Gravett, Emily 1972(?)-
Gravett, Emily 1972(?)-
Born c. 1972, in Brighton, England; partner's name Mik; children: Oleander (daughter). Education: Brighton University, B.F.A. (illustration), 2001.
Author and illustrator.
Kate Greenaway Medal, and Nestlé Award Bronze Medal, both 2006, and Macmillan Illustrator's Prize, all for Wolves.
Wolves, Macmillan (London, England), 2005, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.
Orange Pear Apple Bear, Macmillan (London, England), 2006, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Meerkat Mail, Macmillan (London, England), 2006, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.
Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, Macmillan (London, England), 2007.
Monkey and Me, Macmillan (London, England), 2008.
British artist Emily Gravett became a book illustrator and author while raising her young daughter, and her first two books were actually adaptations of projects she had completed during college. Heralded by School Library Journal contributor Kirsten Cutler as an "imaginative, cleverly designed story" that is paired with "eloquent multimedia illustrations," Wolves stands both as Gravett's award-winning debut and the cornerstone of a career that has become known for innovation.
Featuring two different endings, Wolves follows Rabbit as he visits the local library to find a book about wolves. While walking back home with his nose in his book, long-eared Rabbit finds more between the covers than he bargained for when a bushy wolf tail and sharp wolf claws start to poke out from the pages. Soon a big, bad wolf makes its appearance, brought to life in charcoal drawings that artfully reflect the creature's scruffy wildness. In his review for Booklist, Michael Cart commented on the sophistication of Gravett's picture book, dubbing Wolves a "postmodern picture book" and a "sly celebration of libraries and reading." A Kirkus Reviews contributor expressed the consensus among several critics, proclaiming the book to be "brilliant fun," while in the New York Times Book Review J.D. Biersdorfer commended the author/illustrator's innovative approach: using "an eye-catching collage of hand-drawn sketches and photography" to create "a modern trompe l'oeil effect—complete with 3-D shadows and playful shifts in scale and perspective," according to the critic.
Also based on a project completed during Gravett's college studies, Orange Pear Apple Bear restricts its text to five words (including the four on the book's cover). Each page of the work features a different combination of these nouns, some of which double as adjectives in the accompanying illustrations. Gravett's illustrations for Orange Pear Apple Bear "have a fresh spontaneity yet reflect careful deliberation," observed Horn Book writer Nell Beram, and in School Library Journal Maryann H. Owen concluded that Gravett's "softly hued watercolor illustrations loosely outlined in black pen and ink are delightful." A "deliciously playful romp" that stars a large, "genial bear" in its spare watercolor illustrations, the book unfolds as "a masterpiece of superbly controlled pacing," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer.
In Meerkat Mail Gravett serves up another unique picture book. Here readers meet Sunny, an adventure-seeking meerkat, as the young mongoose decides to leave his home as part of a large, busy family living in the Kalahari Desert and visit several enclaves of cousins. As readers learn through Sunny's postcards and letters home, the hospitality of the Marsh Mongoose is overshadowed by its damp abode, and the Malagasy Mongoose is far too much of a night owl to become Sunny's long-term friend. Ultimately, Sunny's overly hot and overcrowded home begins to seem very attractive. "Along with humor and suspense, [Gravett] … folds snippets of natural history into the tale," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, and in Publishers Weekly a critic noted that Meerkat Mail effectively "conveys not just how a landscape looks, but also how its lighting and climate feels to a very small mammal."
Other picture books written and illustrated by Gravett include Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears and Monkey and Me, the latter a story of an imaginative little girl and her beloved toy monkey. A fearful young rodent is the star of Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, which finds the bewhiskered creature determined to deal with a number of phobias by expressing his feelings in drawing and writing. An interactive book featuring liftable flaps, die-cut holes, and fold outs, Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears is an "ingenious worrier's guide to phobias," according to London Sunday Times contributor Nicolette Jones.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 1, 2006, Michael Cart, review of Wolves, p. 52; June 1, 2007, Julie Cummins, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear, p. 84.
Bookseller, October 7, 2005, "Nestlé Shortlist Revealed," p. 10; April 7, 2006, Katie Hawthorne, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear, p. 13.
Guardian (London, England), May 19, 2007, Julia Eccleshare, review of Monkey and Me, p. 20.
Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), February 3, 2007, Sara Valentin, "It Turns Out Words Can Be Fun Too," p. 13.
Horn Book, July-August, 2007, Nell Beram, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear, p. 377.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2006, review of Wolves, p. 678; April 15, 2007, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear; September 1, 2007, review of Meerkat Mail.
New York Times Book Review, September 10, 2006, J.D. Biersdorfer, review of Wolves, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2007, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear, p. 62; September 17, 2007, review of Meerkat Mail, p. 53.
School Library Journal, August, 2006, Kirsten Cutler, review of Wolves, p. 87; August, 2006, Rick Margolis, "Like a Rolling Stone: English Artist Emily Gravett Talks about Life on the Road and Her First Book," p. 31; April, 2007, Maryann H. Owen, review of Orange Pear Apple Bear, p. 106.
Sunday Times (London, England), August 5, 2007, Nicolette Jones, review of Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, p. 47.
Emily Gravett Home Page,http://www.emilygravett.com (May 19, 2008).