Nascimbene, Yan 1949-

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Nascimbene, Yan 1949-


Born April 3, 1949, in Paris, France; married Joan Parazette (an author, painter, and illustrator), 1972; children: Noémie, Amanzio. Education: Attended New York School of Visual Arts, 1969-70; attended University of California—Davis.


Home—Southern France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin Children's Books, 222 Berkeley, Boston, MA 02116-3764. E-mail—[email protected]


Author and illustrator. Photographer's assistant in Paris, France; Pompelmo Editore (publishing company), Rome, Italy, founder and publisher, with wife, Joan Parazette, 1972. Freelance commercial illustrator; writer and director of film The Mediterranean, 1980. Exhibitions: Work has been exhibited in the United States, France, Japan, England, Switzerland, and Italy.

Awards, Honors

Three graphic awards, Bologna International Book Fair, 1988, for book covers for Gallimard Press, and 1992, for Antibes, clavière et autres couleurs; two Silver medals, Society of Illustrators.



Antibes, claviere et autres couleurs, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1991. A Day in September, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 1995.

Ocean Deep, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 1999.

Glass Pebbles, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 2001.

Pages blanche et autres couleurs, Gallimard (Paris, France), 2002.


Jean-Loup Chiflet, Fdg. Le guide du futur directeur general, Hermé (France), 1986.

A chacun son chat, Fantôme (France), 1987.

Michel Naudy, L'argent du Mouton, Editions Syros (France), 1988.

Nadine Brun-Cosme, Marie de la mer, Editions Milan (France), 1988.

Claude Aveline, Histoires nocturnes et fantastiques, Imprimerie Nationale (France), 1989.

Nadine Brun-Cosme, Les pigeons, Editions Milan (France), 1989.

Philippe Dorin, Paroles d'ange, Bayard (Paris, France), 1989.

Claude Aveline, La villa remiro, Imprimerie Nationale (France), 1990.

Julie Dumonteil, Graines de guerre, fleur de paix, Nathan/Le Monde (Paris, France), 1990.

Nadine Brun-Cosme, Alex et le silence, Editions Milan (France), 1990.

Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, Gallimard/Futuropolis (Paris, France), 1990.

(With wife, Joan Parazette) J.M. Lorrain, Recettes en fete, Nathan (France), 1992.

Marcello Venturi, L'ultimo veliero, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1992.

Claude Gutman, L'albergo del Ritorno, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1992.

Helene Siegel, Chinese Cooking for Beginners, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Helene Siegel, Italian Cooking for Beginners, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Helene Siegel, Mexican Cooking for Beginners, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Claude Gutman, La casa vuota, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1993.

Roberto Piumini, Motu iti, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1993.

Chris Donner, Lettere dal mare, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1993.

Helene Siegel, French Cooking for Beginners, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Chris Donner, Bel libro, Papa!, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1994.

Lois Lowry, Colpi alla porta, Einaudi Ragazzi (Italy), 1995.

Richard Wright, Rite de passage, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1995.

Malika Ferdjoukh, La fille d'en face, Bayard Presse (France), 1996.

Wine: A Record Keeping Journal, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1996.

Hiawym Oram, Robo-Lapin, Gallimard Jeunesse (Paris, France), 1996.

Insomnia Journal, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Robert Belfiore, Crime de papier, Bayard Presse (France), 1997.

Life's Little Notebooks, twelve volumes, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Divination: A Fortune-Telling Journal, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Hiawym Oram, Robo-Lapin et les pirates, Gallimard Jeunesse (Paris, France), 1997.

Baby, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Coffee, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Dog, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Dream, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Food, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Garden, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Golf, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Home, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Love, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Travel, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

Anne Perry-Bouquet, Un petit cheval et une voiture, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1997.

Sharon Creech, Les chemins de la vie, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1997.

Régine Detambel, La comédia des mots, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1997.

Reader's Journal, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1998.

Garden: Dreams and Plans, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1998.

Mark Francis and Andreas Reiman, The California Landscape Garden, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1999.

Charlotte Zolotow, The Beautiful Christmas Tree, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

ABC, Giannino Stoppani Edizioni (Italy), 2000.

Yves Hughes, Coeur de piaf, Gallimard (Paris, France), 2000.

Bernard Clavel, Le chàteau de papier, Albin Michel (Paris, France), 2001, translation published as Castle of Books, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.

Italo Calvino, Aventures, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 2001, translation published as Difficult Loves, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Rolande Causse, Le port des poemes, Actes Sud (France), 2001.

Jean Rouaud, La belle au lézard dans son cadre doré, Albin Michel (Paris, France), 2002.

25 noels du monde, Actes Sud (France), 2002.

(With others) Raymond Queneau, Exercises de style, Gallimard (Paris, France), 2002.

Italo Calvino, Palomar, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 2003.

S.L. Berry,William Carlos Williams, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 2003.

Ryann Ann Hunter, Into the Air: An Illustrated Timeline of Flight, National Geographic (Washington, DC), 2003.

Elisabeth Brami, La quatrieme fille du docteur Klein, Seuil Jeunesse (Paris, France), 2003.

Pamela Turner, Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, Houghton Mifflin, (Boston, MA), 2004.

Italo Calvino, Le baron Perché, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 2005.

Elisabeth Brami, Les vieux enfants, Editions du Panama (France), 2005.

Joan Parazette, Aldo!, Creative Editions (Mankato, MN), 2006.

Contributor of illustrations to periodicals worldwide, including Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, Hemispheres, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Toronto Life, Scientific American, and Atlantic Monthly.


Author of screenplays The Mediterranean, 1980, and Belle-ile.

Nascimbene's books have been translated into eight languages.


In addition to creating sophisticated picture books for adult readers, artist and author Yan Nascimbene brings an exotic element to his work for children's books, and critics often compare the artwork of the European-born author/illustrator to Japanese woodcut design due to their stylized, graphic elements and dramatic use of color. "The subtlety of color and the expressiveness in figure drawing lift [Nascimbene's] … artwork above the norm for illustrated nonfiction," noted Carolyn Phelan in a Booklist review of the artist's illustrations for Ryann Ann Hunter's Into the Air: An Illustrated Timeline of Flight. Profiling the artist in the art journal Watercolor, Zachary R. Heineman wrote of Nascimbene's award-winning self-illustrated Antibes, claviere et autres couleurs that "the beautiful, often evocative, light-filled scenes … are uniquely, almost cinematically framed—often implying, with certain mystery, as much as they show."

Nascimbene, the son of wealthy parents, experienced a childhood marked by sadness, loneliness, and a sense of abandonment. Raised primarily by nannies, he injects the resulting feelings of emptiness and isolation, along

with a sense of hope, into the books he illustrates as well as writes. In A Day in September, the first of his books to be widely reviewed in the United States, Nascimbene retells in magical form the story of his relationship with his wife, fellow artist Joan Parazette. In the book, Raphael, the young son of wealthy French parents on vacation in the United States, meets Estella, the daughter of poor migrant workers. The two young people first meet at a baseball game, and they reunite as adults through a personal ad. "The illustrations are unusual, compelling and bittersweet," observed Elizabeth Sherwin on the Gizmo Web site, adding that the author/illustrator "manages to evoke loneliness but not sadness." A contributor to the Children's Book Review Service maintained that while Nascimbene's story is perhaps too sophisticated for children, the book is "beautifully illustrated." Liza Bliss, writing in School Library Journal, also remarked that volume's small type and long narrative passages "may meet with some resistance," but concluded that the author/illustrator's evocative watercolors "are simple, quiet, and clean, with space for resonance," resulting in "an extremely rewarding picture book."

Ocean Deep was Nascimbene's next self-illustrated picture book to appear in English translation. In this story a wealthy little girl sent to boarding school in Switzerland pines for her home and parents in Brazil. Then she makes friends with Aldo, a boy who is secretly building a sailboat on school grounds. Lucia dreams of sailing in Aldo's boat close enough to her parents to wave at them. As with the author's earlier effort, Ocean Deep features a longer text than is standard for the picture-book format and his illustrations again drew comparisons to Japanese art due to their clean lines and spare silhouettes. The story also evokes the feelings Nascimbene identifies from his own childhood: isolation, abandonment, and hope for a better future. A Kirkus Reviews contributor dubbed Ocean Deep a "mysterious book" featuring a story that is "deeply felt" and "ripe for the interpretation of children."

Nascimbene is perhaps best known for creating art for books written by others, although his earliest artwork was published primarily in France. Among his illustration projects is an abbreviated, picture-book edition of Charlotte Zolotow's The Beautiful Christmas Tree, in which a man renovates a neglected home and plants a tree in the front yard. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, called the book "a visual delight, though the abridged story is less satisfying than the original." Originally published in French, the English translation of Bernard Clavele's Le chàteau de papier, titled Castle of Books, was praised by a Publishers Weekly reviewer for the illustrations' "unique perspective and depth," the contributor adding that Nascimbene's watercolor images "excel and concisely linking" the worlds of reality and imagination that coexist at the heart of Clavel's story.

Nascimbene's work for Pamela S. Turner's Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, which recounts the poignant story of a loyal pet that awaits a master who will never return, were praised by a Kirkus Reviews writer for their "thoughtful, restrained style," while in Booklist a contributor wrote that Nascimbene's images "beautifully anchor … the true story in place and time." In Horn Book Jennifer Brabander cited Nascimbene's art for its "austere elegance," adding that it "matches the … subdued tone of quiet dignity in Turner's text."

In addition to children's books, Nascimbene has also illustrated new editions of books for adults, including Swan's Way by Marcel Proust, and two books by Italo Calvino, an Italian author with whom Nascimbene feels a close affinity due to the focus on love, loneliness, and the fragility of human connections that the two men share. He has also contributed his sophisticated and

evocative art to diaries, journals, cookbooks, and gift books. Since beginning his career as a graphic artist in the late 1980s, Nascimbene has also contributed hundreds of book covers for Paris-based Publisher Gallimard.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, December 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Beautiful Christmas Tree, p. 715; December 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of William Carlos Williams, p. 658; December 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Into the Air: An Illustrated Timeline of Flight, p. 748; January 1, 2005, review of Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, p. 776.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2004, Deborah Stevenson, review of Hachiko, p. 441.

Children's Book Review Service, winter, 1996, review of A Day in September, p. 64.

Horn Book, January, 2000, review of The Beautiful Christmas Tree, p. 62; July-August, 2004, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Hachiko, p. 471.

Kirkus Reviews,November 15, 1999, review of Ocean Deep, p. 1814; May 1, 2004, review of Hachiko, p. 450.

Publishers Weekly, February 18, 2002, review of Castle of Books, p. 96; December 1, 2003, review of Into the Air, p. 59; May 17, 2004, review of Hachiko, p. 50.

School Library Journal, April, 1996, Liza Bliss, review of A Day in September, p. 138; October, 1999, Lisa Falk, review of The Beautiful Christmas Tree, p. 71; April, 2002, Marianne Saccardi, review of Castle of Books, p. 102.

Variety, February 9, 1983, review of The Mediterranean, p. 27.

Watercolor, fall, 2005, Zachary R. Heineman, "Yan Nascimbene: Painting with a Continental Flourish," p. 36.


Gizmo, (February 1, 2002), Elisabeth Sherwin, "International Illustrator Pours Childhood Soul into Books"

Yan Nascimbene Home Page, (October 3, 2006).