Surname pronounced "Hough-sta"; born September 21, in WI; daughter of an artist father and an educator mother; married; children: two sons. Education: University of Missouri-Columbia, B.A. (creative writing); Cleveland State University, secondary teaching certification.
Office—Brown Dog Books, P.O. Box 2196, Flemington, NJ 08822. E-mail—[email protected]
Author, illustrator, and collage artist. Exhibitions: Works exhibited at art shows in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Teacher and Writers Collaborative, Independent Book Publishers Association.
Teachers' Choice Award for the Family, Learning magazine, and Borders Original Voices Award nominee, both 2004, both for I Love the Night; Teachers' Choice Award, and Benjamin Franklin Award for Picture Books, both 2005, both for I Love the Alphabet; Teachers' Choice Award, National Arbor Day Foundation Media Award, and American Horticultural Society Growing Good Kids Book Award, all 2007, all for If I Were a Tree.
I Love the Night, Brown Dog Books (Flemington, NJ) 2003.
I Love the Alphabet, Brown Dog Books (Flemington, NJ), 2004.
Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes, Brown Dog Books (Flemington, NJ), 2006.
If I Were a Tree, Brown Dog Books (Flemington, NJ), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including NJ SCBWI magazine.
Each of Dar Hosta's books is the result of many hours' work, from writing the story and creating the colorful collage art to publishing, promoting, and distributing the book. In creating her award-winning art, Hosta uses textured Japanese paper to create her collage shapes, and heavy watercolor paper as her background. Both papers are painted using vibrant and opaque acrylic paints, and the cut shapes are arranged on the watercolor paper and fastened using a dry-glue method. Hosta then details her collages with a variety of media, such as ink, oil pastel, and colored pencil. The most detailed collages, as well as her larger works of non-picture-book art, can take up to one hundred hours to complete.
"Collage artists like me are often called Mixed Media Artists because we do more than just glue pieces of paper and we use lots of different art supplies to make our art," Hosta explained on her home page. "Most of my book illustrations are done during the winter months when I am not tempted to putter around outside or when I am not playing around at the pool with my kids or on vacation! Winter is a great time to stay busy and cozy in a studio."
I Love the Night, Hosta's first original picture book, was designed as a bedtime story and features a gentle, rhyming text that describes the life of nocturnal animals. In contrast, I Love the Alphabet weaves an energetic sweep of letters from A to Z within a panorama of vivid collage images. "As fun as the rhymes are, Hosta's dynamic collage creations steal the show," noted Booklist critic Lauren Peterson in her review of I Love the Alphabet, while in Publishers Weekly a critic cited the author/illustrator for featuring "powerful visual" in her picture-book debut.
Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes is an imaginative rhyming tale about a cat named Mavis Sugar who bakes a monthly mooncake, one slice per night, for fourteen days until it is finished and then eaten, one slice every night. But there is more than mere fantasy in Hosta's story about a moon made of cake. As Mavis's baking continues, readers learn about the nine phases of the moon, gaining an astronomy lesson in the process. "With beautiful use of color and texture, Hosta creates a cast of appealing animals and [an] atmospheric moonlit" setting in her tale, observed School Library Journal critic Amy Lilien-Harper. The story gains a "folksy, quilt-like feel" due to the author/illustrator's use of dark, saturated backgrounds and bright images, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic adding that Hosta's "pictures … pop off the pages." "Filled with stars and touched by moonlight," Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes "charms more with each turn of the page," concluded Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper.
Hosta honors one of her favorite plants in her award-winning picture book If I Were a Tree. Long and narrow like the plant it describes, the book combines Hosta's rhyming text and vibrant collage art to follow each season in the life of various species of trees, and closes with a fact page giving further botanical information. Noting that the book "conveys both an environmental awareness and bits of natural science," a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed If I Were a Tree "an effective consciousness-raiser" as well as a "pleasant" storyhour treat.
I am a bit of an accidental children's book creator," Hosta told SATA. "My journey began in language arts education in the public schools and, after the birth of my children, my longtime artistic hobbies evolved into freelance design and art work. With a background in creative writing, it was a small leap into my first, and experimental title, I Love the Night, after which I was hooked. I still spend a lot of time in schools and with kids, so I feel real lucky to be able to combine all the things I love to do into one job: teaching, writing, and art."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 1, 2004, Lauren Peterson, review of I Love the Alphabet, p. 132; November 5, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes, p. 53.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2006, review of Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes, p. 1175; May 1, 2007, review of If I Were a Tree.
Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2003, review of I Love the Night, p. 66.
School Library Journal, January, 2007, Amy Lilien-Harper, review of Mavis and Her Marvelous Mooncakes, p. 98.
Brown Dog Books Web site,http://www.browndogbooks.com/ (August 10, 2008), "Dar Hosta."
Dar Hosta Home Page,http://www.darhosta.com (August 4, 2008).