Rex, Adam

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Rex, Adam


Married; wife an astrophysicist. Education: University of Arizona, B.F.A. (illustration).


Home—Philadelphia, PA. Agent—Steve Malk, Writers House, 21 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected].


Author and illustrator. Creator of card art.

Awards, Honors

Golden Kite Award, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Parents' Choice Gold Medal, and International Reading Association (IRA) Notable Book selection, all 2004, all for The Dirty Cowboy; Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist, 2005; IRA Notable Book selection, 2006, for Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-comin'!



Amy Timberlake, The Dirty Cowboy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2003.

Katy Kelly, Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing about Me, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2004.

Jill Esbaum, Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-comin!, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.

Katy Kelly, Lucy Rose: Big on Plans, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2005.

Katy Kelly, Lucy Rose: Busy like You Can't Believe, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2006.

Elvira Woodruff, Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.


Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich; and Other Stories You're Sure to Like, Because They're All about Monsters, And Some of Them Are Also about Food. You Like Food, Don't You? Well, All Right, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.

Tree-ring Circus, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.

Pssst!, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.

The True Meaning of Smekday (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Frankenstein Takes the Cake, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2008.


Author of Editpus Rex Blog, located at Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Amazing Stories, Cricket, and Spider. Illustrator of books used in role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons, Forgotten Realms, and Magic: The Gathering.


Adam Rex is an award-winning illustrator of such children's books as The Dirty Cowboy and Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara. In addition, Rex has published a number of humorous self-illustrated works, including Pssst!, which features a youngster's visit to an unusual zoo, and The True Meaning of Smekday, a middle-grade novel about the alien conquest of Earth. "I think I write first and foremost for myself," Rex stated in an interview on the Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast Web site. He added, "I just kind of trust that if I write something that I find compelling or funny, and it's appropriate for kids in tone and language, that some kids will find it compelling or funny, too."

Rex developed an interest in children's literature as a teenager, while working at a bookstore. "I was hearing about Lane Smith, William Joyce, Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, and so forth," he told Kelly R. Fineman on the Writing and Ruminating Web site. "The market seemed so utterly different from the books I remembered from my childhood. These were very vibrant, painterly, irreverent …. So at sixteen or seventeen I decided picture books might be a way to reconcile my love of making pictures and inventing stories."

Rex made his literary debut in 2003, providing the illustrations for Amy Timberlake's The Dirty Cowboy. In the work, a filthy cowpoke heads to the river for his annual bath, leaving his faithful dog to guard his clothes. When the canine doesn't recognize his sweet-swelling owner, however, a raucous battle for the duds ensues. "Rex's rich paintings add sparkle to the story's dramatic telling," noted Booklist contributor Todd Morning, and a Publishers Weekly reviewer applauded the artist's "farcical golden-and copper-toned illustrations, which call to mind the tall-tale humor of Andrew Glass."

Based on a passage from Mark Twain's memoir Life on the Mississippi, Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-comin!, written by Jill Esbaum, describes the excitement surrounding the arrival of a steamship in a small river town. "Rex depicts the hubbub with Norman Rockwell-esque realism," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. Elvira Woodruff's Small Beauties concerns Darcy Heart O'Hara, an Irish lass who immigrates to North America with her family after their potato crop fails. Rex's illustrations "are strongly designed, with good use of the golden light of mist, memory and longing," noted a contributor in Kirkus Reviews. "Rich in detail of the Irish landscape," commented Lee Bock in School Library Journal, "the art gives a deeper understanding of this powerful story."

In 2006 Rex published his first self-illustrated work, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, a collection of poems that spoofs famous Hollywood monsters such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Count Dracula. "Rex demonstrates a dizzying yet fitting variety of artistic styles, layouts and lettering," a Publishers Weekly critic stated. "Some of the styles were chosen because they just seemed natural for the poem in question," the illustrator remarked on the Harcourt Books Web site. "‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Henderson,’ for example, takes place largely at a society ball, so I tried my best to imitate the look of turn-of-the-[twentieth-]century century fashion and society artists like Charles Dana Gibson." According to Bock, Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich "is fresh, creative, and funny, with just enough gory detail to cause a few gasps."

In the cumulative rhyming tale Tree-ring Circus, a fast-growing tree provides shelter for a bevy of forest creatures and escaped circus animals. Debbie Stewart Hoskins, writing in School Library Journal, described Rex's self-illustrated story as "carefully designed, humorously detailed, and appropriately silly." A young girl receives a host of strange requests from the residents of her local zoo in Pssst!, a "gleefully postmodern romp," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly stated that Rex "conveys [the animals'] personalities with an astringent attitude and a refreshing brake on the cuteness" and deemed the work "a very funny excursion."

In Rex's illustrated middle-grade novel The True Meaning of Smekday, eleven-year-old Gratuity Tucci joins forces with renegade alien J. Lo to rescue the youngster's mother from the Boov, a race of extraterrestrials hoping to force all humans to live on reservations in Florida. School Library Journal critic Jane Henriksen Baird praised Rex's "imaginative, wacky, hilarious sci-fi story," and Lisa Von Drasek, writing in the New York Times Book Review, predicted that the tale "will captivate fans of the wordplay and characters in Terry Pratchett's ‘Discworld’ [series] and of the outrageously entertaining satire of Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 2003, Todd Morning, review of The Dirty Cowboy, p. 131; November 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Lucy Rose: Here's the Thing about Me, p. 485; October 15, 2006, Kay Weisman, review of Lucy Rose: Busy like You Can't Believe, p. 44; October 1, 2007, Jennifer Hubert, review of The True Meaning of Smekday, p. 59.

Horn Book, November-December, 2007, Tanya D. Auger, review of The True Meaning of Smekday, p. 685.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2003, review of The Dirty Cowboy, p. 865; March 15, 2005, review of Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-comin!, p. 350; June 1, 2005, review of Lucy Rose: Big on Plans, p. 638; June 1, 2006, review of Tree-ring Circus, p. 579; August 1, 2006, review of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, p. 795; August 15, 2006, review of Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O'Hara, p. 854; August 1, 2007, review of Pssst!

New York Times Book Review, November 11, 2007, Lisa Von Drasek, "Me and My Alien," review of The True Meaning of Smekday.

Publishers Weekly, July 14, 2003, review of The Dirty Cowboy, p. 75; July 10, 2006, review of Tree-ringCircus, p. 80; August 28, 2006, review of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, p. 53; September 10, 2007, review of Pssst!, p. 59; October 1, 2007, review of The True Meaning of Smekday, p. 57.

School Library Journal, March, 2005, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-comin!, p. 170; September, 2006, Lee Bock, review of Small Beauties, p. 188, and review of Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, p. 196; October, 2006, Shawn Brommer, review of Lucy Rose: Busy like You Can't Believe, p. 114, and Debbie Stewart Hoskins, review of Tree-ring Circus, p. 124; November, 2007, Rick Margolis, "Adam Rex: Space Cadet," p. 37, and Jane Henriksen Baird, review of The True Meaning of Smekday, p. 135.


Adam Rex Home Page, (December 20, 2007).

Editpus Rex Blog site, (December 20, 2007).

Harcourt Book Web site, (December 20, 2007), interview with Rex.

Ironic Sans Web site, (September 5, 2006), David Friedman, interview with Rex.

Nerds with Kids Web site, (August 29, 2007), Doug Slack, interview with Rex.

Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast Web site, (September 6, 2007), Eisha and Julie Danielson, interview with Rex.

Tiny Treasury Web site, (April 26, 2007), "Friday Fifteen: Adam Rex."

Writing and Ruminating Web site, (March 1, 2007), Kelly R. Fineman, interview with Rex.