Born in Taipei, Taiwan; father an art teacher; married; husband a veterinarian. Education: Royal College of Art (London, England), degree (illustration), 1999. Hobbies and other interests: Animals.
Illustrator and author of children's books.
The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Good Dog, Paw!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Michael Rosen, Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
A native of Taiwan, Chinlun Lee grew up with a love of art. As a child she developed her skill, aided by an encouraging art-teacher father, and as an adult she has successfully made art her career. Leaving her country for several years to earn a degree in illustration from London's prestigious Royal College of Art, Lee now lives in southern Taiwan, where she both writes and illustrates books for children.
Dogs figure prominently in Lee's original self-illustrated picture books The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs and Good Dog, Paw.! To illustrate her first published book, The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, Lee had to portray dogs of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Fortunately, she did not have to stray far to find animals to sketch; her husband is a veterinarian and her studio is upstairs from his office. In the book, which is based on a true story, Lee introduces readers to a wealthy lady who devotes much of her time and money to feeding, brushing, petting, and playing with one hundred dogs. In addition to its own food bowl, each of the one hundred pets also has its own special name, its own place in the woman's heart, and its own special sleeping spot on the woman's bed! Calling Lee's brightly colored art a "doggy delight," Ilene Cooper added in Booklist that the final picture of sleeping dogs "is pure whimsy." A Publishers Weekly critic noted the "understatement" in Lee's affectionate story, and was even more enthusiastic about her "appealingly naive" art. Citing the illustrator's use of "flat, Egyptian-style perspective," the Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that Lee's "subtle use of color and texture" signal her "sophisticated" talent.
Good Dog, Paw! was actually inspired by Lee's own dog. In the book, a black-and-white cocker spaniel named Paw lives with a veterinarian named April, who gives the pup a ten-point check-up every morning. Every day, Paw joins April in her pet clinic, where he is both a companion and a helper. When sick animals enter the clinic and are frightened and feeling bad, for example, Paw sings to them, passing along encouragement as well as the health tips he has learned from his veterinarian companion. Noting that Lee's "lively" and "detailed" drawings feature "impressionistic pastel tints [that] extend the text's sunny tone," Horn Book contributor Anita L. Burkam praised the "warm relationship" between Paw and April. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer found the two characters to be "a perfect match," noting in particular that dog and owner "tend not only to their patients' health, but to their hearts as
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well." "Lee's simple, present-tense text allows Paw's self-confident voice to ring out," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic calling the pup a "cheerful" and "personable" character.
In addition to her own stories, Lee has also contributed her engaging pencil-and-watercolor illustrations to British author Michael Rosen's Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry. In this gentle story, a young girl named Molly brings a special gem to class for show and tell. Although the gem is at first overlooked in the busy classroom, Molly ultimately gains an affirmation of her own feelings when her teacher also finds something magical in the colored stone. Describing Lee's pencil and watercolor art as "engaging" and "somewhat idyllic," School Library Journal contributor Piper L. Nyman wrote that the illustrator effectively captures both the "emotions" of the young girl and the "fickle attention" of her young classmates. In Kirkus Reviews, a reviewer praised Lee for her "light touch, nice colors and [the] expressive faces" on her young characters.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, p. 1759; April 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Good Dog, Paw!, p. 1446; August 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry, p. 96.
Horn Book, May-June, 2004, Anita L. Burkam, review of Good Dog, Paw!, p. 317.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of Good Dog, Paw!, p. 272; August 15, 2006, review of Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry, p. p. 850.
New York Times Book Review, July 15, 2001, review of The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2001, review of The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, p. 86; April 26, 2004, review of Good Dog, Paw!, p. 64.
School Library Journal, July, 2001, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs, p. 84; August, 2004, Corrina Austin, review of Good Dog, Paw!, p. 89; September, 2006, Piper L. Nyman, review of Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry, p. 183.
Walker Books Web site,http://www.walkerbooks.co.uk/ (August 27, 2007), "Chinlun Lee."