TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock

“My very first memory is of lying on my stomach on the floor, a crayon in each hand, drawing large, colorful circles. My Mother's biggest fear was of running out of paper for me to draw on. I sat in front of the tv and drew through stacks of paper. If paper ran out, she salvaged envelopes and pieces of cardboard she'd thrown away for me to draw on. I filled up the margins of church bulletins on Sundays, drew on strips of wallpaper, napkins, any surface that wouldn't get me in trouble, and sometimes ones that did.

My parents had a portrait photography studio in Clinton, NJ. My eyes were like a movie camera, taking in everything; the back steps leading into my parent's studio, the paints my mother used to color the black and white portraits my father took, the shelves of chemicals in the darkroom, made mysterious and a bit frightening by my Dad's claim that he was missing just one chemical to make nitroglycerine. That, in my mind, made him the most powerful man in our town! Dad's wooden bellows camera with a black cloth that he draped over himself as he focused, them snapped a picture, was the germinating seed for my book, The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle. My eye movie camera took in the books in our house, the gaucho spurs and Kabuki masks and carved Mexican bowls, and old, dark gnarly Victorian furniture in my grandparent's house, and the warm light in their living room at night. Out came the setting for my most recent book, Dahlia.

But what my eye movie camera took didn't usually come out exactly as it went in. My parent's friends became cats, dogs, and foxes, dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns. My love of fantasy and animals shaped the stories of The Fantastic Drawings of Danielle and Molly And The Magic Wishbone. And I always mixed words up with pictures, like music and stories are mixed up together in opera. I loved making comic books, which are a lovely marriage of text and pictures, and picture books, the supreme combination of story and art.

When I was nine, my sister, mother, and I moved to North Dakota. My stories and drawings took new shapes and forms as I rode my horse through fields and past haystacks ... I was a Sioux, I was a cowgirl, I was a pioneer. I attended Jamestown College in North Dakota, and moved to New York when I was ninteen to begin my life as a children's book author and illustrator.

My books have won numerous awards, including three New York Times Best Books, two Time Magazine Best Books, two NY Public Library 100 Recommended Books, two Parents Choice, an ALA Notable Book, a NEBA, starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, SLJ, Kirkus and Horn Book. The Minneapolis Children's Theatre made a ballet/opera of Animal Fables From Aesop. I have also designed sets and costumes for their production of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I've illustrated two videos for Rabbit Ears Video Productions, and my artwork has appeared in The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Five of my books are in French and German editions. I now live in New Canaan, CT with my son Larson, my friend David Johnson, and two cats. And my eye movie camera is still going strong!"

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