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Lois Ehlert. Kakki Hilton, Sarah Graham, JoBeth Byrd, and Amber Griffin. Biographical Information. Born November 4, 1934 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin Received a 4 year scholarship to the Layton School of Art and graduated in 1957

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kakki hilton sarah graham jobeth byrd and amber griffin


Kakki Hilton, Sarah Graham, JoBeth Byrd, and Amber Griffin

biographical information
Biographical Information
  • Born November 4, 1934 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
  • Received a 4 year scholarship to the Layton School of Art and graduated in 1957
  • Did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin where she received a B.F.A in 1959
  • Initially providing illustrations for the books of others, Ehlert began writing her own material to accompany her artwork in the mid-1980s

Ehlert started illustrating books for children early in her career but, unhappy with their final production quality, she stopped and focused on graphic design work.

  • Ehlert returned to the world of children's book illustration only after she felt that publishers had begun to pay more attention to design and production. Her book COLOR ZOO was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1990.
  • Some of her books have been translated into Spanish
  • She currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
artistic background
Artistic Background
  • Grew up in a home where everyone seemed to be making something with their hands
  • As far back as she remembers she was always putting things together, cutting stitching, pasting, or pounding. The feel of the object she made was as important as the look.
  • Her mother, a good seamstress, shared her fabric scraps with Lois and taught her how to sew when she was 8 years old
  • Her dad had a basement workshop, which supplied her with scrap lumber and nails
  • Had a ready supply of art materials, but not traditional ones

While growing up, she worked on a folding table. This was her own spot. Her mom and dad allowed her to leave her projects out on this table so she could work on them in her free time. Today she has a large studio she works in with a huge drawing board and cabinets filled with art supplies, but it’s still her spot.

  • When she first began illustrating, she was often not satisfied and erased most of her drawings. She found that her favorite way to illustrate was collage, especially with shapes.
  • Advice from Lois: “If you are creative, you need to find your own spot to work in. You won't do much drawing or writing if you have to hunt for a pencil each time you get an idea.”
characteristics of an author illustrator
Characteristics of an Author/Illustrator
  • Known for vibrant collage artwork which features colored paper and found objects
  • Genre of writing: picture books
  • Illustration technique: Collage (cutout pieces of paper, fabric, or objects glued on a backing) Sometimes she paints white paper with watercolor washes and then cut up the paper, and sometimes she use paper with just one tone or texture.
  • Often focuses on nature and animals
  • Has created books on subjects such as birds, flowers, weather, work, retelling of folk tales, and the alphabet
  • Prefers to paint her own papers to create just the right color or texture
  • Uses simple geometric shapes in several of her books
  • Labels pictures
process of creating a book
Process of Creating a Book
  • She starts out by making a dummy book with sketches. That way she can figure out what she wants to illustrate on each page.
  • Researches her subject. She spends a long time checking her facts before she begin to paint.
  • After deciding what to illustrate, she starts cutting out each little piece and gluing it on a board.
  • Then begins to paint, setting the mood for her books. She is very messy when she works, only cleaning up when she has moments that she has no ideas.
  • Then begins to write. Goes back and forth from art to writing, in an effort to make her writing compliment her artwork.
ideas for books
Ideas for Books
  • Writes and draws things she knows and cares about. Yes, a squirrel really did sneak in through her window. Yes, she does enjoy gardening. Yes, she’s made snow creatures, and each year she press beautiful maple leaves in my phone book.
  • The ideas for her books develop as slowly as seeds I plant in early spring. Ideas and seeds both have to be nurtured to grow. She studies, sketches...and sits and thinks.
awards and honors
Awards and Honors
  • Caldecott Honor Book, 1989, for Color Zoo
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for Snowballs
  • Booklist Editors' Choice for Cuckoo/Cucú: A Mexican Folktale/Un cuentofolklóricomexicano
  • IRA Teachers' Choice and NCTE Notable Children's Trade Book in the Language Arts for Feathers for Lunch
  • American Library Association Notable Children's Book and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award for ChickaChicka Boom Boom

Color Zoo1989 Caldecott Honor Book Winner

  • This stunning book introduces nine shapes and sixteen colors that form a series of animal faces when placed on top of one another. As readers turn each die-cut page, they can watch the pictures change--a lion turns into a goat; an ox into a monkey; a tiger into a mouse, and more.

Growing Vegetable SoupIn bright pictures, a father and child plant, water, and watch seeds grow into vegetables. Then, they cook them up into the best soup ever.


CircusThis unusual circus features leaping lizards, marching snakes, a bear on the high wire, and a ferocious tiger, among many other energetic collage figures.


Red Leaf, Yellow LeafTold through the eyes of a child who plants a sugar maple tree, Ehlert's watercolor collage, leaf-shaped die cuts and pieces of seeds, fabric, wire and roots introduce children to the life cycle of a tree.


Nuts to You!A frisky city squirrel digs and eats, dashes and hides. But when he sneaks inside an apartment window, he must find a nutty solution to get out.

  • http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/ehlert/transcript
  • http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/education/kidlit/aom/janaom.html#honor
  • http://www.childrenslit.com/childrenslit/mai_ehlert_lois.html
  • http://www.readingrockets.org/books/interviews/ehlert
  • http://www.rif.org/art/illustrators/ehlert.mspx