Monks, Lydia

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Monks, Lydia


Born in Surrey, England; married; children: one daughter. Education: Kingston University, B.F.A. (illustration). Hobbies and other interests: Irish dancing.


Home—Sheffield, England.


Illustrator and author of books for children. Worked for British newspapers, including London Times and Evening Standard, until 2002.

Awards, Honors

Smarties Bronze Award, 1999, for I Wish I Were a Dog; named World Book Day illustrator, 2005.



I Wish I Were a Dog, Methuen (London, England), 1998, published as The Cat Barked?, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.

My Cat's Weird, Egmont (London, England), 2002.

Aaaarrgghh! Spider!, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

No More Ee-orrhh!, Egmont (London, England), 2005.

Ooo, Ooo, Ooo Gorilla!, Egmont (London, England), 2007.

Author's work has been translated into ten languages.


Roger McGough, Bad, Bad Cats, Viking (London, England), 1997.

Sally Grindley, Who's Next?, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Karen Wallace, Madeleine the City Pig, MacMillan Children's (London, England), 1999, published as City Pig, Orchard (New York, NY), 2000.

Karen Wallace, Esmerelda, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2000.

John Agard, Hello New, Orchard (London, England), 2000.

Myron Uhlberg, Mad Dog McGraw, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2000.

John Agard, Come Back to Me, My Boomerang, Orchard (London, England), 2001.

Pamela Mayer, The Scariest Monsterin the Whole Wide World, Putnam's (New York, NY), 2001.

Roger McGough, What on Earth Can It Be?, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

Roger McGough, Good Enough to Eat, Puffin (London, England), 2002.

Carol Ann Duffy, Queen Much and Queen Nibble, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2002, MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2007.

Roger McGough, All the Best: Selected Poems, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

Carol Ann Duffy, The Skipping-Rope Snake, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2003.

Julia Donaldson, Princess Mirror-Belle, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2003.

Leah Wilcox, Falling for Rapunzel, G.P. Putnam's (New York, NY), 2003.

Jeanne Willis, Zitz, Glitz, and Body Blitz, Walker Books (London, England), 2004.

Jeanne Willis, Snogs, Sex, and Soulmates, Walker Books (London, England), 2004.

Jeanne Willis, Bits, Boobs, and Blobs, Walker Books (London, England), 2004.

Kate Agnew, Shout, Show, and Tell, Egmont (London, England), 2004, Crabtree Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.

Julia Donaldson, Sharing a Shell, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2004.

Julia Donaldson, Princess Mirror-Belle and the Magic Shoes, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2005.

Mara Bergman, Glitter Kitty, Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2005.

Julia Donaldson, Princess Mirror-Belle and the Flying Horse, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2006.

Leah Wilcox, Waking Beauty, G.P. Putnams (New York, NY), 2008.


Being Grown-up Is Cool (Not!), Walker Books (London, England), 2005, Yearling (New York, NY), 2007.

Oops, I Lost My Best(est) Friends, Walker Books (London, England), 2005, Yearling (New York, NY), 2007.

How to Be Good(ish), Walker Books (London, England), 2005, Yearling (New York, NY), 2007.

Are We Having Fun Yet? (Hmm?), Walker Books (London, England), 2006, Yearling (New York, NY), 2008.

My Big (Strange) Happy Family!, Walker Books (London, England), 2007, Yearling (New York, NY), 2009.

Wow, I'm a Gazillionaire! (I Wish), Walker Books (London, England), 2007.

My (Most Excellent) Pet Project, Walker Books (London, England), 2008.

Me and the School (Un) Fair, Walker Books (London, England), 2008.


The colorful acrylic-and-collage art created by British illustrator Lydia Monks has received acclaim as well as a strong following among the picture-book set. Beginning her career creating the award-winning self-illustrated picture book I Wish I Were a Dog (published in the United States as The Cat Barked?), Monks has found her whimsical illustrations in demand by publishers desiring to pair them with texts by other writers.

Reviewing The Cat Barked?, a Publishers Weekly contributor cited the "snappiness of [Monks's] … rhyming text" and concluded of the book that "the zaniness is lightly but expertly controlled, and the pictures pop off the page." The "sassy, imaginative assortment of cartoonlike cats and dogs" that Monks introduces in her lighthearted story about a cat-dog competition "will delight children with their angst-ridden personalities and their antics," according to Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin.

Born in Surrey, England, Monks considered becoming a fashion designer before realizing that it would involve sewing, which she disliked. Illustration seemed like a respectable second choice, and after earning her illustration degree at Kingston University, she worked in London for almost a decade before deciding to move into children's book illustration. Monks wrote the text for I Wish I Were a Dog in order to have something to illustrate; she hoped that the images she created to accompany it would impress editors at publishing houses. Impress it did: I Wish I Were a Dog earned Monks the 1999 Smarties Bronze Award and secured her a career in children's books.

Other books by Monks include My Cat's Weird, Aaaarrgghh! Spider!, and No More Eee-orrhh!, all of which feature her whimsical stories and animated collage art. In Aaaarrgghh! Spider! Monks tells a story about a lonely spider, whose greatest dream is to be part of a family. All her overtures of friendliness are met with cries of fear, however, until she creates a beautiful silken web in the garden of the family's home. No More Eee-orrhh! introduces a donkey who is unpopular among his neighbors because of his habit of awakening early with a raucous bray. Monks's memorable art for No More Eee-orrhh! consists of "bold paint-and-collage crammed with fun shapes and a riot of colors," according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, while in Aaaarrgghh! Spider! she "begins with a visual bang and an unusual premise," according to School Library Journal contributor Laurie Edwards.

In addition to her original self-illustrated work, Monks has created art to pair with texts by authors such as Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy, Julia Donaldson, and Leah Wilcox. Praising her contribution to Karen Wallace's City Pig, in which an upper-class urban piggy discovers her true home during a trip to the country, Booklist critic Michael Cart wrote that "Monks' zany, mixed-media, postmodern pictures are a smile-inducing treat" for young readers. Appearing in the pages of Falling for Rapunzel, Wilcox's "irreverent spoof" on "fairy-tale conventions," Monks's "bright and lively mixed-media illustrations" do much to "extend the text's infectious humor," according to Horn Book contributor Kitty Flynn. In illustrating Myron Uhlberg's Mad Dog McGraw, Monks creates what Horn Book contributor Kitty Flynn described as "playful acrylic, pencil, and collage illustrations [that] establish a humorous tone" as well as the underlying fear of a small boy confronted by a large, growling dog. "Brightly colored backgrounds and variations in layout, size, and perspective keep the artwork fresh," agreed Joy Fleishhacker in her School Library Journal review of Uhlberg's picture book.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 1999, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Cat Barked?, p. 1207; August, 2000, Linda Perkins, review of Mad Dog McGraw, p. 2150; February 15, 2000, Michael Cart, review of City Pig, p. 1123; December 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Falling for Rapunzel, p. 686.

Horn Book, November-December, 2003, Kitty Flynn, review of Falling for Rapunzel, p. 737.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2004, review of Aaaarrgghh! Spider!, p. 634; July 1, 2006, review of No More Eee-Orrh!, p. 680.

Publishers Weekly, April 19, 1999, review of The Cat Barked?, p. 71.

School Library Journal, March, 2000, Carol Ann Wilson, review of City Pig, p. 219; August, 2000, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Mad Dog McGraw, p. 166; December, 2003, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Falling for Rapunzel, p. 130; September, 2004, Laurie Edwards, review of Aaaarrgghh! Spider!, p. 17.


Walker Books Web site, (June 11, 2008), "Lydia Monks."