Karas, G. Brian 1957–

views updated

Karas, G. Brian 1957–

(George Brian Karas)

Personal

Born 1957, in Milford, CT. Education: Attended Paier School of Art.

Addresses

Home—Rhinebeck, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Author and illustrator of children's books. Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, MO, card artist beginning c. 1979; freelance illustrator, beginning, c. 1982.

Awards, Honors

International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Choice designation, 1991, for The Holiday Handwriting School by Robyn Pulver; American Booksellers Pick of the Lists designation, 1993, for Odds 'n' Ends Alvy by John Frank, 1994, for Truman's Aunt Farm, by Jama Kim Rattigan, 1996, for Sleepless Beauty by Frances Minters, My Crayons Talk by Patricia Hubbard and Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley, and 1997, for Elevator Magic by Stuart J. Murphy; Parent's Choice Honor designation, 1995, for I Know an Old Lady; New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing designation and Capitol Choices designation, both 1996, both for Saving Sweetness; Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor designation, 1997, for Home on the Bayou; Smithsonian Notable Children's Book, 1999, and American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book designation, 2000, both for Raising Sweetness, by Stanley; ALA Notable Book designation, New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing designation, and Children's Literature Choice designation, all 2002, all for Car Wash by Sandra Steen and Susan Steen; New New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing designation, 2002, ALA Notable Book designation, 2003, and California Young Readers Medal, 2005, all for Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming; Book Links Lasting Connections title, 2002, and ALA Notable Book designation, 2003, both for Atlantic; ALA Notable Book designation, 2003, and 7 × 9 = Trouble! by Claudia Mills; Bay Area Book of the Year designation, 2003, and Capitol Choices selection, 2004, both for Oh, No, Gotta Go! by Sarah Middleton Elya; ALA Notable Book designation, 2005, for On Earth; New York Times Best Illustrated Book designation, 2005, for Are You Going to Be Good? by Cari Best.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

The Windy Day, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Bebe's Bad Dream, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2000.

The Class Artist, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Atlantic, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.

On Earth, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.

ILLUSTRATOR

Lori Miescke, Shaggy Dog Riddles, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1983.

Vicki Cobb, The Scoop on Ice Cream, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985.

Eileen Curran, Home for a Dinosaur, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1985.

Pat Whitehead, Arnold Plays Baseball, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1985.

Pat Whitehead, Here Comes Hungry Albert, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1985.

Meredith Sayles Hughes, The Great Potato Book, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1986.

Morgan Matthews, Squeaky Shoes, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1986.

Rita Schlachter, Good Luck, Bad Luck, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1986.

Eric H. Arnold and Jeffrey Loeb, editors, I'm Telling!: Kids Talk about Brothers and Sisters, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1987.

Jane Weston Wilson, Eating Well When You Just Can't Eat the Way You Used To, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1987.

Sharon Gordon, Playground Fun, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1988.

Janet Craig, Here Comes Winter, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1988.

Ann Squire, 101 Questions and Answers about Pets and People, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1988.

Melvin Berger, Simple Science Says—Take One Mirror, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1989.

Porter Gold, Who's There?, Raintree Publishers (Milwaukee, WI), 1989.

Melanie Martin, Madison Moves to the Country, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1989.

Melanie Martin, Morris, the Millionaire Mouse, Troll Associates (Mahwah, NJ), 1989.

Sue Alexander, Who Goes out on Halloween?, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, The Best Teacher in the World, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, Brenda's Private Swing, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, Merry Christmas, What's Your Name?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1990.

Kalli Dakos, If You're Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand: Poems about School, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Pamela Shrapnel, Freddie the Frightened and the Wondrous Ms. Wardrobe, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, Martin and the Tooth Fairy, Scholastic (new York, NY), 1991.

Robin Pulver, The Holiday Handwriting School, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Neal Starkman, The Forever Secret, Comprehensive Heath Education (Seattle, WA), 1991.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, The Snowball War, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, We Scream for Ice Cream, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1992.

Caron Lee Cohen, Pigeon, Pigeon, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.

Victoria Hartman, Westward Ho Ho Ho!: Jokes from the Wild West, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Jane O'Connor, Eek! Stories to Make You Shriek, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1992.

Robin Pulver, Nobody's Mother Is in Second Grade, Dial (New York, NY), 1992.

Rose Wyler and Mary Elting, Math Fun with a Pocket Calculator, Julian Messner (New York, NY), 1992.

Stuart Hample, compiler, Dear Mr. President, Workman Publishing (New York, NY), 1993.

Kalli Dakos, Don't Read This Book Whatever You Do!, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1993.

John Frank, Odds 'n' Ends Alvy, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Jonathan London, Into This Night We Are Rising, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Melvin Berger, Outdoor Science Adventures, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

Tony Johnston, Three Little Bikers, Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.

I Know an Old Lady, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.

Frances Minters, Cinder-Elly, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

Jama Kim Rattigan, Truman's Aunt Farm, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.

Harriet Zeifert, We Dare You!, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, The Best Teacher in the World, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

Bernice Chardiet and Grace Maccarone, Martin and the Teacher's Pets, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

Sharon Phillips Denslow, On the Trail with Miss Pace, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.

Robyn Harbert, The Flute Player—La flautista, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Jonathan London, Like Butter on Pancakes, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Harriet Ziefert, Scare the Moon, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.

Janice Boland, A Dog Named Sam, Dial (New York, NY), 1996.

Nola Buck, Sid and Sam, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Jan Carr, The Nature of the Beast, Tamburine Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Jane Cutler, Mr. Carey's Garden, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.

Patricia Hubbard, My Crayons Talk, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

Pamela Jane, No Way, Winky Blue!, Mondo (Greenvale, NY), 1996.

Amy MacDonald, The Spider Who Created the World, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Frances Minters, Sleepless Beauty, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

Stuart J. Murphy, Give Me Half!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Diane Stanley, Saving Sweetness, Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 1996.

Barbara Bottner, Bootsie Barker Ballerina, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Jonathan London, Puddles, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

Stuart J. Murphy, Elevator Magic, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Selby B. Beeler, Throw Your Tooth on the Roof, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.

Yanitzia Canetti, reteller, Carlita Ropes the Twister, Steck-Vaughn (Austin, TX), 1998.

Nancy Price Graff, In the Hush of the Evening, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Christine McDonnell, It's a Deal, Dogboy, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Linda R. Rymill, Good Knight, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Margaret Wise Brown, I Like Bugs, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Kirsten Hall, Princess Daisy Finds a Friend, Chronicle Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Megan McDonald, The Bone Keeper, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1999.

Diane Stanley, Raising Sweetness, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.

Alma Flor Ada, Daniel's Mystery Egg, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Rosanne Cash, Penelope Jane: A Fairy's Tale, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Lenny Hort, The Seals on the Bus, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2000.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Climbing Cat, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2000.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Missing Monkey, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2000.

Erica Silverman, Follow the Leader, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2000.

Christine McDonnell, Toad Food and Measle Soup, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Stuart J. Murphy, Missing Mittens, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Troublesome Turtle, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2001.

Sandra Steen and Susan Steen, Car Wash, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.

Skidamarink: A Silly Love Song to Sing Together, Harper-Festival (New York, NY), 2002.

Alma Flor Ada, Daniel's Pet, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Kathi Appelt, Incredible Me!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Candace Fleming, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2002.

Claudia Mills, 7 × 9= Trouble!, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.

Frances Minters, Princess Fishtail, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Puzzling Possum, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2002.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Sleepy Sloth, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2002.

Margaret Wise Brown, I Like Bugs, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Kalli Dakos, Put Your Eyes up Here, and Other School Poems, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.

Philip Yates, Ten Little Mummies: An Egyptian Counting Book, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Susan Middleton Elya, Oh, No, Gotta Go!, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Fidgety Fox, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2003.

Milton Schafer, That Crazy Barb'ra, Dial (New York, NY), 2003.

Paula Danziger, Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Jessica Harper, I Like Where I Am, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.

Anna Michaels, Best Friends, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Baffled Bear, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2004.

Harriet Ziefert, Scare the Moon, Sterling Publisher (New York, NY), 2004.

Cari Best, Are You Going to Be Good?, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.

Deborah J. Eaton, My Wild Wooly, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.

Megan McDonald, Ant and Honey Bee: What a Pair!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Cynthia Rylant, The High-Rise Private Eyes: The Case of the Desperate Duck, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2005.

Arlene Williams, Tiny Tortilla, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

Susan Middleton Elya, F Is for Fiesta, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.

Jessica Harper, A Place Called Kindergarten, Putnam (New York, NY), 2006.

Charlotte Zolotow, If It Weren't for You, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.

Candace Fleming, Tippy-Tippy-Tippy-Hide!, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2007.

Kobayashi Issa, Today and Today, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.

Margaret McNamara, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, Schwartz & Wade (New York, NY), 2007.

Franny Billingsley, Big Bad Bunny, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2008.

Sidelights

G. Brian Karas has channeled his early interest in art into a successful career as an award-winning illustrator and author of children's books. His humor shines through in varying degrees in his sketchy pencil, gouache, and pastel images, and has become one of his chief hallmarks, appearing in books that range from Paula Danziger's humorous picture book Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First and Kobayashi Issa's nostalgic Today and Today to Philip Yates' Ten Little Mummies: An Egyptian Counting Book and Karas's own nonfiction work On Earth. Karas's sense of fun is perhaps best seen in his illustrated version of a nonsense song published as Skidamarink: A Silly Love Song to Sing Together. Praising the book's high-energy illustrations, which depict a polar bear and penguin skating through the song's silly lyrics, a Kirkus Reviews writer dubbed it an "engaging piece of tomfoolery" that is sure to "be a fidgety reader's delight." Noting Karas's whimsical text and the hands-on fun provided by his inclusion of lift-the-flap opportunities, a Publishers Weekly critic described Skidamarink as "a clever cross between a greeting card and a novelty book." The critic also adding a prediction: that the artist's "silly, snowy book will warm hearts both large and small."

Raised in Connecticut, Karas enjoyed drawing as a child, and his book The Class Artist recalls his growing confidence in his somewhat wobbly "first steps" as an

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

elementary-school-aged Rembrandt. After graduating from high school, he decided to make a career in art. "I knew from the first day of art school that there was no other choice for me," he recalled of his first day at Hamden, Connecticut's Paier School of Art in an essay posted on the Penguin Web site. Graduating from Paier with highest honors, Karas then found a job as a greeting-card artist at Hallmark Cards.

Three years came a move to New York City and the start of his career as a freelance commercial illustrator. Karas made the rounds of the city's publishing companies, and soon won his first book contract, creating art for Lori Miescke's Shaggy Dog Riddles. Released in 1983, Shaggy Dog Riddles was the first of dozens of children's-book projects for Karas, projects that have given him the opportunity to work with writers such as Harriet Ziefert, Jan Carr, Claudia Mills, Cynthia Rylant, and Melvin Berger, among others. Praising his artistic contribution to Kalli Dakos's Put Your Eyes up Here, and Other School Poems, Booklist reviewer Kay Weisman noted that "Karas's black-line cartoon drawings add a goofiness to the text that children will appreciate," while the "warm cartoon illustrations" he contributes to Paula Danziger's Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First "provide fun punch lines to many of the jokes," in the opinion of School Library Journal critic Julie Roach. Courtesy of Karas, Susan Middleton Elya's F Is for Fiesta is "buoyantly illustrated," wrote Booklist critic Jennifer Mattson, and School Library Journal reviewer Martha Topol described his "folksy artwork" for Candace Fleming's Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide! as "full of changing perspectives and charming detail, … captur[ing] … all of the action with warmth and humor."

In addition to his numerous illustration projects, Karas has also taken several turns as author. His first original self-illustrated picture book, Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised for hitting the "bull's-eye" by capturing "the uncertainty children feel when transplanted to unfamiliar territory," earned him the first of many awards in the field: a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book distinction, in 1997. Other original books by Karas include The Windy Day, Bebe's Bad Dream, The Class Artist, Atlantic, and On Earth.

"Lights out!" is the signal for a space-alien invasion in the humorous Bebe's Bad Dream, as a young girl tries to redirect some green-skinned dreamtime visitors across the hall to the room of her annoying older brother. Bebe's bedtime ritual involves donning homemade armor as well as turning down the sheets, and her pragmatic and self-reliant approach to her nighttime problem is brought to life by Karas in "childlike art that captures the full range of emotion," according to a Horn Book critic. Praising the book as a bedtime tale with a "twist," Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper wrote that Bebe's Bad Dream features "witty dialogue, clever asides, and artwork that … goes for the laughs."

Called "a unique presentation of the story of the Atlantic Ocean" by a Kirkus Reviews writer, Atlantic draws on Karas's familiarity with the ocean that borders the east coast of the United States. Narrated by the vast ocean in what Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan dubbed a "pithy text," Karas describes the Atlantic Ocean's ability to generate weather and the many creatures living beneath its mercurial surface, as well as the fact that its reach—its waters span four continents—has made it the means for exploration and transportation throughout human history. The "skewed perspectives and textured layers of color keep the paintings varied and interesting," noted a Publishers Weekly writer, the critic adding that the author's "folksy humor" and artwork featuring "wistful, cartoon-like children" help sustain the interest of young readers. In School Library Journal Margaret Bush wrote of Atlantic that "Karas's crafty combination of wit and naïvete offers viewers intriguing and amusing marine perspectives" on the book's vast subject. Also dealing with nature, On Earth, "tackles another grand science concept," according to Horn Book reviewer Betty Carter. The author/illustrator's introduction to gravity, time measurement, growth cycles, geography, and other Earth-related systems is enhanced by artwork that provides "concrete images" of scientific concepts, according to Carter, while a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that Karas's "illustrations have texture and charm, but also whimsy and a light, supple touch." In Phelan's view, the "ambitious" On Earth "might be a good place to start small children thinking big."

"I love what I do and feel so lucky to be able to do it," Karas noted in an interview posted on his home page. "I'm able to draw and paint pictures that can make me laugh, that frighten or intrigue me. I can make up stories that help me understand why people do what they do, or take me far from everything that I want to get away from. To be able to share that with someone else, especially a child, is so gratifying to me. If I can open a door for someone else it makes me feel good."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Sid and Sam, p. 1910; September 15, 1996, Lauren Peterson, review of Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy's Story, p. 247; June 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Bebe's Bad Dream, p. 1909; November 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of The Class Artist, p. 582; April 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Atlantic, p. 1398; August, 2003, Kay Wessman, review of Put Your Eyes up Here, and Other School Poems, p. 1992; September 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First, p. 130; May 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of On Earth, p. 1588; July, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Tiny Tortilla, p. 1931; January 1, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of If It Weren't for You, p. 118.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2000, review of Bebe's Bad Dream, p. 361; September, 2001, review of The Class Artist, p. 22; April, 2002, review of Atlantic, p. 283; July-August, 2005, review of On Earth, p. 493.

Horn Book, May-June, 1996, Marilyn Bousquin, review of Mr. Carey's Garden, p. 322; July-August, 1996, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of The Nature of the Beast, p. 445; March-April, 1998, Susan P. Bloom, review of The Windy Day, p. 214; July, 2000, review of Bebe's Bad Dream, p. 436; September-October, 2005, Betty Carter, review of On Earth, p. 602.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2001, review of Skidamarink: A Silly Love Song to Sing Together, p. 1551; March 15, 2002, review of Atlantic, p. 414; July 14, 2004, review of Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First, p. 683; May 15, 2005, review of On Earth, p. 591; January 1, 2006, review of F Is for Fiesta, p. 39.

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1996, review of Home on the Bayou, p. 97; May 11, 1998, review of The Windy Day, p. 67; May 15, 2000, review of Bebe's Bad Dream, p. 117; July 23, 2001, review of The Class Artist, p. 76; December 3, 2001, review of Skidamarink, p. 59; January 28, 2002, review of Atlantic, p. 290; August 23, 2004, review of Barfburger, Baby, I Was Here First, p. 53; June 12, 2006, review of A Place Called Kindergarten, p. 51; December 18, 2006, review of Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide!, p. 62; February 5, 2007, review of Today and Today, p. 57.

School Library Journal, June, 1998, Nina Lindsay, review of The Windy Day, p. 111; June, 2000, Tana Elias, review of Bebe's Bad Dream, p. 116; September, 2001, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of The Class Artist, p. 192; January, 2002, Shara Alpern, review of Skidamarink, p. 124; June, 2002, Margaret Bush, review of Atlantic, p. 98; November, 2004, Julie Roach, review of Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First, p. 96; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Oh No, Gotta Go!, p. 44; August, 2005, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Tiny Tortilla, p. 108; May, 2006, Lauralyn Persson, review of On Earth, p. 110; August, 2006, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of A Place Called Kindergarten, p. 88; January, 2007, Martha Topol, review of Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide!, p. 92.

ONLINE

G. Brian Karas Home Page,http://www.gbriankaras.com (April 17, 2007).

Penguin Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (April 20, 2007), "G. Brian Karas."