Yaccarino, Dan 1965-

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Yaccarino, Dan 1965-

Personal

Born May 20, 1965, in Monclair, NJ; married; children: two. Education: Parsons School of Design, B.F.A., 1987.

Addresses

Home and office—New York, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Illustrator, artist, author, animator, and producer. Created art for advertising campaigns, including Cotton, Inc., AT&T, Gardenburger, Sony, and Nikkei. Exhibitions: Sculptures and large-scale paintings exhibited in galleries in New York, NY; Tokyo, Japan; Los Angeles, CA; and Rome, Italy.

Awards, Honors

ADDE Award, Society of Illustrators—Los Angeles; AIGA Award, Association of Educational Publishers; Parent's Choice Award; American Library Association Notable Book designation and Parent Guide award; illustration awards from Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and American Illustration; invited to read his books at 2002 Easter festivities at the White House; New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Books, 2007, for Every Friday.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN

Big Brother Mike, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1993.

If I Had a Robot, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

An Octopus Followed Me Home, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

Good Night, Mr. Night, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm off to the Moon, Scholastic, Inc. (New York, NY), 1997.

Five Little Pumpkins, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 1998.

Deep in the Jungle, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2000.

Oswald, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2001.

Unlovable, Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

So Big!, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2001.

I Met a Bear, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2002.

Dan Yaccarino's Mother Goose, Little Golden Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Where the Four Winds Blow, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Oswald, Simon Spotlight (New York, NY), 2004.

Good Night, Mr. Night, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2004.

The Birthday Fish, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.

Five Little Ducks, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2005.

The 12 Days of Christmas, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2005.

Every Friday, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2007.

Go, Go America, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2008.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2009.

FOR CHILDREN

The Lima Bean Monster, illustrated by Adam McCauley, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2001.

Oswald's Sleepover, illustrated by Gregg Schigiel, Simon Spotlight (New York, NY), 2003.

Oswald's Camping Trip, illustrated by Jennifer Oxley, Simon Spotlight (New York, NY), 2003.

A Little Nap, illustrated by Antonie Guilbaud, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.

Coauthor, with Lisa Desimini, David Ricceri, and Sara Schwartz, of All Year Round: A Book to Benefit Children in Need, Scholastic.

"BLAST-OFF BOY AND BLORP" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

First Day on a Strange New Planet, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

New Pet, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

The Big Science Fair, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

ILLUSTRATOR

Catherine Friend, The Sawfin Stickleback: A Very Fishy Story, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.

Eve Merriam, Bam! Bam! Bam!, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

M.C. Helldorfer, Carnival, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

W. Nikola-Lisa, One Hole in the Road, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

Kevin Henkes, Circle Dogs, Greenwillow Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Laura Godwin, Little White Dog, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, Trashy Town, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Away We Go!, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2000.

Naomi Shihab Nye, Come with Me: Poems for a Journey, Greenwillow Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Laurie Myers, Surviving Brick Johnson, Clarion Books (New York), 2000.

Robert Burleigh, I Love Going through This Book, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 2001.

Abigail Tabby, Baby Face, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2001.

Jack Prelutsky, Halloween Countdown, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 2002.

Margaret Wise Brown, The Good Little Bad Little Pig, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.

Patricia MacLachlan, Bittle, Joanna Cotler Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Dee Lillegard, Who Will Sing a Lullaby?, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

Illustrator of Discover 2000: The New York State 2000 Summer Reading Program, by Lisa von Drasek, and of "Play and Learn" kits Move It! and Bugs, published by Running Press. Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Rolling Stone, Playboy, New York, and Fast Company.

Adaptations

Oswald was adapted for an animated television series produced by Nickelodeon, 2001. An Octopus Followed Me Home was adapted as the animated television series Willa's Wild Life, produced on the Discovery Channel. Yaccarino's characters have been made into plush toys.

Sidelights

Dan Yaccarino is a children's book writer and illustrator who first broke into print with his self-illustrated picture book Big Brother Mike, a "visually offbeat take on sibling rivalry," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Since that time, he has authored many books of his own as well as creating art for numerous texts by writers such as Jack Prelutsky, Margaret Wise Brown, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Robert Burleigh. Best known for his picture book Oswald, which was adapted as an animated series on the Nickelodeon television network, Yaccarino has also penned a trio of books about Blast-Off Boy and Blorp, a pair of "unlikely intergalactic exchange students," according to a contributor for Kirkus Reviews. Other books from the versatile and prolific author/artist include Deep in the Jungle, Good Night, Mr. Night, Where the Four Winds Blow, Unlovable, and Go, Go America. Writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Deborah Stevenson applauded the "retro" style of Yaccarino's work. "There's no glamorized, adult-appealing nostalgia here," the critic commented. "Rather there's a robustness reminiscent of the energetic illustrative work of the colorful 1950s and even at times … of [Mexican muralist] Diego Rivera's glistening monumental figures." Employing bold, bright colors and sturdy figures, Yaccarino's illustrations have a "refreshing unfussiness," Stevenson added.

In Yaccarino's first original self-illustrated picture book, Big Brother Mike, he tells a story of sibling relationships, including the usual ups and downs between brothers. Even though older brother Mike comes to the aid of the young narrator when bullies threaten or help is needed in burying a pet hamster, the older boy can also be irritating to his younger sibling when battling for the television remote control. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Big Brother Mike a "spunky first book." In Booklist Lisa Napoli cited Yaccarino's "ability to use color, form and composition to show feelings," while a Kirkus Reviews critic praised Big Brother Mike for featuring "vibrantly expressive illustrations, with emotion-indicative colors."

In If I Had a Robot, young Phil dreams of having a machine that can handle everything distasteful, from finishing up his vegetables at dinner to going to school and doing homework. Reviewers focused on Yaccarino's "visually emphatic" illustrations, as John Peters characterized them in School Library Journal. In Booklist Susan Dove Lempke also commented on the author/illustrator's "retro-style artwork … [which] carries through the time-honored concept" of childish wish-fulfillment. A contributor for Publishers Weekly likewise felt that the "main appeal" of If I Had a Robot "comes from the quirky sci-fi illustrations." Yaccarino returns to a similar premise in The Lima Bean Monster, in which Sammy unwittingly unleashes a monster while trying to dispose of a dreaded legume. Lima beans need to be discretely emptied from the boy's plate, and Sammy does so by slipping them into his sock and then burying them in a vacant lot. When a Lima Bean Monster sprouts from the site and starts to eat all the adults in the neighborhood, Sammy and the other kids protect their parents by gathering around the monster and eating it up. Sally R. Dow, writing in School Library Journal, described The Lima Bean Monster as a "fast-paced story … [with] surefire appeal for youngsters who won't touch their vegetables."

[Image not available for copyright reasons]

Yaccarino presents a bowler-hatted Mr. Night, who puts the world to bed and also helps children fall asleep, in the picture book Good Night, Mr. Night, as "simple forms and Matisse-like colors match the innocence of the story, told in a series of simple lines," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. Writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Janice M. Del Negro commented on Yaccarino's "Rousseauian landscape," and dubbed Good Night, Mr. Night a "storytime natural" due to its "controlled text and flamingly colorful illustrations." Similarly, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book a "calming bedtime tale" and further remarked that Yaccarino's "quiet narration and undulating illustrations have an almost hypnotic quality." Lauren Peterson, writing in Booklist, called Good Night, Mr. Night a "gentle bedtime tale that stirs the imagination" and went on to praise Yaccarino's "rich, vibrant" double-page spreads, which "complement the text beautifully."

Moon exploration is the focus of Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm off to the Moon, about a boy astronaut who takes an adventurous trip into space. The text of Yaccarino's rhyming narrative climbs diagonally up the page, reducing in size as the boy's spaceship takes off and gains altitude. A contributor for Publishers Weekly called this an "effervescent" picture book that readers could use as a "launch pad for their own imaginations," and Horn Book critic Roger Sutton deemed Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! "a perfect space story for the toddler realm." Sutton also commented on Yaccarino's use of signature "rounded retro shapes" in his illustrations, shapes reminiscent of 1950s toys. Shelley Townsend-Hudson, reviewing the same title in Booklist, wrote that the book's "fanciful illustrations pull children into this exuberant picture book and make the launch a special event."

More rhyming text is presented in An Octopus Followed Me Home, in which a child whines to be allowed to keep the stray octopus that has followed her home. Then her father reminds the girl of all the other animals that have followed her home, including the crocodile under the bed and the giraffe with its neck up the chimney. No more, says Dad, but readers wonder when they reach the last page and see an even more monstrous critter following the girl home. In Booklist Rochman noted that the verses and "bright illustrations give an uproarious spin" to the usual tale of a kid pleading to keep a stray. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly maintained that Yaccarino "specializes in simple text and whimsically distorted shapes," and in Newsweek Malcolm Jones, Jr., dubbed An Octopus Followed Me Home a "beguilingly simple can-I-keep-it story."

A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Yaccarino's Deep in the Jungle "perhaps his best book yet," and a "tongue-in-cheek look at an arrogant king of beasts." Tricked one day into leaving the jungle for the confines of a zoo, the lion decides he does not really care for captivity, nor for a taste of the medicine he regularly dosed out to underlings in the jungle. After eating his

tamer, the king of beasts returns home and helps the other jungle animals outsmart another trickster attempting to trap them at the zoo. In Booklist Connie Fletcher wrote that the author/illustrator's "bright and cartoony" illustrations help take the "bite out of the tale."

Straying far from Earth, Yaccarino has created three books about an earthling student, Johnny Smith, and an alien boy from the planet Meep, Blorp Gorp, who trade places. Smith—dubbed Blast-Off Boy—is chosen from millions of applicants to represent Earth on Meep; at the same time Blorp, all green except for his black eyes, tries to adjust to his new life at Blast-Off Boy's former elementary school. First Day on a Strange Planet chronicles the outset of this strange arrangement. While Blast-Off Boy becomes the center of attention on Meep, Blorp is put in detention. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt that Yaccarino "puts a fresh and funny spin on ordinary events like lunchtime and gym class" in First Day on a Strange Planet, while Stevenson found the book to be "an enjoyable armchair excursion into space."

Blorp is living with the Smiths and Blast-Off Boy resides with Blorp's family on Meep in the second title of the series, New Pet. A critic for Kirkus Reviews thought that while this second book "won't send any young readers into orbit, it will appeal to those who adore aliens of any variety." John Peters, writing in Booklist, had higher praise for the book, commending Yaccarino's "daffy spin on familiar themes" and noting that the author/illustrator once again "deftly intertwin[es] his two story lines." The dual story line continues in The Big Science Fair, and both students are preparing for fairs on each planet: Blorp with real exuberance and Blast-Off Boy with more of a sense of dread, faced with "all the brainy aliens [who] are planning their macaroni models of hydrogen molecules," as a contributor for Kirkus Reviews noted. The same critic concluded that the series is a "welcome addition to the library of those just blasting off out of easy readers." Marlene Gawron, writing in School Library Journal, thought that Yaccarino's name should be added to the list of those authors "who have nailed the schoolroom scene."

Other picture books by Yaccarino include Oswald, The Birthday Fish, Every Friday, and Go, Go America, as well as his own self-illustrated version of the stories of Mother Goose. Illustrated with computer-generated images, Oswald is a cumulative story that follows Oswald and his dog, Weenie, as they move to a new city where they have no friends. Attempting to catch a runaway piano, they begin to meet a cast of odd new locals, including trees that can walk and hat-wearing eggs. Gillian Engberg, writing in Booklist, felt that youngsters three to seven would enjoy the "zany, random comedy."

In The Birthday Fish Cynthia wants a pony for her birthday and has already given her new pet a name. When her new pet turns out to be a goldfish, she decides to toss it down the drain in protest. However, when the goldfish begs to be tossed into a nearby lake instead, the girl loads the fish bowl onto her doll stroller and heads off on her relocation mission. The trip proves longer than planned, however, and by the time the travelers reach the lake shore girl and fish have bonded as friends. In Kirkus Reviews a writer called The Birthday Fish "deceptively simple," and praised the book's "retro look," while School Library Journal critic Wendy Woodfill cited Yaccarino's "highly stylized" art as "a perfect complement to the amiable story." In Booklist, Jennifer Mattson predicted that young children will easily perceive the book's message: "about withholding judgment and finding friendship in unexpected places."

A more urban neighborhood is the backdrop for Every Friday, which was inspired by the time the author and his son set aside each week to spend with each other. The story is narrated by a young boy who describes the father-and-son routine step by step, from greeting the doorman to stopping at favorite shop windows and eating breakfast at a favorite local diner where the waitress welcomes them each Friday with a hearty greeting. Illustrated in Yaccarino's characteristic retro style, Every Friday "shows a cozy plan tailored to urban life, yet suggests the rewards are transferable anywhere," according to a Publishers Weekly. Observing that "the story is simple but sweet," Daisy Porter added in School Library Journal that the young narrator's "excitement about the time spent with his dad is obvious throughout" Yaccarino's cozy tale, and a Kirkus Reviews writer deemed Every Friday a "sweet tribute to the unparalleled connection between parent and child."

Featuring a different state on every page, Yaccarino's energetic touring guide Go, Go America follows the enthusiastic, tourist-minded Farley Family on their whirlwind tour of the fifty states, revealing a wealth of trivia. From state mottos to festivals, sports, landmarks, history, and unique foods, the book tucks myriad facts within its pastel-toned, image-packed pages. "Browsers will find this hard to put down," maintained a Kirkus Reviews writer, and in School Library Journal Lynda Ritterman wrote that Yaccarino's "busy but energetic" page design incorporates maps, cartoons, and factoids to produce a book that "is loads of fun and … certain to stimulate interest in the U.S." The "old-fashioned road trip" presented in the pages of Go, Go America "integrates text and eye-popping art to highlight ridiculous but true tidbits about each state," concluded a Publishers Weekly critic.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 15, 1993, Lisa Napoli, review of Big Brother Mike, p. 1363; July, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of If I Had a Robot, p. 1831; August, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of An Octopus Followed Me Home, p. 1908; November 1, 1997, Lauren Peterson, review of Good Night, Mr. Night, p. 485; November 15, 1997, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I'm off to the Moon, p. 568; December 15, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Five Little Pumpkins, p. 754; March 1, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of Deep in the Jungle, p. 1253; July, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Oswald, p. 2022; September 1, 2001, John Peters, review of The Lima Bean Monster, p. 118; December 1, 2001, John Peters, review of New Pet, p. 645; November 15, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of When the Four Winds Blow, p. 611; October 15, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Mother Goose, p. 409; May 15, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Birthday Fish, p. 1667; February 1, 2007, Gillian Engberg, review of Every Friday, p. 47; December 1, 2007, Krista Hutley, review of Little Boy with a Big Horn, p. 49; March 1, 2008, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Go, Go America, p. 64.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 1, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, "Rising Star: Dan Yaccarino"; January, 1998, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Good Night, Mr. Night, p. 182; December, 2000, Deborah Stevenson, review of First Day on a Strange New Planet, p. 167; June, 2001, Deborah Stevenson, review of Oswald, pp. 392-393.

Horn Book, September-October 1997, Roger Sutton, review of Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!, p. 567; March-April, 2000, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Deep in the Jungle, p. 191; July-August, 2005, Kitty Flynn, review of The Birthday Fish, p. 462.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1993, review of Big Brother Mike, p. 308; August 15, 1997, review of Good Night, Mr. Night, p. 1315; December 15, 2000, review of So Big!, p. 1768; September 1, 2001, review of New Pet, p. 1304; November 1, 2001, review of Unlovable, p. 1556; October 1, 2002, review of The Big Science Fair, p. 1484; April 15, 2003, review of Where the Four Winds Blow, p. 614; September 1, 2004, review of Mother Goose, p. 875; May 15, 2005, review of The Birthday Fish, p. 597; August 15, 2007, review of Every Friday; August 15, 2007, review of Who Will Sing a Lullaby?; December 1, 2007, review of Little Boy with a Big Horn; March 1, 2008, review of Go, Go America.

Newsweek, December 1, 1997, Malcolm Jones, Jr., review of An Octopus Followed Me Home, p. 78.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 1993, review of Big Brother Mike, p. 85; June 24, 1996, review of If I Had a Robot, p. 58; July 21, 1997, review of Good Night, Mr. Night, and Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!, p. 200; October 20, 1997, review of An Octopus Followed Me Home, pp. 74-75; January 3, 2000, review of Deep in the Jungle, p. 75; October 30, 2000, review of First Day on a Strange New Planet, p. 75; July 30, 2001, review of The Lima Bean Monster, p. 84; December 17, 2001, review of Unlovable, pp. 89-90; September 6, 2004, review of Mother Goose, p. 61; May 30, 2005, review of The Birthday Fish, p. 59; March 12, 2007, review of Every Friday, p. 56; April 14, 2008, review of Go, Go America, p. 54.

School Library Journal, September, 1996, John Peters, review of If I Had a Robot, p. 195; December, 1997, Susan M. Moore, review of Zoom! Zoom! Zoom!, p. 103; February, 1999, Blair Christolon, review of Five Little Pumpkins, pp. 83-84; February, 2000, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Deep in the Jungle, p. 106; July, 2001, Linda M. Kenton, review of Oswald, p. 91; September, 2001, Sally R. Dow, review of The Lima Bean Monster, p. 209; December, 2001, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of New Pet, p. 116; January, 2002, Karen Land, review of Unlovable, p. 114; December, 2002, Marlene Gawron, review of The Big Science Fair, p. 114; November, 2003, Susan Lissim, review of Where the Four Winds Blow, p. 120; October, 2004, Judith Constantinides, review of Mother Goose, p. 152; July, 2005, Wendy Woodfill, review of The Birthday Fish, p. 85; June, 2007, Daisy Porter, review of Every Friday, p. 128; March, 2008, Lynda Ritterman, review of Go, Go America, p. 192; March, 2008, Ieva Bates, review of Little Boy with a Big Horn, p. 154.

ONLINE

Dan Yaccarino Home Page,http://www.yaccarinostudio.com (August 7, 2008).