McCarty, Peter 1966-

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McCarty, Peter 1966-


Born 1966, in Westport, CT; married 1995; children: Henry, Suki (daughter). Education: Attended University of Colorado; School of Visual Arts, graduated, 1992.


E-mail—[email protected].


Illustrator. School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, instructor.

Awards, Honors

Marion Vannett Ridgway Memorial Award, New York Times Best Books designation, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice designation, Red Clover Award nomination, and Minnesota Book Award nomination, all 1997, and Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year designarion, 1998, all for Night Driving by John Coy; New York Times Best Illustrated Book designation, 1999, for Bunny on the Move; Caldecott Honor designation, Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, and New York Times Best Illustrated Book designation, all 2002, all for Hondo and Fabian; Charlotte Zolotow Award, 2007, for Moon Plane.



Little Bunny on the Move, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.

Baby Steps, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2000.

Hondo and Fabian, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

T Is for Terrible, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Moon Plane, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006.

Fabian Escapes, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.


David Getz, Frozen Man, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1994.

John Coy, Night Driving, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

David Getz, Life on Mars, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1997.

David Getz, Frozen Girl, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1998.

Rosemary Wells, Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1998.

David Getz, Purple Death: The Mysterious Flu of 1918, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2000.

Tor Seidler, Terpin, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Tor Seidler, Brothers below Zero, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2002.


Noted for his evocative pencil illustrations, award-winning artist and author Peter McCarty has gained critical acclaim for his original picture books Moon Plane, T Is for Terrible, and the Caldecott Honor book Hondo and Fabian. From rabbits to cats and dogs to dinosaurs, McCarty's original stories feature animal characters whose childlike personalities endear them to young readers. In T Is for Terrible, for instance, a Tyrannosaurus Rex bemoans its status as a much-feared carnivore with few friends, while Hondo and Fabian introduces a pair of mischievous household pets. Reviewing T Is for Terrible, a Publishers Weekly critic maintained that "McCarty's impressive, diaphanous art" engages toddlers with its "soothing" images while his text appeals to children's sense of whimsy. In his intricate pencil drawings for Baby Steps, McCarty also proves his ability to depict human characters, in this case, his own infant daughter. As Jane Marino wrote in School Library Journal, the author/illustrator's affectionate "illustrations are amazing in their simplicity, managing to capture small moments in meticulous detail."

Although born in New England, McCarty moved frequently while growing up due to his father's job. Although he enjoyed art, by the time he graduated from high school in Boulder, Colorado, he had decided to be a scientist. Enrolling at the University of Colorado, McCarty took science and math classes, but during his senior year he realized that he would not be happy working in a laboratory setting. Instead of graduating, McCarty moved to New York City and enrolled at the School of Visual Arts. After graduating in 1992, he was awarded his first illustration project by publisher Henry Holt, creating art David Getz's Frozen Man, on the strength of a recommendation by his illustration teacher, artist William Low.

McCarty's work for Frozen Man was praised by several critics, among them Chris Sherman who wrote in Booklist that the illustrator's "delicate, hazy drawings enhance the mysterious air of the text." Continuing his working relationship with editors at Henry Holt, he also achieved success with his second illustration project, John Coy's Night Driving. Reviewing this 1996 picture book, which won several awards, Booklist contributor Bill Ott wrote that the illustrator's "hazy, evocative" pencil illustrations "effectively capture the cocoon-like intimacy" of a father and son taking their first long road trip together. While McCarty has created artwork for several more books by other authors, beginning with his first original picture book, 1999's Bunny on the Move, he has found his greatest satisfaction illustrating his own stories.

In Hondo and Fabian McCarty introduces two of his most endearing characters: a yellow Labrador retriever and a gray tabby cat. The book brings to life a contented pet's day: from napping to exploring and causing a bit of mischief to eating in preparation for another round of napping. McCarty's "staccato text," while brief, "captures a lot of action in a few words," maintained Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper, the critic going on to laud the book's unique pencil illustrations done on textured watercolor paper. Citing the artist's "candlelit palette," a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that Hondo and Fabian conveys a "warm, nostalgic mood" which creates "an effect at once ingenuous and sophisticated." In an appraisal of the picture book for the New York Times Book Review, Penelope Green admitted that McCarty's text relays "the sparest of plots." It is in the artwork, Green explained, that the story resonates with readers: "The faces—they will break your heart," she wrote, adding that "Hondo's nose evokes all the eager wet noses that have ever thrust themselves into your hand."

Hondo and Fabian return in Fabian Escapes, which finds the curious tabby escaping the confines of the family house to explore the flower garden and meet the dogs next door, before racing back to hide under the porch. Meanwhile, the portly pup neatly steals some butter from the kitchen table before being requisitioned for a game of "dress up" by his family's toddler. Praising McCarty's soft-edged colored-pencil art, a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that, despite the book's title, in Fabian Escapes the author/illustrator "maintains an even keel in this wry look at pets' everyday lives."

Capturing the same nostalgic mood as Hondo and Fabian and Night Driving, Moon Plane finds a small boy watching an twin-engine airplane fly overhead and letting his imagination follow its amazing trip spaceward. Describing the book's plot as "more an idea than a story," Cooper explained that the author deftly captures "both the way children's imaginations work and the connections they make." "McCarty's narrative unfolds in a whisper," wrote a Publishers Weekly writer, the critic adding that the book's "quiet words and … soothing gray" artwork effectively transport young listeners on "an evanescent airplane journey." In School Library Journal Carolyn Janssen praised McCarty's monochromatic illustrations for creating the subdued "atmosphere of a silent movie," and a Kirkus Reviews writer praised the "gentle adventure" depicted in Moon Plane for "captur[ing] … the weightless wonder and timeless silence of flight in outer space."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 1994, Chris Sherman, review of Frozen Man, p. 595; December 15, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of Little Bunny on the Move, p. 790; October 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Baby Steps, p. 348; February 15, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Hondo and Fabian, p. 1021; August 1, 2006, Edie Ching, review of Hondo and Fabian, p. 99; September 1, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of Moon Plane, p. 125; March 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Fabian Escapes, p. 54.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1996, review of Night Driving, p. 131; November, 1999, review of Little Bunny on the Move, p. 100; October, 2000, review of Baby Steps, p. 74.

Horn Book, September-October, 1996, Roger Sutton, review of Night Driving, p. 574; November, 1998, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories, p. 744; May-June, 2007, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Fabian Escapes, p. 269.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of Brothers below Zero, p. 108; March 1, 2002, review of Hondo and Fabian, p. 339; July 1, 2004, review of T Is for Terrible, p. 633; August 15, 2006, review of Moon Plane, p. 848.

New York Times Book Review, November 21, 1999, J.D. Biersdorfer, review of Little Bunny on the Move; May 19, 2002, Penelope Green, review of Hondo and Fabian.

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1996, review of Night Driving, p. 97; September 27, 1999, review of Little Bunny on the Move, p. 104; October 2, 2000, review of Baby Steps, p. 81; February 25, 2002, review of Hondo and Fabian, p. 65; July 19, 2004, review of T Is for Terrible, p. 159; July 24, 2006, review of Moon Plane, p. 56; February 19, 2007, review of Fabian Escapes, p. 166.

School Library Journal, October, 1996, Lauralyn Persson, review of Night Driving, p. 91; December, 1999, Liza Graybill, review of Little Bunny on the Move, p. 103; October, 2000, Jane Marino, review of Baby Steps, p. 130; February, 2001, Jean Gaffney, review of Purple Death: The Mysterious Flu of 1918, p. 133; June, 2002, Jody McCoy, review of Hondo and Fabian, p. 100; May, 2006, Veronica Schwartz, review of T Is for Terrible, p. 69; September, 2006, Carolyn Janssen, review of Moon Plane, p. 178; June, 2007, Catherine Threadgill, review of Fabian Escapes, p. 114.


Peter McCarty Home Page, (August 27, 2007).