Mattheson, Jenny

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Mattheson, Jenny


Female. Education: Art Institute of Boston, B.F.A. (illustration).


Home and office—Berkeley, CA. E-mail—[email protected].


Illustrator. Malcolm X Elementary School, Berkeley, CA, art teacher.


Society of Children's Book Authors and Illustrators (Northern CA chapter).


Nancy Willard, The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Cheryl Ryan, Christmas Morning, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

Sarah Davies, Happy to Be Girls, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2005.

Beth Wagner Brust, The Great Tulip Trade, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Shirley Smith Duke, No Bows!, Peachtree (Atlanta, GA), 2006.

MaryAnn Hoberman, Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2007.


Growing up in Pennsylvania, children's book illustrator Jenny Mattheson maintained a sketchbook that included all of the things she was fascinated by: drawings of her friends, depictions of evil stepmothers, as well as illustrations of princesses and mermaids. As she noted on her home page, as an adult Mattheson continues to have "a strong appreciation of whimsical situations and characters." In addition to working as a freelance children's book illustrator, Mattheson also teaches art to elementary-grade children in Berkeley, California. On the Alphabet Books Web site, she explained that one reason she enjoys teaching art to children is that she enjoys her students' wonderful imaginations: "I love seeing how kids interpret stories! … It's a trade—I teach them and they teach me."

In her first picture-book collaboration, Mattheson created oil paintings for Newbery Award-winning author Nancy Willard's The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat that "add both a feeling of intimacy and side-splitting details" to Willard's story, in the opinion of a Kirkus Reviews writer. Also enthusiastic, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the first-time illustrator "rises to the challenges in Willard's text," employing "a slightly quirky, retro but representational style that encourages readers to" accept the story's string of amazing coincidences without question. Other titles have followed from this 2003 book, among them Happy to Be Girls by Sarah Davies and No Bows! by Shirley Smith Duke. In No Bows! Mattheson uses oil paint on primed paper to depict the independence and identity of the book's independent-minded young heroine, a tom boy who prefers braids over bows, lizards over puppies, and stories over quiet time. As a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, Mattheson's images "juxtapose the girl's rejections in small-scale, often framed images with full-bleed, full-page paintings of her chosen alternatives." A Kirkus Reviews critic commented on Mattheson's use of color in the book, noting that her illustrations are

"rendered in handsome, burnished colors that nonetheless have an element of dazzle to them."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 15, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 1479; May 1, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Great Tulip Trade, p. 1819; June 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Happy to Be Girls, p. July 1, 2006, Randall Enos, review of No Bows!, p. 64.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2003, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 428.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 482; February 15, 2006, review of No Bows!, p. 181; March 1, 2007, review of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, p. 223.

Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 65; September 27, 2004, review of Christmas Morning, p. 60; May 30, 2005, "Girl Talk," p. 63; April 10, 2006, review of No Bows!, p. 70.

School Library Journal, May, 2003, Laurie Edwards, review of The Mouse, the Cat, and Grandmother's Hat, p. 132; June, 2005, Rachel G. Payne, review of Happy to Be Girls, p. 108; April, 2006, Amelia Jenkins, review of No Bows!, p. 99; March, 2007, Mary Elam, review of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, p. 173.


Alphabet Books Web site, (May 1, 2007), "Jenny Mattheson."

Jenny Mattheson Home Page, (May 1, 2007).