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Matsuoka, Mei 1981-

Matsuoka, Mei 1981-

Personal

Born March 27, 1981, in Tokyo, Japan; immigrated to England, 1992. Education: Kingston University (UK), B.A. (illustration and animation; with honors). Hobbies and other interests: Travel, snowboarding, tortoises, collecting podgy characters.

Addresses

Home and office—Buckingham, England; Tokyo, Japan. Agent—United Agents, 12-26 Lexington St., London W1F 0LE, England. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Illustrator and animator.

Member

Association of Illustrators.

Awards, Honors

Azora Environmental Picture Book Competition winner, 2004, for Ten-san, Kame-san, and Muri-san Go on a Journey; Portsmouth Children's Book Award, 2007, for Burger Boy.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Ten-san, Kame-san, and Muri-san Go on a Journey, ANA (Japan), 2005.

Footprints in the Snow, Andersen Press (London, England), 2007, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR

Alan Durant, Burger Boy, Andersen (London, England), 2005, Clarion (New York, NY), 2006.

Julia Hubery, Raffi's Surprise, Simon & Schuster UK (London, England), 2006, published as A Friend for All Seasons, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2007.

Boris von Smercek and Shimizu Noriko, Hannibals Marchen, Shufunotomo (Japan), 2006.

Carl Norac, Tell Me a Story, Mummy, Macmillan (London, England), 2007.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Sidelights

Born in Tokyo, Japan, and now making her home in England, Mei Matsuoka is an illustrator and animator whose naive, mixed-media images have appeared in picture books by Julia Hubery, Alan Durant, and Carl Norac. In addition to her work creating illustrations for others, Matsuoka has also created the original picture book Footprints in the Snow, which finds a stock big-and-bad story-book villain, Wolf, hoping to rewrite his much-maligned character by penning a story in which the wolf is nice rather than scary.

Matsuoka's distinctive mixed-media art was first seen in Burger Boy, a picture-book story by Durant that introduces the hamburger-loving Benny. In fact, Benny eats hamburgers exclusively, much to the consternation of his mother. When the boy actually turns into a hamburger—because, after all, you are what you eat—Durant's amusing tale takes off into a denouement guaranteed to resonate with selective eaters. Calling Burger Boy "a tasty and off-kilter romp," a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the book is "embellished with eventful illustrations that are brimming with delightful comic details." In Booklist Julie Cummins wrote that Matsuoka's "cartoonlike collage illustrations are the perfect compliment for this cautionary tale," and in School Library Journal Rita Hunt Smith concluded that Burger Boy is a "rollicking British import" in which the "simple lines and lively colors of the [artist's] acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations add to the kid appeal."

Another illustration project found Matsuoka creating art for Julia Hubery's A Friend for All Season (published in England as Raffi's Surprise), in which a young raccoon becomes concerned when the tree in which he makes his home, Father Oak, begins to drop its leaves. As the seasons run their course, the raccoon, his squirrel friend, and the reader all learn about the cycle of a year by watching the ongoing transformation of the old tree and its woodsy surroundings, Hubery's gentle story is set off by Matsuoka's "large, stylized" mixed-media pictures that "reflect the changing seasons," according to School Library Journal critic Marianne Saccardi. In Kirkus Reviews, a critic noted in particular the illustrator's use of "a warm palette of earth tones," dubbing A Friend for All Seasons "a gentle tale with a nifty lesson."

Matsuoka told SATA: "I love what I get to do as an illustrator and enjoy the challenges of each new picture book. Having grown up in both the UK and Japan, I think that these influences can be seen strongly in my work. I also grew to love the darker side of East European art, which I discovered while studying at Kingston University."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2006, Julie Cummins, review of Burger Boy, p. 53; July 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of A Friend for All Seasons, p. 65.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2006, review of Burger Boy, p. 1013; July 15, 2007, review of A Friend for All Seasons.

Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2006, review of Burger Boy, p. 66.

School Library Journal, October, 2006, Rita Hunt Smith, review of Burger Boy, p. 109; August, 2007, Marianne Saccardi, review of A Friend for All Seasons, p. 82.

ONLINE

Mei Matsuoka Home Page,http://www.meimatsuoka.com (August 5, 2008).

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