Parr, Todd 1962-

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Parr, Todd 1962-

Personal

Born 1962, in WY.

Addresses

Home—San Francisco, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Children's book illustrator and author, and graphic artist. Commercial artist, with licensed designs appearing on clothing, toys, and furniture items. Creator of television program ToddWorld, airing on Discovery Kids Channel, beginning 2002. Active in reading programs through Reach Out and Read and others. Exhibitions: Work exhibited at FAO Schwartz, New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA.

Awards, Honors

National Publication Awards Honors Book designation, 1999, for This Is My Hair; Daytime Academy Award nominations, 2005, 2006, 2007 for Outstanding Children's Animated Program, and 2007, for Original Song, all for ToddWorld.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED PICTURE BOOKS

Do's and Don'ts, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

This Is My Hair, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

The Okay Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Things That Make You Feel Good/Things That Make You Feel Bad, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

The Best Friends Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Underwear Do's and Don'ts, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Zoo Do's and Don'ts, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

The Feelings Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Big and Little (board book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

Black and White (board book), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

It's Okay to Be Different, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

My Really Cool Baby Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

The Daddy Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

The Mommy Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

The Feel Good Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Funny Faces, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Going Places, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2002.

Otto Goes to School, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Otto Goes to Bed, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Otto Goes to the Beach, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.

Otto Goes to Camp, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

Otto Has a Birthday Party, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

The Peace Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2004.

Who's Your Best Friend?, LB Kids, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.

Let's Play Together, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2005.

Reading Makes You Feel Good, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.

The Grandma Book, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.

The Grandpa Book, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.

It's a Colorful World, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.

Giant Book of Friendship Fun! (interactive book), LB Kids (New York, NY), 2006.

Todd's Silly Book of Shapes, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.

We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of Be Hospitable, privately published c. 2006, as part of a marketing campaign for Hilton Family of Hotels.

Parr's books have been translated into several languages, including Japanese, Spanish, French, Korean, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Adaptations

ToddWorld, a twenty-six-episode television series based on Parr's books, was developed for broadcast in 2002. Several novelty books were adapted from the series, and from Parr's work, by YAY! Design, among them Stella's Different Ears, A Dog's Day, and Lights out, Todd!

Sidelights

With engaging titles such as Underwear Do's and Don'ts, The Okay Book, and Giant Book of Friendship Fun!, the toddler-friendly books created by author/illustrator Todd Parr feature bright, saturated colors and graphic, heavily outlined shapes. While each of his books reflect Parr's childlike sense of whimsy, they also address difficult concepts, as in The Peace Book, which shrinks an abstract concept into child-friendly terms. Noting each volume's diminutive size and simple texts, Children's Book Review Service contributor Leanne D. Grace characterized Parr's literary output as "small books containing big ideas," while in School Library Journal Christy Norris Blanchette praised the author's "reassuring and kindhearted lessons." In a Bookpage.com interview, Parr explained that he includes three main ingredients in each of his popular books: "bright colors, bold lines, with simple feel-good messages about believing in yourself and being different."

Raised in Wyoming, Parr loved to draw as a child, and art class ranked as the best part of the school day. His two favorite books while growing up were Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss and both Go, Dog, Go! and Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman inspired his decision to become a children's book author and illustrator in the late 1990s. The same quirky humor used by Seuss and Eastman is embodied in Parr's own picture books, which a Publishers Weekly contributor characterized as "whimsical" and "upbeat" combinations of "advice and silliness." "One of my first book reviews said an actual child drew the illustrations," Parr recalled in an interview with Chris Mills for Instructor magazine. "At the time, I thought it was so embarrassing. I was wrecked. But I've really come to appreciate that comment over the years, because I think it's why kids relate so well to me and my books."

Parr's board books, in particular, are popular with the toddler set. In the titles Black and White and Big and Little his high-contrast illustrations help teach even the youngest toddler a basic concept using what a Publishers Weekly contributor characterized, in a review of Black and White as a "signature bold black line" that "pops from neon-bright pages." His "Otto" series, about a yellow puppy with one blue ear, also engages young page-turners with gentle stories full of toddler appeal. In Otto Goes to Bed, the puppy prepares for bed by barking at the moon, and in Otto Goes to the Beach he makes new friends during a trip to the seashore, among them a crabby crab, a condescending kitty, and a purple poodle sporting a bright pink hairstyle. Otto Goes to School finds the happy puppy fueling up with a banana-split breakfast before boarding the bus for his first day of school. While gaining an important lesson in safe tail-wagging, the likeable Otto gives children "support for a new experience," according to Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper. In School Library Journal Melinda Piehler predicted that the "Otto" books "will charm adults and children alike."

An early example of Parr's penchant for fun is This Is My Hair, which showcases the many things a child's hair can do, from blowing in the breeze to becoming flattened by a hat to being pulled back tight in pigtails. In addition to discussing hairstyle variations from short to long, Parr veers off into the world of the totally absurd by suggesting "It's okay to put fish in your hair," thereby winning the hearts of toddlers everywhere. "Best friends will let you make dinner for them even if you serve spaghetti and worms," Parr suggests in The Best Friends Book. A Kirkus Reviews writer praised This Is My Hair for both its "uplifting" conclusion and Parr's humorous illustrations. Calling The Best Friends Book "truly witty," another Kirkus Reviews contributor praised the author's "cheerfully, deliberately formulaic" approach, and added that the rules and advice Parr imparts in this book will be "of importance to children."

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Writing in School Library Journal, Olga R. Barnes also praised Parr's bright, stick-figure art and predicted that story-time participants will "laugh out loud" at the author/illustrator's "tongue-in-cheek" text.

While humor injects itself into all Parr's work, several of his books weave serious themes in with the fun. In It's Okay to Be Different, for example, a bright purple elephant reminds toddlers that "It's okay to have a different nose," adding its voice to the diverse animal menagerie that give voice to childhood insecurities ranging from being in an embarrassing situation to having a visible disability. The Family Book broke new ground by including children growing up with same-sex parents, while The Feel Good Book promotes compassion, curiosity, and optimism. Reading Makes You Feel Good touts the many joys to be found in books. Effective in its intent, It's Okay to Be Different is useful "for beginning a discussion on mutual respect," in the opinion of School Library Journal contributor Adele Greenlee, while a Publishers Weekly critic wrote that the book "focuses on acceptance and individuality and encourages readers to do the same." In a similar fashion, The Family Book "documents differences matter-of-factly," according to a School Library Journal critic, and The Feel Good Book was described as the "perfect pick-me-up for any child who is having a bad day" by School

Library Journal reviewer Linda Ludke. Reading Makes You Feel Good contains a "worthy message" paired with artwork featuring "rich colors and neatly drawn, thick-lined simplicity," according to Booklist contributor John Peters. In School Library Journal, Suzanne Myers Harold noted that Parr's inclusion of "fun details" and multi-colored animal characters "encourage children and adults to move beyond the text and discuss the pictures together," thereby strengthening each book's value.

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Designed to help young children record their growing-up years, My Really Cool Baby Book reflects the diversity among modern families, such as blended families and single-parent families. Along with a colorful growth chart, the book contains stickers, checklists, questionnaires, photo pages, and fill-in-the-blank sections that help children and parents record the years from infancy to toddlerdom and beyond. Not only "first word" but "first burp" are included in a work a Publishers Weekly contributor praised for featuring Parr's characteristic "signature neon-bright colors, energetic humor, … and consideration of children's feelings." Families are also the focus of The Grandma Book and The Grandpa Book, which help children distinguish the many interesting and often amazing traits most loving grandparents share, as well as The Mommy Book and The Daddy Book.

Parr, who lives and works in San Francisco, California, with his dog, Bully, enjoys his popularity as a children's book author and illustrator, and makes time in his schedule to attend the book tours that allow him to meet his many young fans. In addition to his "book work," he is a successful commercial designer whose artwork appears on everything from backpacks to toys and bath accessories. His books, which are enjoyed by children all around the world, from England and Australia to the Netherlands and Japan, have also inspired Parr to create the animated television program, ToddWorld, which follows the adventures of a blue-faced seven year old named Todd who shares a fantasy world with talking animals and demonstrates the importance of tolerance and the benefits of diversity.

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Parr, Todd, This Is My Hair, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.

Parr, Todd, The Best Friends Book, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Parr, Todd, It's Okay to Be Different, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Advocate, April 25, 2006, P.J. Gray, "Family Guy," p. 60.

Booklist, August, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Otto Goes to School, p. 2042; December 1, 2005, John Peters, review of Reading Makes You Feel Good, p. 55.

Children's Book Review Service, April, 1999, Leanne D. Grace, review of The Okay Book, Do's and Don'ts, This Is My Hair, and Things That Make You Feel Good/Things That Make You Feel Bad, p. 102.

Instructor, March-April, 2007, Chris Mills, interview with Parr, p. 72.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1999, review of This Is My Hair, p. 454; January 15, 2000, review of The Best Friends Book, p. 122; September 1, 2001, review of It's Okay to Be Different, p. 1298; March 15, 2006, review of The Grandpa Book, p. 298.

Publishers Weekly, April 5, 1999, review of The Okay Book, p. 243; October 2, 2000, review of Underwear Do's and Don'ts, p. 83; April 2, 2001, review of My Really Cool Baby Book, p. 66; April 23, 2001, review of Black and White, p. 80; August 27, 2001, review of It's Okay to Be Different, p. 83.

School Library Journal, May, 1999, Christy Norris Blanchette, review of Do's and Don'ts, The Okay Book, Things That Make You Feel Good/Things That Make You Feel Bad, and This Is My Hair, p. 94; August, 2000, Olga R. Barnes, review of The Best Friends Book and Zoo Do's and Don'ts, p. 162; December, 2000, Holly Belli, review of The Feelings Book and Underwear Do's and Don'ts, pp. 122-123; October, 2001, Adele Greenlee, review of It's Okay to Be Different, p. 128; May, 2002, Shawn Brommer, review of The Daddy Book and The Mommy Book, p. 124; October, 2002, Linda Ludke, review of The Feel Good Book, p. 125; July, 2003, Melinda Piehler, review of Otto Goes to Bed and Otto Goes to the Beach, p. 146; December, 2003, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of The Family Book, p. 122; October, 2004, Olga R. Kuharets, review of Otto Has a Birthday Party, p. 126; November, 2004, Blair Christolon, review of The Peace Book, p. 114; September, 2005, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Otto Goes to School, and Suzanne Myers Harold, review of Reading Makes You Feel Good, p. 184; April, 2006, Linda Staskus, review of The Grandma Book, p. 115.

ONLINE

Bookpage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (February 4, 2002), interview with Parr.

Todd Parr Home Page,http://www.toddparr.com (May 20, 2007).