Raczka, Bob 1963–

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Raczka, Bob 1963–

Personal

Born August 24, 1963, in Chicago, IL; married June 6, 1987; wife's name Amy (a home economist); children: Robert, Carl, Emma. Education: University of Illinois, B.F.A., 1985.

Addresses

Home and office—Glen Ellyn, IL. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer. Bish Creative Display, Northfield, IL, designer, 1985-87; Sears & Roebuck, Chicago, IL, copywriter, 1987; Hoffman York & Compton, Milwaukee, WI, copywriter, 1987-91; Ogilvy Chicago, creative director and writer, beginning 1991.

Member

Society of Children's Book Authors and Illustrators.

Writings

"ART ADVENTURES" SERIES

No One Saw: Ordinary Things through the Eyes of an Artist, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

More than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Art Is …, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Unlikely Pairs: Fun with Famous Works of Art, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Here's Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Where In the World?: Around the Globe in Thirteen Works of Art, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

Artful Reading, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

Name That Style: All about Isms in Art, Millbrook Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2008.

PICTURE BOOKS

Spring Things, illustrated by Judy Stead, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2007.

Who Loves the Fall?, illustrated by Judy Stead, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2007.

Snowy, Blowy Winter, illustrated by Judy Stead, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 2008.

Sidelights

Having established his career as a copywriter and creative director at a Chicago-based advertising agency, Bob Raczka now shares his enthusiasm for fine art through his "Art Adventures" series of books and talks with younger children. In More than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses, for example, he "stimulates an awareness of the breadth and diversity of art," according to Lynda Ritterman in School Library Journal. In the book Raczka encourages children to experience a work of art with all their senses, thereby gaining exposure to the many dimensions of creativity contained in a single work. He also pairs brief biographies of the artists with each work discussed, to provide a fuller context for study. Carolyn Phelan, reviewing More than Meets the Eye for Booklist, commented that "Raczka's short, rhyming text gives structure to the book, but the color reproductions of "well-chosen, vivid paintings steal the show" in a book containing "a simple concept, beautifully executed."

Raczka's No One Saw: Ordinary Things through the Eyes of an Artist also focuses on art, this time explaining what each of a number of individual artists are

known for. Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg enjoyed the book, commenting that Raczka "gets to the heart of what artists do: create unique perspectives of the world." School Library Journal reviewer Rosalyn Pierini also found the book unique, writing that in No One Saw "the singularity of artistic vision is celebrated in [Raczka's] … gentle text."

In Art Is … Raczka examines twenty-seven diverse works of art, ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings to a Greek vase and a Tiffany lamp. He also discusses the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, African-American painter and collagist Romare Bearden, and Bulgarian-born environmental artist Christo. Writing in School Library Journal, Laurie Edwards called the work "an interesting look at the forms art can take."

Raczka offers an unorthodox way to view artworks in Unlikely Pairs: Fun with Famous Works of Art. The author juxtaposes two artworks, such as Rodin's The Thinker and Paul Klee's modernistic Chessboard painting, to create an unusual and often humorous scene. School Library Journal reviewer Donna Cardon described Unlikely Pairs as "an amusing way to introduce children to famous works of art."

Self-portraits are the subject of Raczka's Here's Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves. In the work, the author explores the techniques of an eclectic group of Western artists, including German Renaissance engraver Albrecht Durer, Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, French post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, Dutch illustrator M.C. Escher, and American photographer Cindy Sherman. School Library Journal critic Wendy Lukehart praised the work, calling it a "topnotch introduction to self-portraiture," and Phelan noted that Here's Looking at Me could serve as "an intriguing starting place for children inspired (or assigned) to create their own self-portraits."

In Where in the World?: Around the Globe in Thirteen Works of Art, Raczka introduces readers to Japanese artist Hokusai's prints of Mt. Fuji, French artist Paul Gaugin's paintings of Tahiti, and American photographer Ansel Adams's studies of Mt. McKinley. Booklist

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critic Hazel Rochman applauded the "chatty, interesting text offering background on the artist," and Robin L. Gibson, writing in School Library Journal, observed that the artworks "evoke a strong sense of place." Raczka looks at such celebrated twentieth-century sculptures as Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel and Constantin Brancusi's The Kiss in 3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet. The author's "strength lies in selecting images high in child appeal and combining them in fresh, provocative ways," Lukehart stated.

Artful Reading contains a selection of paintings, including Antonello Da Messina's St. Jerome in His Study and Jacob Lawrence's The Library, that show people enjoying the act of reading. "A delightfully delivered message appears on every page of this bright, appealing" title, wrote a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Samuel Anderson Robb, Georgia O'Keefe, and Judy Chicago are among the artists featured in The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America, a collection of eighteen works that examine life in the United States.

In addition to his nonfiction titles, Raczka has written a number of picture books that celebrate the seasons. In Spring Things, the author describes changes in the weather and a host of outdoor activities by employing gerunds such as "thunderstorming" and "lemonading." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews praised the "catchy rhyming text" and Phelan observed that Raczka's "apt expressions … are sometimes childlike or inventive."

Who Loves the Fall?, another work told in verse, focuses on the pleasures of autumn, including picking apples, building bonfires, and preparing for Thanksgiving. A Kirkus Reviews critic described Raczka's work as an "action-packed, rollicking book of noun-oriented rhyme."

Raczka once told SATA: "I have always been a creative person. As a child I loved to draw and make models, and I took numerous art and writing classes in school. I studied art and advertising in college and ended up becoming an advertising writer. However, after ten years in advertising I needed a more personally fulfilling creative outlet, so I decided to try writing children's books, a field that had always impressed me with its literary and artistic talent. It took me five years to sell my first manuscript, but in the process I also found my niche: creating books that help kids to better appreciate art.

"Writing books for children is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I hope to build upon the small success I've had so far."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of No One Saw: Ordinary Things through the Eyes of an Artist, p. 861; November 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of More than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses, p. 513; May 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Here's Looking At Me: How Artists See Themselves, p. 83; November 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of 3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet, p. 66; February 15, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Spring Things, p. 86; June 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of Where In the World?: Around the Globe in Thirteen Works of Art, p. 66; February 1, 2008, Hazel Rochman, review of The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America, p. 46.

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 3, 2003, Henry Stuttley, "Book Aims to Teach Children about Art" (profile of Raczka).

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of More than Meets the Eye, p. 1313; January 15, 2007, review of Spring Things, p. 80; August 15, 2007, review of Who Loves the Fall?; September 15, 2007, review of Artful Reading.

School Arts, February, 2003, Ken Marantz, review of No One Saw, p. 58; April, 2006, Rebecca J. Martin, review of Unlikely Pairs: Fun with Famous Works of Art, p. 62.

School Library Journal, January, 2002, Rosalyn Pierini, review of No One Saw, p. 123; October, 2003, Laurie Edwards, review of Art Is …, p. 156; January, 2004, Lynda Ritterman, review of More than Meets the Eye, p. 121; December, 2005, Donna Cardon, review of Unlikely Pairs, p. 172; June, 2006, Wendy Lukehart, review of Here's Looking at Me, p. 184; November, 2006, Wendy Lukehart, review of 3-D ABC, p. 123; March, 2007, June Wolfe, review of Spring Things, p. 184; August, 2007, Robin L. Gibson, review of Where in the World?, p. 138; September, 2007, Barbara Katz, review of Who Loves the Fall?, p. 174; February, 2008, Heidi Estrin, review of The Art of Freedom, p. 108.

ONLINE

Bob Raczka Home Page,http://www.bobraczka.com (July 7, 2008).

Society of Children's Book Authors and Illustrators—Illinois Web site,http://www.scbwi-illinois.org/ (July 6, 2005), "Bob Raczka."