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Robertson, M.P. 1965- (Mark Robertson)

Robertson, M.P. 1965- (Mark Robertson)

Personal

Born 1965, in London, England; partner of Sophy Williams (an illustrator); children: two sons. Education: Attended Hounslow Borough College; Kingston Polytechnic, degree.

Addresses

Home and office—Bradford on Avon, England.

Career

Writer and illustrator.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

(With Meredith Hooper) The Endurance: Shackleton's Perilous Expedition in Antarctica, Abbeville (New York, NY), 2001.

The Egg, Phyllis Fogelman (New York, NY), 2001.

The Sandcastle, Rising Moon (Flagstaff, AZ), 2001.

The Great Dragon Rescue, Dial (New York, NY), 2004.

The Moon in Swampland, Frances Lincoln (London, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

The Dragon Snatcher, Dial (New York, NY), 2005.

Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets, Frances Lincoln (London, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Big Brave Brian, Frances Lincoln (London, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

Dragon and the Gruesome Twosome, Frances Lincoln (London, Ontario, Canada), 2008.

ILLUSTRATOR

Dragons: A Pop-up Book of Fantastic Adventures, Harry Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.

Adèle Geras, Cleopatra, Kingfisher (New York, NY), 2007.

Sidelights

M.P. Robertson was never particularly good at school. According to the Love Reading 4 Kids Web site, Robertson slept through most of school, only barely managing to get good enough grades to go on to study art at college. After leaving one college, he graduated from Kingston Polytechnic with a degree in illustration. He has been writing and illustrating children's books ever since.

Several of Robertson's titles feature tales about a boy named George and a dragon that hatches after being mothered by a hen. In The Egg George first sees a hen sitting atop a huge golden-brown egg, and he knows that this is no normal chicken egg. He brings the egg inside his home and hatches it himself, discovering the dragon inside. A Publishers Weekly critic commented on the author/illustrator's "delicate, detail-rich watercolors," and Lisa Gangemi Kropp noted in School Library Journal that The Egg is "a beautifully written fantasy with luminous, richly hued artwork that is as evocative as the text."

The adventures of George and the dragon continue in The Great Dragon Rescue, as the dragon is captured by a witch who lives in a dark, dark forest. In order to save his fire-breathing friend, George must beat the witch in a flying race around an enchanted castle. Although a Kirkus Reviews contributor found the book to be "lushly illustrated," the text was less successful. In School Library Journal Maryann H. Owen also found Robertson's story lacking, but approving of the "colorful, well-imagined artwork." While sharing a similar opinion of The Great Dragon Rescue, Gillian Engberg commented in Booklist that "Robertson's watercolor illustrations are a delight" that weighs out the book's negatives.

The Dragon Snatcher continues to chronicle George's adventures with "arresting, dramatically angled paintings featuring big, leathery dragons," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In this adventure, a wizard is keeping dragon eggs captive. George tries to save the final egg that has not been captured, only to have the dragon hatch during the battle. The young dragon makes such an impression on the wizard that the man's heart melts, allowing all of the other dragon eggs are freed to hatch. Robertson's "expansive illustrations … more than make up for any holes in the plot," wrote Kara Schaff Dean in School Library Journal, while in Booklist Jennifer Mattson noted that the series offers an "epic-fantasy experience in a form that is far more manageable" to reluctant readers than those in novels designed for older readers.

Like George, the main character in Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets has a way with magical animals. From a slugapotamus to a porcupython, the mixed-up creatures that share Hieronymus's home are each worse than the last, until finally Hieronymus shows the weirdest creature of all: his younger brother. When the two conclude an adventure together, Hieronymus decides that his brother is actually more fun than any of his pets. "With its repetitive language and imaginative names, [Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets] … is great for reading aloud," wrote Suzanne Myers Harold in School Library Journal, noting that Robertson's book would be especially well-liked by older sib-

lings. A Publishers Weekly critic noted that "the weird hybrids and monstrosities in Hieronymus's stable are hilariously imagined."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of The Great Dragon Rescue, p. 662; December 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Dragon Snatcher, p. 57.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2004, review of The Great Dragon Rescue, p. 919; October 15, 2004, review of The Moon in Swampland, p. 1013; October 1, 2005, review of The Dragon Snatcher, p. 1987; September 15, 2007, review of Big Brave Brian; October 1, 2007, review of Cleopatra.

Publishers Weekly, December 11, 2000, review of The Egg, p. 84; December 12, 2005, review of Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets, p. 65.

School Library Journal, January, 2001, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of The Egg, p. 107; July, 2001, Lisa Gangemi, review of The Sandcastle, p. 87; January, 2005, Maryann H. Owen, review of The Great Dragon Rescue, p. 97; October, 2005, Kara Schaff Dean, review of The Dragon Snatcher, p. 126; February, 2006, Suzanne Myers Harold, review of Hieronymus Betts and His Unusual Pets, p. 109; June, 2009, Clare A. Dombrowski, review of Cleopatra, p. 123.

ONLINE

Love Reading 4 Kids Web site,http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/ (February 25, 2009), "M.P. Robertson."

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