Lies, Brian 1963–

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Lies, Brian 1963–

Personal

Born 1963, in Princeton, NJ; children: one daughter. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1985; studied drawing and painting at School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA). Hobbies and other interests: Building things, bicycling, gardening, reading.

Addresses

Home and office—Duxbury, MA. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Author and illustrator. Editorial illustrator, beginning 1987; illustrator of children's books, beginning 1989.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Graphic Artist's Guild.

Awards, Honors

Society of Publication Designers Merit Award, 1987, 1988; Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Magazine Merit Award for Illustration, 1998.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.

Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle, Moon Mountain Publisher (North Kingstown, RI), 2001.

Bats at the Beach, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

Bats at the Library, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1990.

Dianne Snyder, George and the Dragon Word, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Nosy Otter, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1992.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1992.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Whoooo, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1993.

Betty Bonham Lies, The Poet's Pen, Teacher Ideas Press, 1993.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Bashful Beaver, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Schoolhouse, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Eth Clifford, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Bruce Glassman, The Midnight Fridge, Blackbirch Press (Woodbridge, CT), 1998.

Kay Winters, Where Are the Bears?, Bantam Doubleday Dell (New York, NY), 1998.

Charles Ghigna, See the Yak Yak, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.

Elaine Landau, Popcorn, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2003.

Irene Livingston, Finklehopper Frog, Tricycle Press (Berkeley, CA), 2003.

Lynda Graham-Barber, Spy Hops and Belly Flops: Curious Behaviors of Woodland Animals, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Ellen Weiss, Lucky Duck, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2004.

Irene Livingston, Finklehopper Frog Cheers, Tricycle Press (Berkeley, CA), 2005.

Donna M. Bateman, Deep in the Swamp, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2007.

Contributor of illustrations to children's magazines, including Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug, and to adult publications, including Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant, Christian Science Monitor, Harvard Magazine, Princeton Alumni Weekly, Brown Alumni Monthly, PC Week, Boston Business, Lotus, New England Business, Technology Review, Washingtonian, and Mutual Funds.

Sidelights

Beginning in 1989, editorial illustrator Brian Lies branched out from his focus on politics and turned to something with even more humor: illustrating children's books. In addition to creating detailed and engaging artwork for stories by Ellen Weiss, Irene Livingston, Eth Clifford, and others, Lies has also written and illustrated several original picture books, including the adventures of a pig named Hamlet that are featured in Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite and Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, when it was still relatively rural, Lies spent many childhood hours making forts and building dams with his best friend in the nearby woods. He also liked to read, invent things, and write and illustrate stories with his older sister. As he explained on his home page, "My favorite book when I was very young was Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever. When I was a little older I loved Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Jean Craighead George's My Side of the Mountain."

A school visit by author-illustrator Harry Devlin during Lies' fifth-grade year was inspirational. "I was amazed at the idea that this [creating books] was actually a job," he recalled on his home page. "I wished it could be my job. But I didn't think I was good enough at either writing or drawing to even try." Despite this, Lies started drawing for the fun of it, and in high school he learned to paint with oils and make stained glass windows. Lies took a detour from art during his college years, studying psychology and British and American literature at Brown University. Afterward he moved to Boston and studied art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. "At the Museum School, I started getting paintings in exhibitions and won a few prizes, including the prestigious Dana Pond Painting Award," Lies explained. Soon, his award-winning political illustrations were appearing in the pages of newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe.

After two years of periodical work, Lies ventured into children's-book illustration by collaborating with Clifford on the author's popular early-reader series about a furry sleuth named Flatfoot Fox. From the beginning, reviewers praised Lies's black-and-white drawings for their humor. Appraising Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, a Booklist critic remarked that the book's "expressive black-line drawings perfectly complement Clifford's dry wit," and in School Library Journal a critic stated that "Lies's entertaining … drawings add to the fun." In her review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Whoooo, Booklist reviewer Emily Melton called Lies's illustrations "comical and charming," and Stephanie Zvirin, also writing in Booklist, noted that they "capture the dry comedy" in Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Bashful Beaver. Writing for School Library Journal about Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Schoolhouse, Lauren Peterson concluded, "Clifford and Lies get everything just right."

In 1994, Lies published his first self-written picture book, Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, in which he introduced readers to the pig Hamlet and his best friend Quince, a porcupine. When Hamlet becomes enamored of kites and buys a large Chinese dragon kite, cautious Quince senses trouble. Indeed, the kite lifts Hamlet from the ground and the pig ultimately has to be rescued by an eagle. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Lies for his "meticulously detailed images and ability to sustain narrative tension," and in Booklist Deborah Abbott maintained that the author/ illustrator's "bright color drawings … carry the sprightly story."

Hamlet returns in Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle, which finds the pig vacationing at the beach. During a day in the sun, the ever-enthusiastic Hamlet makes a sand castle of grand proportions under the not-so-watchful eyes of slumbering Quince. When a sudden storm brews, Hamlet and Quince are stranded at the castle, but are rescued due to their clever use of a beach umbrella. Judith Constantinides, writing in School Library Journal, predicted that Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle "will appeal immensely to most youngsters," while a Publishers Weekly critic noted that Lies' "nimble watercolors play up comic elements and excitement" in his humorous tale.

In his New York Times bestselling picture book Bats at the Beach, Lies presents young children with a new take on a classic summer pastime, as a nocturnal batwinged family enjoys a day of sand and … moonlight. In Booklist, GraceAnne A. DeCandido explained that Lies' simple, rhythmic text "leave[s] no beach activity or experience unmentioned," and the "gently anthropomorphized bats" in his detailed paintings will engage young readers. "Kids will certainly identify with the exuberant and familiar fun," predicted Martha Topol in her School Library Journal review of Bats at the Beach, and Lies' "dark yet luminescent art" is "where the book truly soars." In Kirkus Reviews, a critic noted the humor in the author/illustrator's "lambent, exactly detailed paintings," which depict the snout-nosed bats playing beach volleyball, playing in the ocean, and chatting around a roaring campfire. Lies' fun-loving bat family returns in Bats at the Library, as they move from a spot near a roaring surf to a far quieter setting.

When Lies attends school gatherings, one of the questions he is often asked concerns how long it takes to write a book. "It depends on the book," he explained on his home page. "I've written a manuscript (and rewritten it many times!) in as little as three months, but I've also been working on a story for over ten years and still can't figure out how to tell it!"

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1990, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye; September 1, 1992, Kay Weisman, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Nosy Otter, p. 52; December 15, 1993, Emily Melton, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Whoooo, pp. 753-754; October 15, 1994, Deborah Abbott, review of Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, p. 437; March 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Bashful Beaver, p. 1242; March 15, 1997, Lauren Peterson, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Schoolhouse, p. 1241; January 1, 2002, Michael Cart, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle, p. 866; April 1, 2003, Diane Foote, review of Finklehopper Frog, p. 1403; August 1, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Bats at the Beach, p. 90.

Boston Sunday Herald, July 8, 2001, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle.

Children's Bookwatch, March, 2001, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle.

Family Fun Magazine, June, 1998, review of The Midnight Fridge.

Family Life, August, 2001, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1994, review of Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, p. 1133; May 15, 2006, review of Bats at the Beach, p. 520.

Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1991, review of George and the Dragon Word, p. 62; June 20, 1994, review of Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, p. 105; June 4, 2001, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle, p. 80; April 7, 2003, review of Finklehopper Frog, p. 65.

School Library Journal, March, 1991, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye; January, 1992, Dorothy Evans, review of George and the Dragon Word, p. 98; September, 1992, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Nosy Otter, p. 201; August, 1993, Sharron McElmeel, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Whoooo, p. 140; August, 1994, Margaret A. Chang, review of Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite, p. 140; April, 1995, Janet M. Bair, review of Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Bashful Beaver, p. 100; August, 1998, Jane Marino, review of The Midnight Fridge, p. 139; June, 2001, Judith Constantinides, review of Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle, p. 124; June, 2004, Anne L. Tormohlen, review of Lucky Duck, p. 122; June, 2006, Martha Topol, review of Bats at the Beach.

ONLINE

Boston Globe Online,http://www.boston.com/ (July 29, 2006), David Mehegen, "Illustrator's Book Has Kids Going Batty."

Brian Lies Home Page,http://www.brianlies.com (June 3, 2008).

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Lies, Brian 1963–

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