Born in CA. Education: University of Georgia, B.A.
Home and office—Atlanta, GA. E-mail—[email protected]
Paleoartist and author. Creator of sculptures of dinosaurs for various museums. Rock Eagle Natural History Museum, Eatonton, GA, exhibits coordinator; Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, GA, exhibit designer/fabricator; Mackie's World T. Rex, Grand Rapids, MI, designer/fabricator.
Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers nomination, Young Adult Library Services Association, New York Public Library Top 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing designation, and CYBILS Literary Award nomination in nonfiction category, all 2006, all for Tales of the Cryptids.
Kelly Milner Halls, Dino-Trekking: The Ultimate Dinosaur Lover's Travel Guide, Wiley (New York, NY), 1996.
Kelly Milner Halls, Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bones Fossils, Darby Creek (Plain City, OH), 2003.
Kelly Milner Halls and Roxyanne Young, Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist, Darby Creek (Plain City, OH), 2006.
Contributor of illustrations to books, including Guys Write for Guys Read, by Jon Sciezska, and to magazines, including Dinosaurus, Dig, Child Life, Family Fun, and AMNH Ology.
Rick Spears fell in love with dinosaurs when he was a child. Although he moved on and cycled through several other childhood interests, his love for dinosaurs returned while Spears was attending college, and it was then that he began doing what he calls "paleoart": the art of dinosaurs. As a paleoartist, Spears coordinates exhibits, creates sculptures depicting what dinosaurs may have actually looked like, and provides illustrations to magazines, books, and museum exhibits. His work in children's literature began in the early 1990s, when he was contacted by children's author Kelly Milner Halls. "I met Rick Spears … when I was researching Dino-Trekking: The Ultimate Dinosaur Lover's Travel Guide and needed a dinosaur expert for the state of Georgia," Halls recalled on her home page. The first person she contacted recommended her to Spears, saying: "When it comes to dinosaurs, Rick is the man." Halls and Spears hit it off, and together they have collaborated on several books, including two titles that focus exclusively on dinosaurs.
The first collaboration by Halls and Spears resulted in Dino-Trekking. Geared for dinosaur lovers, Dino-Trekking offers details of dinosaur related sites in all
fifty United States and Canada. From museums to parks to exhibits, Hall and Spears' guide covers where the sites are and what things there are to do while you are there. It then rates the site's fun factor on a scale of from one to three bones. A Publishers Weekly critic called the listing of sites "exhaustive"
In Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bones Fossils, Halls and Spears to take paleontology beyond mere bones. They reveal what can be learned from looking at the remains of skin, organs, and even dinosaur dung. "Young dinosaur fans will latch onto this heavily illustrated report like starving velociraptors at a picnic," predicted a Kirkus Reviews contributor of the title. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, noted that Spears' watercolor-washed "drawings … show how the dinosaurs might have looked."
Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist departs from dinosaur fact to introduce creatures from myth and legend. Some of these, like the nightmarish giant squid, have been found to have their roots in real creatures. "Plenty of small watercolor and pencil sketches from Spears flesh out a scant assortment of blurry photos," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. Patricia Manning, reviewing Tales of the Cryptids for School Library Journal, noted that the "plethora of … photos and drawings in both color and black and white … will prove enticing." Tales of the Cryptids was selected as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers by the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association.
In a discussion with Halls in Child Life, Spears explained how he designs his dinosaurs. "You must use your imagination to create something real," he explained. "They are a cross between fact and imagination." "If I had my way," Spears added, "I'd build a dinosaur park and museum where you would feel like you were actually in the prehistoric past."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, November 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bones Fossils, p. 492; November 15, 2006, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May or May Not Exist, p. 45.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2003, Elizabeth Bush, review of Dinosaur Mummies, p. 61.
Child Life, April-May, 1996, Kelly Milner Halls, interview with Spears.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1993, review of Dinosaur Mummies, p. 1017; August 15, 2006, review of Tale of the Cryptids, p. 72.
Library Media Connection, February, 2004, review of Dinosaur Mummies, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, January 22, 1996, review of Dino-Trekking: The Ultimate Dinosaur-Lover's Travel Guide, p. 74.
School Library Journal, March, 1996, Cathryn A. Camper, review of Dino-Trekking, p. 209; December, 2003, Steven Engelfried, review of Dinosaur Mummies, p. 168; December, 2006, Patricia Manning, review of Tales of the Cryptids, p. 163.
Dinosaur Mummy Web site,http://www.dinosaurmummy.com/ (August 6, 2007).
Kelly Milner Halls Home Page,http://kellymilnerhalls.com/ (August 6, 2007).
Tale of the Cryptids Web site,http://www.talesofthecryptids.com/ (August 6, 2007).