Murphy, Kelly 1977–

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Murphy, Kelly 1977–


Born June 1, 1977, in Boston, MA. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A., 1999.


Home and office—North Attleboro, MA. E-mail—[email protected].


Freelance illustrator of books, educational products, and films, 1999—; Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA, instructor, 2002—. Cofounder, with Antoine Revoy, of Shybird Studios, 2007.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.



The Boll Weevil Ball, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.


Stephanie Bloom, A Place to Grow, Bloom and Grow Books, 2002.

Dianna Hutts Aston, Loony Little, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Sarah Hager, Dancing Matilda, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Tim Myers, Good Babies: A Tale of Trolls, Humans, a Witch, and a Switch, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Teresa Bateman, Fiona's Luck, Charlesbridge (New York, NY), 2007.

Sandra Ionzo, Gallop-O-Gallop, Dial (New York, NY), 2007.

Boni Ashburn, Hush Little Dragon, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2008.

Elise Broach, Masterpiece, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008.

Kathi Appelt, Brand-New Baby Blues, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2010.


Artist and educator Kelly Murphy has made a name for herself with her whimsical and expressive art, which appears in picture books written by writers ranging from Tim Myers and Elise Broach to Dianna Hutts Aston. In addition to book illustration, Murphy also designs images for educational products, and has created art featured in the independent film Little Erin Merryweather.title A writer as well as artist, she has also produced the original self-illustrated picture book The Boll Weevil Ball, which was released in 2002.

Reviewing Murphy's work for Myers' whimsical picture book Good Babies: A Tale of Trolls, Humans, a Witch, and a Switch, a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted "Murphy's deft, comical watercolors" as a strength of the "warm-hearted" monster story. In School Library Journal, Linda Staskus noted that while the characters "are simply drawn," the artist's use of "rich color and shading bring them to life" in Myers' "enjoyable story." Murphy's "bouncy illustrations add considerable charm" to Sarah Hager's Dancing Matilda, according to another Kirkus Reviews critic, while in School Library Journal Luella Teuton dubbed the artist's work for Teresa Bateman's folktale adaptation Fiona's Luck "richly toned and evocative." The illustrator's "simple, angular figures, as well as her use of "soft, rich [tones] … perfectly accentuates the folksy charisma of Bateman's story," concluded a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a positive appraisal of Fiona's Luck.

Murphy was born and raised in southeastern Massachusetts, and as she wrote on her home page, "after failing a few gym classes and falling asleep during geometry," she decided she would be better off developing her artistic talent. After earning a B.A. in illustration from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, Murphy began teaching at the Montserrat College of Art, north of Boston. She became interested in children's book illustration as a college student, telling SATA that is her "true passion." Since her first picture-book projects, illustration opportunities have come from major New York City publishers, in addition to local clients.

Murphy once explained the process she employs in creating book illustrations to SATA. First "I sit down and force myself to get a story board idea down. Then … I do a lot of research, either for colors, animals, landscape, culture, or compositions. For me that's the most fun part. I love filling up sketchbooks of animal studies. And then comes the process of painting, which can take several days to finish just one page. My illustrations have several layers to them, making it tedious and slow going sometimes."

Murphy offered the following advice to aspiring writers and illustrators: "The best piece of advice I give my students is to stick in there. Don't fold, and try not to let the negative critiques get to you. Find what it is that interests you and use that as your driving force. Also, being open to experimentation with your style and concepts will keep your noggin working."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2007, Hope Morrison, review of Fiona's Luck, p. 324.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of The Boll Weevil Ball, p. 1039; May 15, 2005, review of Dancing Matilda, p. 589; October 1, 2005, review of Good Babies: A Tale of Trolls, Humans, a Witch, and a Switch, p. 1085; January 15, 2007, review of Fiona's Luck, p. 69; April 1, 2007, review of Gallop-O-Gallop.

Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2002, review of The Boll Weevil Ball, p. 75; January 1, 2007, review of Fiona's Luck, p. 48.

School Library Journal, September, 2002, Kristin de Lacoste, review of The Boll Weevil Ball, p. 202; December, 2005, Linda Staskus, review of Good Babies, p. 119; April, 2007, Luella Teuton, review of Fiona's Luck, p. 94; June, 2007, Lee Bock, review of Gallop-O-Gallop, p. 128.


Kelly Murphy Home Page, (June 5, 2008).

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Murphy, Kelly 1977–

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