Merz, Jennifer J.

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Merz, Jennifer J.

Personal

Married; children: two daughters. Education: Marymount College (Tarrytown, NY), B.A. (studio art); College of New Rochelle, M.A. (art education); attended Parsons School of Design and School of Visual Arts. Hobbies and other interests: Jazz, classical music, travel, theatre, museums.

Addresses

Home—Allendale, NJ. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Illustrator, children's book author, and collage artist. Presenter at schools, libraries, and bookstores.

Member

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Writings

That Dancin' Dolly: A Retelling of "Buffalo Gals," a Traditional American Song, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Playground Day!, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Sidelights

Inspired by her grandfather, who taught her that dedication and determination will allow one to achieve one's goals, Jennifer J. Merz has established a successful career as an author, illustrator, and collage artist. "Some of my earliest memories are of crayons and coloring books," Merz recalled on her home page. "I still love the smell of a new box of Crayolas! I also have a very distinct memory of winning a coloring contest at age 7: the prize was a little doll in a blue dress!"

Merz's first professional illustration project, creating art for That Dancin' Dolly: A Retelling of "Buffalo Gals," a Traditional American Song, was released in 2004. Featuring lyrics that can be sung to the popular 1940s song "Buffalo Gals," That Dancin' Dolly pairs cut-paper and textile collages with a story about a girl and her rag doll as they turn the family washday into a fun play day. According to a Publishers Weekly contributor, the author's "breezy verses … soar across each spread" in concise language, and Maryann H. Owen praised Merz's colorful and "detailed double-page collages" as "a delight to examine."

In Playground Day! Merz again creates brightly colored paper and fabric collages that follows a girl and her toys on a trip to the local playground. In a rhyming text, the story describes the girl's rambunctious play, as she imitates each of her stuffed toys in turn. Calling the book "a celebratory ode to the splendor of playgrounds," a Kirkus Reviews writer cited in particular Merz's "sprightly rhymes" and "intriguing" textured art. In Booklist Abby Nolan also praised Playground Day!, writing that her collage images are "cut and torn with an artful imprecision, fairly detailed and often textured but not so intricate to be distracting."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2007, Abby Nolan, review of Playground Day!, p. 66.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2007, review of Playground Day!

Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2004, review of That Dancin' Dolly: A Retelling of "Buffalo Gals," a Traditional American Song, p. 161.

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Maryann H. Owen, review of That Dancin' Dolly, p. 146.

ONLINE

Jennifer J. Merz Home Page,http://www.jennifermerz.com (December 15, 2008).