TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Tony DiTerlizzi

Tony DiTerlizzi

Acclaimed children’s book creator, Tony DiTerlizzi was born into an artistic household on September 6, 1969. Being the first of three visually adept children, it didn’t take long for his family and friends to realize that he was one strange, but talented lad. At an early age Tony began embracing the whimsical, the wondrous, and the surreal, all of which sparked his wild imagination. That said, it is apropos that his spooky picture book of Mary Howitt’s classic poem The Spider and the Fly (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2002) brought him much fame and accolades. His fantastic vision garnered him the 2003 Caldecott Honor Medal and the moniker of New York Times best-selling author/illustrator.

Tony grew up in South Florida amid palm trees and year-round sunshine. While he enjoyed collecting insects, snorkeling, and camping, he also loved to draw and read. During this time he was introduced to the works of Norman Rockwell, Arthur Rackham, Dr. Suess, Roald Dahl, and Jim Henson, all of whom inspired him and became major creative influences. With the support of family and teachers, Tony was able to cultivate his natural artistic talents. In college, he honed these talents at the Florida School of the Arts and later, at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he earned a degree in Graphic Design in 1992.

After college, Tony began a freelance illustration career, working for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons role–playing game. He continued to illustrate within the gaming field for most of the ‘90s, working on games such as Planescape, Changeling and the trading card phenomenon, Magic the Gathering, thus forging a place for himself in the field of fantasy art.

After seven years of successful work as a fantasy artist, Tony delved into a new field, that of creating children’s picture books. With the publication in 2000 of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), Tony fulfilled a childhood dream of writing and illustrating his own book. Jimmy, which was lauded by critics, was followed the next year by Ted (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), which also received high praise, including the 2002 Zena Sutherland Award. Tony has also illustrated the Alien & Possum series by Tony Johnston (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers); Ribbiting Tales (Penguin/Putnam Books); and the star-studded Once Upon A Fairy Tale (Viking Books) in which all proceeds benefit Steven Spielberg’s Starbright Foundation.

Continuing with his passion for fantasy, Tony has lent his vision to an array of noted author’s works including J.R.R.Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Greg Bear, and Peter Beagle.

Tony is now realizing another childhood dream and is bringing to life a whimsical, wondrous, and somewhat surreal story that’s been bouncing around his head for the past 20 years. Tony and good friend Holly Black have created a five-book serial, The Spiderwick Chronicles.