Yezerski, Thomas F. 1969–
Yezerski, Thomas F. 1969–
Born 1969, in Lancaster, PA. Education: Syracuse University, B.F.A. (illustration), 1991. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, writing, drawing, vegetarian cooking, marathon running.
Author and illustrator.
Riverbank Review Children's Books of Distinction, and Notable Social Studies Books for Young People designation, National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)/ Children's Book Council (CBC), both 1999, both for Together in Pinecone Patch; Notable Book designation, American Library Association, Honor Book designation, Society of School Librarians International Book Awards. and Gold Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, all 1999, all for Not My Dog by Colby Rodowsky; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year designation, 2000, for Queen of the World; New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Book Award, Notable Social Studies Books for Young People designation, NCSS/CBC, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, all 2002, all for A Full Hand; New York City Book Award, New York Society Library, 2004, for Mimmy and Sophie All around the Town by Miriam Cohen; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Book Award, 2005, for Rose and Riley.
Together in Pinecone Patch, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1998.
Queen of the World, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2000.
A Full Hand, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2002.
Kathleen Karr, Spy in the Sky, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1997.
Miriam Cohen, Mimmy and Sophie, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1999.
Colby F. Rodowsky, Not My Dog, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1999.
Stephanie Calmenson, Perfect Puppy, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Miriam Cohen, Mimmy and Sophie All around the Town, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
Jane Cutler, Rose and Riley, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Jane Cutler, Rose and Riley Come and Go, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.
Nancy Ruth Patterson, The Winner's Walk, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
Laura F. Nielsen, Mrs. Muddle's Holidays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2008.
Illustrator and author Thomas F. Yezerski grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and his childhood talent for observation combines with his skill as an artist in his many contributions to books for children. His detailed watercolor-and-ink art and pencil drawings have brought to life stories by authors such as Colby Rodowsky, Nancy Ruth Patterson, Miriam Cohen, and Stephanie Calmenson, resulting in an impressive roster of award-winning picture books. In addition, Yezerski takes on the dual role of author/illustrator in several picture books, the first inspired by his Polish and Irish immigrant heritage.
In his authorial debut, Together in Pinecone Patch, a close-knit family is central to Yezerski's story, and family relationships also figure prominently in his more recent books Queen of the World and A Full Hand. Praising Yezerski's contribution to Cohen's Mimmy and Sophie All Around the Town, Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman wrote that the book's pen-and-ink art "do a great job of creating the neighborhood details" in the sibling-centered story. Also writing in Booklist, Gillian Engberg noted of Jane Cutler's Rose and Riley Come and Go that "Yezerski's soft-toned, detailed" illustrations "strengthen the meaning in the short, simple sentences and extend the gentle affection" among the characters. His "colorful pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations" also "perfectly match [Laura F.] Nielsen's cheery text" in Mrs. Muddle's Holidays, according to School Library Journal critic Martha Simpson, and Rachel Fox concluded in the same periodical that in Perfect Puppy the illustrator's "watercolor cartoon illustrations with dynamic facial expressions" pair well with "Calmenson's heartwarming story."
Starting out in Ireland and Poland, Together in Pinecone Patch takes place during the 1880s. When readers meet Irish-born Keara Buckley and Polish-born Stefan Pazik, both children are facing difficult futures in their two home countries due to poverty. To improve their lot in life, the Buckleys and Paziks bravely immigrate to the United States, and both families ultimately find a new home in the coal-mining town of Pinecone Patch, Pennsylvania. Although with their ethnic backgrounds Keara and Stefan have different groups of friends, the two gradually become friends, and by the time they are older romance has bloomed. In his story, the author/ illustrator "tells an immigrant love story with the realism and humor of family lore," according to Rochman, the critic predicting that Together in Pinecone Patch "will get kids talking across generations and cultures." "Concise yet lyrical," noted a Publishers Weekly, Yezerski's debut picture book presents readers with "a realistic look at the American immigrant experience, brightened by a heartening dash of fancy."
Yezerski introduces children to a form of transportation that was common in the eastern United States prior to the train in A Full Hand. Nine-year-old Asa is the son of a canal boat captain, and when the mule driver quits, the boy is deemed old enough to drive the mules that tow the heavy flat-bottomed boat. The captain's task is to port a boat full of coal along the narrow channels that run from town to town from Phillipsburg to Jersey City. As father and son start their journey, readers learn about the nineteenth-century waterway and its intricately engineered system of locks, aqueducts, and banked channels, all lined with the mules' narrow towpath. In his detailed pen-and-ink art, Yezerski "does a good job of explaining this obsolete and little-known method of transport," according to School Library Journal contributor Catherine Threadgill. "Readers young and old are sure to learn something new in this informative story," wrote a Kirkus Reviews writer, the critic adding that the "authentic 1800s details" in Yezerski's pictures will make A Full Hand "a sure hit with young budding engineers." In Booklist Denise Wilms concluded that the book is "skillfully illustrated with careful, ambitious pen-and-wash drawings that use interesting perspectives" in bringing to life a past era.
Inspired by memories of his own sister, Yezerski captures the drama, arguments, and fun that constantly erupt in a household full of girls in Queen of the World. The story is set in a family of three sisters, and the middle sister narrates how the three found a way how to decide which sister was, in fact, the best sister of them all. Deciding that Mom would be the best judge, the three girls devise a secret contest: each will make their mom a birthday present, and whichever sister made the gift Mom likes best will automatically become Queen of the World. "Oh, how some siblings will see themselves in this!," exclaimed Cooper, while in Horn Book Martha V. Parravano wrote that Yezerski's "illustrations— unobtrusively retro but not nostalgic—are as effective as the text."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Together in Pinecone Patch, p. 924; September 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Queen of the World, p. 126; January 1, 2003, Denise Wilms, review of A Full Hand, p. 911; January 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Mimmy and Sophie All around the Town, p. 852; June 1, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Rose and Riley Come and Go, p. 1820; May 1, 2008, Gillian Engberg, review of Mrs. Muddle's Holidays, p. 94.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2000, review of Queen of the World, p. 126; December, 2002, review of A Full Hand, p. 178.
Horn Book, September, 2000, Martha V. Parravano, review of Queen of the World, p. 561.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of A Full Hand, p. 1048; July 1, 2005, review of Rose and Riley Come and Go, p. 733.
New York Times Book Review, February 9, 2003, review of A Full Hand, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, January 12, 1998, review of Together in Pinecone Patch, p. 59.
School Library Journal, March, 1998, Kate McClelland, review of Together in Pinecone Patch, p. 190; October, 2000, Linda Ludke, review of Queen of the World, p. 143; March, 2002, Rachel Fox, review of Perfect Puppy, p. 172; September, 2002, Catherine Threadgill, review of A Full Hand, p. 209; May, 2004, Pat Leach, review of Mimmy and Sophie All around the Town, p. 108; April, 2008, Martha Simpson, review of Mrs. Muddle's Holiday, p. 118.
Macmillan Publishers Web site,http://us.macmillan.com/ (June 15, 2008), "Thomas F. Yezerski."
Thomas F. Yezerski Home Page,http://www.thomasfyezerski.com (June 6, 2008).