Male. Education: School of Visual Arts, B.F.A.
Home—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
Author and illustrator. Formerly worked as a commercial artist; freelance picture book illustrator, 1995—.
The Painting Gorilla, Holt (New York, NY), 1997.
Who Digs?, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 1999.
My Fire Engine, Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
Who Builds?, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 1999.
My Race Car, Holt (New York, NY), 2000.
Brooms Are for Flying!, Holt (New York, NY), 2000.
The Pie Is Cherry, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
Where Can Bunny Paint?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
The Mud Monster's Halloween, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
My Freight Train, Holt (New York, NY), 2002.
Santa's Busy Night, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
The Tooth Fairy, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
Firefighter, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Scarecrow, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Pals, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Truck Duck, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Dunk Skunk, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.
You Can Do Anything, Daddy!, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
Goodnight Goon, Putnam (New York, NY), 2008.
David Getz, Floating Home, Holt (New York, NY), 1997.
Bettina Ling, The Fattest, Tallest, Biggest Snowman Ever, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
Helena Clare Pittman, Sunrise, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Jonathan London, Wiggle Waggle, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1999.
Jonathan London, Snuggle Wuggle, Silver Whistle (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Jonathan London, Crunch Munch, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Franklyn Branley, Sunshine Makes the Seasons, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Stuart J. Murphy, Jack the Builder, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Author and illustrator Michael Rex grew up in Chatham, New Jersey, where, during high school, he took classes in commercial art at the local vocational college. The program inspired him to continue with his art by earn- ing a B.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Rex's career has largely involved illustration, and in 1995 he began illustrating picture books for children.
Rex's has collaborated with such writers as David Getz and Jonathan London. Writing in Booklist, Lauren Peterson appraised Rex's work for his picture-book debut, illustrating Getz's Floating Home, and noted that his "colorful cartoon illustrations enhance the humorous aspects of the story." In the same periodical, Ellen Mandel described his work for Helena Clare Pittman's Sunrise as "colorful, simple, humorous, and effective."
Working with London, Rex has illustrated Wiggle Waggle, a book that encourages readers to move along with the text; Snuggle Wuggle, a bedtime story; and Crunch Munch, a book about the noises animals make when they eat. His colored-pencil art in Wiggle Waggle are "just the right size for a group to focus on," according to Booklist critic Ilene Cooper. In Snuggle Wuggle, Rex's "large-scale, shaded pencil drawings … create strong, clear images of animals and their young," wrote Carolyn Phelan in Booklist.
Along with the books he has illustrated for other writers, Rex has published several original self-illustrated picture books. In The Painting Gorilla Rex tells the story of a gorilla who becomes rich and famous from her paintings at the zoo. Her zoo friends give her advice on how to spend her money, and her decision creates what Susan Dove Lempke called a "satisfying conclusion to this simple story" in her Booklist review.
Rex has also created two series of concept books, one focusing on workers and the other focusing on vehicles. Who Builds? examines the people who construct skyscrapers and satellites, while Who Digs? introduces miners and paleontologists. Both have "lift-the-flap" designs that allow young readers to explore the content. Turning to vehicles, My Fire Engine features a young narrator pretending to be a firefighter. "Rex's simple cartoon illustrations blaze with intense greens, blues, and fire color," wrote John Peters in Booklist. My Race Car likewise features a narrator pretending to be a race car driver. Gillian Engberg, also writing in Booklist, called the title "a great choice for young race car enthusiasts who are beginning to read on their own." In Publishers Weekly, a contributor noted that the "economic" text is "liberally sprinkled with fun facts." The young narrator of My Freight Train describes the types of cars and cargo found on trains. "The amount of activity on each page keeps the story vibrant," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic of Rex's work, and Susan Marie Pitard wrote in School Library Journal that "illustrations of each type of car are colorful and distinct, and all of the pictures are packed with energy and movement."
Brooms Are for Flying! is a Halloween title in which Rex features common Halloween items such as masks, pumpkins, and skeletons, and describes how they are used during the holiday. According to a Horn Book
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critic, "the energetic movements throughout are preschooler-perfect." Linda M. Kenton, who noted in her School Library Journal appraisal that the children featured in the book represent a wide variety of ethnicities, dubbed Brooms Are For Flying "a delightful way for pre-schoolers to enjoy Halloween."
The Pie Is Cherry describes a busy day in the kitchen. "There are lots of colorful details and backgrounds in the well-stocked kitchen," a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted, while in Publishers Weekly a critic concluded that "Rex has a winning eye for domestic detail."
Animals and vehicles are the stars of Truck Duck. Boats, blimps, and cars fill the pages, each driven by a different type of creature. "Rex's bright, engaging style suits this simple concept book," wrote Lauralyn Persson in School Library Journal, while Booklist critic Hazel Rochman called the work "exciting read-aloud stuff." Rex "adds just enough detail to tempt young viewers to linger lovingly," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Featuring sports instead of vehicles, Rex's Dunk Skunk depicts animals playing soccer, football, and basketball. "The action, the bright colors and the rhyming sounds add up to a winner," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews.
You Can Do Anything, Daddy! is the picture-book tale of a father who describes how he would rescue his son from any type of monster, pirate, or robot that stood in
his way. Once rescued, the son describes how he would bring his father back to health after their adventures, using supplies such as bandages and apple juice. While the book fits in with others on the theme of parental love, "breaks new ground … by depicting both sides of the parent-child relationship," Rachael Vilmar pointed out in her School Library Journal review. "Rex effectively captures a preschool imagination, and his blocky illustrations … are full of little jokes," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, and a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed You Can Do Anything, Daddy! "good, goofy fun, and an ultimately heartwarming homage to the father-son bond."
On his home page, Rex talked about his work on books for young children. "What I love about picture books to this day, is that there is no set style," he wrote. "Anything goes. The more unique the style, the better."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 1, 1997, Lauren Peterson, review of Floating Home, p. 1501; December, 1997, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Painting Gorilla, p. 643; December 1, 1998, Ellen Mandel, review of Sunrise, p. 672; March 15, 1999, John Peters, review of My Fire Engine, p. 1334; May 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Who Builds? p. 1601; May 15, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of Wiggle Waggle, p. 1703; March 15, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Snuggle Wuggle, p. 1388; May 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of My Race Car, p. 1675; November 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of My Freight Train, p. 612; January 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Truck Duck, p. 882; January 1, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Jack the Builder, p. 105; January 1, 2007, Todd Morning, review of You Can Do Anything, Daddy!, p. 116.
Horn Book, September, 2000, review of Brooms Are for Flying!, p. 554.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of The Pie Is Cherry, p. 1220; August 15, 2002, review of My Freight Train, p. 1234; November 15, 2003, review of Truck Duck, p. 1363; February 1, 2005, review of Dunk Skunk, p. 181; January 15, 2007, review of You Can Do Anything, Daddy!, p. 80.
Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1998, review of Sunrise, p. 88; May 3, 1999, review of Wiggle Waggle, p. 74; May 8, 2000, review of My Race Car, p. 220; September 25, 2000, Elizabeth Devereaux, review of Brooms Are for Flying!, p. 62; August 20, 2001, review of The Pie Is Cherry, p. 78; February 25, 2002, review of Wiggle Waggle, Snuggle Wuggle, and Crunch Munch, p. 68; September 16, 2002, "Get up and Go," p. 71; March 12, 2007, review of You Can Do Anything, Daddy!, p. 57.
School Library Journal, May, 2000, Susan M. Moore, review of Snuggle Wuggle, p. 148; July, 2000, John Sigwald, review of My Race Car, p. 86; September, 2000, Linda M. Kenton, review of Brooms Are for Flying!, p. 207; April, 2001, Meghan R. Malone, review of Crunch Munch, p. 117; November, 2002, Susan Marie Pitard, review of My Freight Train, p. 134; January, 2004, Lauralyn Persson, review of Truck Duck, p. 104; April, 2005, Julie Roach, review of Dunk Skunk, p. 110; March, 2007, Rachael Vilmar, review of You Can Do Anything, Daddy!, p. 185.
Michael Rex Home Page,http://www.michaelrex.com (July 1, 2008).
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (July 1, 2008), "Michael Rex."