Born in Aichi, Japan. Education: Parsons School of Design, graduated.
Home—Brooklyn, NY; Aichi, Japan. E-mail—[email protected]
Author and illustrator of books for children.
Dinah!: A Cat Adventure, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2004.
I Am Dodo: Not a True Story, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Bunny Lune, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Harriet Ziefert, Baby, I'm Bigger (reader), Sterling (New York, NY), 2007.
Kae Nishimura is an artist and author who illustrates her own children's books with drawings of whimsical cartoon-like animals. Born in Japan and a graduate of the Parson School of Design, Nishimura enjoys a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, and working in three dimensions. For each project, regardless of what medium she intends to use for the final artwork, Nishimura begins with numerous sketches. She simultaneously shapes her original story and illustrations, and finds that art allows her to better understand other people's lives and ideas.
Nishimura spent time in Japan while working on her first two children's books. Dinah!: A Cat Adventure follows the adventures of Dinah, a family pet, and describes the different roles the cat takes when dealing with each different member of her human family, be it princess, baby, or friend. The book also depicts Dinah's meetings with various neighbors, the fruit vendor, and a local dog, as the cat searches for clues to her true identity. Deborah Stevenson, in a review for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, commented that Dinah! includes "imaginative compositions, with a particularly good line in overhead views." A Publishers Weekly critic observed that "in Nishimura's fluid, naïf drawing style, Dinah looks both sympathetic and comical," and School Library Journal contributor Linda L. Walkins commented that the picture book "explores universal themes that include appreciating the security of a loving home, defining personal identity, and finding a place where you belong."
Nishimura presents another whimsical, self-illustrated story in I Am Dodo: Not a True Story. Here readers meet a science professor who does not believe that the dodo bird is extinct. When the scientist discovers the one remaining dodo on earth is actually living in Manhattan, he attempts to capture the unusual bird. During a page-turning game of hide and seek, Dodo eludes capture until the professor gives up serious pursuit, and their relationship changes into an unusual friendship. Calling I Am Dodo a "fanciful" picture book featuring "eccentric characters" and "zany plot twists," a Publishers Weekly critic concluded that Nishimura treats readers to "an amusing and winning story about the importance of friendship." The author/illustrator's watercolor cartoon images "add punch and details that bring out the wry humor of the story," noted Julie Roach, reviewing I Am Dodo for School Library Journal. Suggesting that Nishimura's picture book will have special appeal to grown-up readers, a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the work is "chock-full of worthy messages about freedom and friendship, belief and determination."
Nishimura introduces another whimsical character in her picture book Bunny Lune. Drawing on Japanese tradition, her titular rabbit hero becomes determined to fulfill his dream of reaching the moon when friend Pyonko explains that Japanese people believe that the moon is inhabited by rabbits. Although Bunny Lune realizes that he will never earn the money necessary to buy passage to the moon aboard a space ship, a meeting with an elderly man reveals another way of achieving his goal: traveling via his imagination. In Kirkus Reviews a critic dubbed Bunny Lune "endearingly eccentric," and Susan Moorhead wrote in School Library Journal that Nishimura's "quirky yet graceful story of perseverance and the power of the imagination" is enlivened by her "gentle, textured" and detailed watercolor and ink art.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2004, Deborah Stevenson, review of Dinah!: A Cat Adventure, pp. 345-346; May 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Bunny Lune, p. 49.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2004, review of Dinah!, p. 335; September, 2005, Julie Roach, review of I Am Dodo: Not a True Story, p. 183; July 15, 2007, review of Bunny Lune.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 2004, review of Dinah!, p. 59; November 7, 2005, review of I Am Dodo, p. 72; August 6, 2007, review of Bunny Lune, p. 187.
School Library Journal, April, 2004, Linda L. Walkins, review of Dinah!, p. 120; September, 2005, Julie Roach, review of I Am Dodo, p. 183; August, 2007, Susan Moorhead, review of Bunny Lune, p. 86.
Houghton Mifflin Web site,http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (January 5, 2009), "Kae Nishimura."