Lauralyn Persson, review of I Am I, p. 111; September, 2006, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Silly Mommy, Silly Daddy, p. 171.

ONLINE

Eunice McMullen Literary Agent Web site,http://www.eunicemcmullen.co.uk/ (May 5, 2008), "Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick."

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