Reynolds, Peter H. 1961-

views updated

Reynolds, Peter H. 1961-


Born March 16, 1961, in Weston, Ontario, Canada; son of Keith H. (a treasurer) and Hazel E. (a bookkeeper) Reynolds; children: Sarah. Education: Attended Fitchburg State College, 1978-83, and Massachusetts College of Art, 1979-80.


Office—The Blue Bunny, 577 High St., Dedham, MA 02026. Agent—Pippin Properties, 155 E. 38th St., Ste. 2H, New York, NY 10016.


Tom Snyder Productions, Cambridge, MA, vice president and creative director, for thirteen years; FableVision Studios, Boston, MA, cofounder (with brother, Paul Reynolds) and creative director. Creative Journey Retreat, founder and organizer; speaker at events.

Awards, Honors

Media and Methods Excellence in Education Award, Parenting magazine award, Parents' Choice Award, Educom Distinguished Software award, and Technology and Learning Award of Excellence, for work on Tom Snyder Productions projects; Telly Award second place, ASIFA-East, and BDA International Design Silver Award, both for The Blue Shoe; ASIFA-East third-place honor and ASIFA-Hollywood Annie nomination, both 1999, both for Living Forever; National Education Association Top 100 Books listee, 2000, for The North Star; named Shaper of the Future 2000, Converge magazine; Christopher Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, Irma S. and James H. Black Honor Book, Bank Street College of Education, Chicago Public Library Best Book designation, and Chapman Award for Best Classroom Read-aloud, all 2004, all for The Dot.



Fizz and Martina in the Incredible Not-for-Profit Pet Resort Mystery, Tom Snyder Productions (Watertown, MA), 1993.

The North Star, FableVision Press (Watertown, MA), 1997.

(With Sue Pandiani) North Star Inspiration for the Classroom, FableVision Press (Watertown, MA), 1999.

Sydney's Star, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.

The Dot, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Ish, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

So Few of Me, Candlewick Press (New York, NY), 2006.

The Best Kid in the World, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.

Has created more than twenty interactive children's stories for the online service Prodigy, including The Three Wolf Architects, The Adventures of Pewter Pan, Snow White and the Seven Accounts, Hilary and the Beast, and The Gingerbread Channel.


Megan McDonald, Judy Moody, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.

Donald H. Graves, The Portfolio Standard, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 2000.

Tobi Tobias, Serendipity, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody Gets Famous!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody Saves the World, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Ellen Potter, Olivia Kidney, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody Predicts the Future, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody, M.D.: The Doctor Is In!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody Declares Independence, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Ellen Potter, Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Megan McDonald, Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody's Double-Rare Way-Not-Boring Book of Fun Stuff to Do, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Megan McDonald, Judy Moody: Around the World in 8 1/2 Days, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Megan McDonald, Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Megan McDonald, Stink and the World's Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2007.

Alison McGhee, Someday, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2007.

Also illustrator of texts and book covers for other children's books.


Ish was adapted for video, Weston Woods, 2005.


An author, illustrator, designer, filmmaker, and motivational speaker, Peter H. Reynolds began his career in advertising, but quickly moved on to become a pivotal player in Tom Snyder Productions, one of the early computer software companies specializing in educational products. As creative director, author, and/or artist, Reynolds contributed to the firm's short films, public service announcements, interactive software programs, and online stories, all with a goal of encouraging creativity in young people while making learning fun. Reynolds' view of life as a journey of learning is detailed in his book The North Star, a work that eventually inspired a guidebook for teachers interested in bringing the North Star approach into their classrooms. Earning respect for his inspiring picture books such as The Dot and Ish, Reynolds is also the cofounder, with twin brother Paul Reynolds, of the educational media company FableVision.

In The Dot Reynolds focuses on Vashti, a young girl who seems to have no natural artistic ability. However, when she completes a drawing assignment by marking her paper with one single dot, Vashti's clever art teacher expresses enthusiasm, asks Vashti to sign her work, and hangs it prominently in the classroom. Soon, Vashti is making all sizes, colors, and patterns of dots, and when a little boy has the same frustration over a lack of drawing skill the girl takes on the role of encouraging teacher in reaction to his own simple, unschooled mark. A similar tale is the focus of Ish, in which Ramon loves to draw anywhere and any time, until teasing from his older brother makes Ramon yield to his inner critic. Discarding drawing after drawing, the boy soon discovers that his little sister sees something special in Ramon's un-realistic pictures, giving the budding artist renewed confidence.

Calling The Dot "simplicity itself," Ilene Cooper added in her Booklist review that Reynolds' "small book carries a big message." According to School Library Journal reviewer Kathy Krasniewicz, in The Dot Reynolds pairs spare, gestured images rendered in "fluid pen-and-ink, watercolor, and tea" with a simple text to recount a journey "of self-expression, artistic experimentation, and success," while a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that Ish "may speak to formerly artistic young readers who are selling their own abilities short." A Publishers Weekly contributor also praised Ish, noting that the author/illustrator's "minimalist pen-and-ink illustrations" bring to life the book's "tidy lesson in the importance of … drawing … outside the box and believing in one's own abilities despite others' reactions." As Cooper noted in Booklist, the "great emotion and warmth" in Ish will appeal to young children, while a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that Reynolds' book "will encourage other little artists."

Reynolds packs a message relevant to adults as well as children in So Few of Me. Poor Leo is a busy boy, and when he wishes the wish of all very-busy people—that there was another "him" to help get everything on his to-do list completed—he gets his wish. Soon, in fact, ten Leos crowd the page, each one rushing to get something done. All those Leos need supervision, however, and after a time the original young boy decides that perhaps one Leo is quite enough. Citing Reynolds' characteristic simple line-and-wash art, a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the book's "spare portraits glow amid backgrounds that are softly colored yet clearly defined and set against crisp, white space." According to a Publishers

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Weekly contributor, So Few of Me is "an engaging and eye-opening tale for over-programmed kids and the adults who set their schedules."

My Very Big Little World and The Best Kid in the World highlight the relationship between Sugarloaf and Spoke, two siblings in a close-knit family, as they deal with typical events and feelings. In My Very Big Little World readers meet toddler Sugarloaf, who lives in the shadow of her likeable older brother Spoke. Sibling jealousy is the focus of The Best Kid in the World, which finds Sugarloaf jealous after Spoke returns home from at school with a special medal acknowledging his helpfulness. Praising Reynolds' "clear, simple sentences" in her School Library Journal review of The Best Kid in the World,, Linda L. Watkins added that the author/illustrator's "breezy watercolor illustrations depict the child's undertakings with humor and charm." A Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that the book's "watercolor characters are delightfully expressive."

Reynolds' first illustration project, creating art for Megan McDonald's Judy Moody, was welcomed as the inaugural appearance of a likeable new heroine for first readers. The book's third-grade title character approaches the first day of school with some trepidation, and things only get worse when she finds herself assigned to the desk next to a boy well known for his habit of eating paste. McDonald's ability to capture both the way children think and the way they talk makes for an entertaining read, remarked Shelle Rosenfeld in a review of Booklist, adding that children will "also like the witty, detailed drawings (especially the picture of Judy's unique collage)." Janice M. Del Negro, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, similarly commented: "Each chapter is amiably illustrated with … full-page and spot art that extends the friendly feeling of the humorous text."

Reynolds has gone on to illustrate several more "Judy Moody" books, as well as several books by McDonald that focus on Judy's seven-year-old sibling Stinky Moody. He has also contributed art to Alison McGhee's Someday and Tobi Tobias's Serendipity, the latter a picture book that defines the tongue-twisting word of the title with both humor and sentimentality, according to critics. In Serendipity "Reynolds provides sweetnatured and airy watercolor and ink cartoons," according to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, while Sue Sherif wrote in School Library Journal that "teachers will undoubtedly use [Serendipity] … as a starting point for writing exercises." Reynolds' ink and watercolor images for Someday "have the same soft sentimentality" as McGhee's story, noted Carolyn Janssen in School Library Journal, and a Publishers Weekly contributor praised the author/illustrator's "spare, wispy pen-and-ink and watercolor" art.

On his home page, Reynolds explained that the inspiration behind his work as an author and illustrator of picture books was a math teacher named Mr. Matson.

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

When Mr. Matson discovered Reynolds doodling during math class, instead of punishing the young student he gave him a job: to combine his art skills and storytelling to make a comic book that illustrated math concepts. "My journey has been dedicated to helping kids, especially the ‘off the path’ kids," Reynolds explained. "I was one of them myself. Not every student is lucky enough to have a teacher, or adult, see his or her potential."

"When I visit students in schools they ask me what my hobbies are. I say thinking, dreaming. If my art and stories can help inspire others to do the same, I'll feel my life had meaning."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, July, 2000, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Judy Moody, pp. 2028, 2030; December 15, 2001, Todd Morning, review of Sydney's Star, p. 741; November 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Dot, p. 513; November 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Ish, p. 498.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 2000, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Judy Moody, pp. 324-325.

Horn Book, September, 2001, review of Judy Moody Gets Famous!, p. 589.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2001, review of Sydney's Star, p. 1432; October 1, 2003, review of The Dot, p. 1229; July 15, 2004, review of Ish, p. 693; August 1, 2006, review of So Few of Me, p. 795.

Publishers Weekly, April 17, 2000, review of Judy Moody, p. 81; August 28, 2000, review of Serendipity, p. 82; July 30, 2001, review of Judy Moody Gets Famous!, p. 85; November 12, 2001, review of Sydney's Star, p. 59; October 20, 2003, review of The Dot, p. 54; October 11, 2004, review of Ish, p. 79; October 16, 2006, review of So Few of Me, p. 51; February 12, 2007, review of Someday, p. 84.

School Library Journal, July, 2000, Janie Schomberg, review of Judy Moody, p. 83; Sue Sherif, November, 2000, review of Serendipity, p. 135; October, 2001, Sharon R. Pearce, review of Judy Moody Gets Famous!, p. 124; December, 2001, Maryann H. Owen, review of Sydney's Star, p. 110; November, 2003, Kathy Krasniewicz, review of The Dot, p. 114; July, 2004, Lisa G. Kropp, review of The Dot, p. 44; January, 2005, Shawn Brommer, review of Ish, p. 97; May, 2005, Caroline Ward, review of Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy, 138; July, 2006, Sharon Rawlins, review of The Dot, p. 86; August, 2006, Linda L. Walkins, review of The Best Kid in the World, p. 96; December, 2006, review of So Few of Me, p. 114; March, 2007, Carolyn Janssen, review of Someday, p. 176.


Digital MASS, (April, 2000), Tim Allik, "Peter Reynolds, FableVision: He Hasn't Forgotten the ‘Little’ People."

FableVision Web site, (February 2, 2002), "Peter Reynolds."

Peter H. Reynolds Home Page, (June 15, 2007).

About this article

Reynolds, Peter H. 1961-

Updated About content Print Article