Zahares, Wade

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Zahares, Wade


Male. Education: Graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art.


Home and office—Lyman, ME. Office—Zahares Limited, P.O. Box 626, West Kennebunk, ME 04904. E-mail—[email protected].


Artist and illustrator. Work has been commissioned by HBO and Cinemax; freelance artist for Philips Academy, Andover, MA, 1994—. Exhibitions: Work included in permanent collection at DeCordova Museum of Art, Lincoln, MA.

Awards, Honors

Best Illustrated Children's Book selection, 1998, New York Times, for Window Music.



(Compiler) Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary: Poems That Bite Back!, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.


Anastasia Suen, Window Music, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Anastasia Suen, Delivery, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

Marc Harshman and Cheryl Ryan, Red Are the Apples, Gulliver Books (San Diego, CA), 2001.

Pegi Deitz Shea, Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty, Holt (New York, NY), 2005.

Sharon Hart Addy, Lucky Jake, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Los Angeles Times Magazine, Family Circle, and Sesame Street magazine.


Wade Zahares, a fine artist noted for his work with soft pastels, has also illustrated several well-received children's books, including Window Music by Anastasia Suen and Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Pegi Deitz Shea. "I've been working pastels for 25 years," Zahares told Elaine Magliaro in an interview on the Wild Rose Reader Web log, adding, "I like the immediacy of the chalk and the flat soft look of the finished piece."

Zahares made his picture-book debut in 1998 with Window Music, which follows a young girl and her mother as they travel via train through evocative and often surreal terrain (the title refers to nineteenth-century railroad slang for passing scenery). Complimenting the illustrator's choice of colors, Horn Book reviewer Lolly Robinson stated that "People and objects have been simplified, allowing Zahares to concentrate on how light strikes shapes, casting shadows and bringing out the sculptural qualities of each object." According to New York Times Book Review contributor Robin Tzannes, Zahares "has used a rich, earthy palette with brilliant white accents. His drawings are full of life and will have strong appeal for children." Zahares also teamed with Suen on Delivery, a work that examines how taxis, airplanes, and trains take items from one place to another. "Zahares' effective use of simple lines ensures that the pages never appear cluttered," Kay Weisman stated in Booklist.

Shea's Liberty Rising focuses on the construction of the fabled statue located in New York Harbor. The book examines the contributions of Edouard de Laboulaye, who first conceived the idea for the monument; Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the statue; and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, who constructed the framework. "Zahares's illustrations add considerable drama to the story," remarked a critic in Kirkus Reviews, and Vicky Smith, writing in Horn Book, applauded Zahares's pictures, noting that they "employ dizzying perspectives that position the reader at ground level or far above the action."

A young gold miner and his father turn a handful of seed corn into a prosperous business with the help of their pet pig in Lucky Jake, a work by Sharon Hart Addy. "Using pastels in deep and heavy hues, solid shapes, and unusual perspectives," wrote Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper, Zahares "provides images that roll breathtakingly across the pages," and Susan Dove Lempke, critiquing the work in Horn Book, stated that the illustrator "draws in a style reminiscent of Thomas Hart Benton but with a contemporary intensity of color." Zahares's pastels lend "a bold contrast to the old-time tenor of the easygoing narrative and creating an unlikely, but lucky, pairing," a critic stated in Publishers Weekly.

Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary: Poems That Bite Back!, a collection featuring verse by Dick King-Smith, Russell Hoban, Eve Merriam, and others, focuses on some of the world's most menacing creatures. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly cited Zahares's "captivating illustrations, in a unifying palette of cool blue and green hues," and School Library Journal contributor Shawn Brommer noted that the illustrator spotlights the characteristics "that make the animals so fearsome, such as the barracuda's saw-blade teeth and the octopus's powerful tentacles."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Delivery, p. 144; August, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Liberty Rising: The Story of the Statue of Liberty, p. 2020; April 15, 2007, Ilene Cooper, review of Lucky Jake, p. 52.

Horn Book, November, 1998, Lolly Robinson, review of Window Music, p. 720; September-October, 2005, Vicky Smith, review of Liberty Rising, p. 608; July-August, 2007, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Lucky Jake, p. 375.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2005, review of Liberty Rising, p. 858; May, 2007, review of Lucky Jake.

New York Times Book Review, November 15, 1998, Robin Tzannes, "Little Engines That Could," review of Window Music; December 19, 1999, Linda Villarosa, review of Delivery.

Publishers Weekly, September 21, 1998, review of Window Music, p. 83; September 13, 1999, review of Delivery, p. 828; September 10, 2001, review of Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary: Poems That Bite Back!, p. 93; May 7, 2007, review of Lucky Jake, p. 58.

School Library Journal, October, 2001, Shawn Brommer, review of Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary, p. 136; October, 2005, Susan Lissim, review of Liberty Rising, p. 146; July, 2007, Ieva Bates, review of Lucky Jake, p. 66.


Wade Zahares Home Page, (August 10, 2008).

Wild Rose Reader Web log, (November 18, 2007), Elaine Magliaro, "Interview with Wade Zahares."