Meet Authors & Illustrators

Bagram Ibatoulline

   Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Russia and recalls sculpting as early as he can remember. He later graduated from the Moscow State Academic Institute of Arts. “It was an important step for me,” he says, “allowing me to understand and find myself as an artist.” He has since worked in the fields of fine arts, graphic arts, mural design, and textile design.

   Bagram Ibatoulline has illustrated many acclaimed books for children, including Thumbelina by Hans Christian Anderson, retold by Brian Alderson; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Great Joy, both by Kate DiCamillo; The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman; Hans Christian Andersen’s The Tinderbox and The Nightingale, both retold by Stephen Mitchell; The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M. T. Anderson; and Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes. He says that as part of his illustration process, he does “a lot of groundwork and extensive research on the time period in order to come up with my own approach or style for a book that I can relate to and use naturally, I have a big reference library, and when that’s not enough, I turn to public libraries and private sources.” Bagram Ibatoulline lives in Pennsylvania.



Crow Call
Lois Lowry
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   The story opens with a young girl heading out on a hunting trip with a father she has not seen for some time. He has been off fighting a war and now he is home. Previously when in town, Lizzie had spied a hunting shirt in a store window. It was a beautiful rainbow plaid, but way to big for such a young girl. No matter, her father made the purchase noting that she would never outgrow the shirt. They stop at a diner and have cherry pie for breakfast--Lizzie’s favorite thing to eat. They discuss the war and his fears--as well as her fears, in particular going hunting. They discuss the cycle of life and how crows eat the crops to survive. In spite of that Lizzie just doesn’t have it in her heart to hunt them. She uses her crow call and they flock to her and surround her. Lizzie says “They think I’m their friend!” Her father refrains from shooting the crows and leaves that for another day or another hunter. Today, he and his daughter walk hand--in-hand and head back home. The illustration by Ibatoulline are evocative of a frosty autumn morning--soft browns with a sky that is just beginning to light up. The trees bare of leaves and mist rising from the hills add a sense of mystery and fear as the two wait to see if the crows will respond to Lizzie’s call. They are a perfect match for the story. Lowry’s story will resonate today as it did back in 1945 when she went through the experience of reacquainting herself with a father who had recently returned from World War II. Today’s children are separated not only from fathers but mothers who head off to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, risking their lives and then having to come home and try to re-establish relationships with family and life in general. As Lois Lowry says on the closing page “And so this story is not really just my story, but everyone’s.” 2009, Scholastic, $16.99. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780545030359

Great Joy
Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   During the days before Christmas, young Frances worries about an organ grinder and his monkey on the cold street corner, even at night. On the night when Frances is to appear in the church Christmas pageant, she invites the organ grinder to come. Dressed as an angel, Frances goes on stage but finds she cannot say her lines, because she cannot forget the sad eyes of the organ grinder out in the cold. Suddenly, he and his monkey enter the sanctuary. Inspired in the true spirit of the season, Frances can finally shout “Behold!” and “Great Joy.” Ibatoulline sets the visual story in the 1930s and ‘40s, using the large double pages as naturalistic stage sets. Acrylic gouache paints define the details of a city on snowy evenings as they seem to cast a film of memory over everything, softening the edges. The clothing, hair styles, and old autos in the deserted streets produce nostalgia, as Frances peers down from her window at the old music maker. The final textless double page is filled with the warmth and joy of the post-pageant party, complete with monkey and smiling organ grinder. Touches of gold and gold end-papers add elegance. 2007, Candlewick Press, $16.99. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-763629205

Hana in the Time of the Tulips
Deborah Noyes
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   Hana lives in Holland during the seventeenth century. Like any little girl, she loves spending time with her parents. She especially enjoys being with her father for walks in the garden and playing games. Hana’s favorite game is make-believe. In that game, she is a Renowned Physician and her father is a patient. She loves to hear him ask “What cure is there, doctor?” and to prescribe one of her tender remedies: a kiss, a footrace, or roses. Lately, though, her father has not been available to play any games with her. There haven’t been any walks in the garden. When he comes to tuck Hana in at night, her father’s face is drawn and worried. He has been struck by the “tulipomania” afflicting much of Holland, and he is worried about the family’s future. Can Hana help her father heal from this blow? Will she--with some help from her friend Rembrandt--be able to help him rediscover what is truly valuable in life? Bagram Ibatoulline’s lush illustrations are a beautiful tribute to this rich period of European artistry. Deborah Noyes’ story is a stirring and reassuring account of the loving bond that can exist between fathers and daughters. 2004, Candlewick, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763618759

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   This is a timeless classic children’s book that transcends the boundaries of age and era--a book like The Velveteen Rabbit or The Little Prince. Realistic illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline give a sense of time, place, and the essence of the characters. The hero is a three foot china rabbit with real rabbit fur ears and “an extraordinary wardrobe composed of handmade silk suits, custom shoes fashioned from the finest leather and…a wide array of hats equipped with holes so that they could easily fit over Edward’s large and expressive ears.” Edward is the beloved toy of Abilene who tends carefully to his every physical and emotional need. The prideful rabbit cares little until he is tossed overboard from the Queen Mary. As Edward travels from the depths of a “skyless ocean” to the shifting layers of a garbage dump, he is cared for by humans who teach him much about the power of love. At book’s end Edward is a changed rabbit and ready to return love. DiCamillo’s book is as much a literary miracle as Edward’s transformation. She finds metaphorical situations to express the depths of the human heart and does so without being overly sentimental. Her words, written with seeming ease, are poetic and honest, but not overdrawn. She creates characters and ideas that will live forever, guiding those of all ages who have the courage to look inside, question who they are, or wonder what they will become. 2006, Candlewick, $ $18.98. Ages 7 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780763625894

On the Blue Comet
Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   Anyone who has browsed in the children’s section of a library or bookstore is familiar with award-winning author Wells, who has written or illustrated more than sixty books with unforgettable characters (Max, Ruby, and Morris with his disappearing bag are among readers’ favorites). Wells turns her considerable talent to this young adult novel set in the 1920s through 1940s and another unforgettable character, eleven-year-old Oscar Ogilvie Junior. He lives with his widowed father, Oscar Senior in Cairo, Illinois, where Oscar Senior works for John Deere. Their passion and bond is trains—Lionel trains—and their basement is full of trains with elaborate homemade layouts. Oscar’s favorite is the Blue Comet, “the queen of all trains,” his dad’s birthday gift. Their idyllic life ends abruptly with the stock market crash of 1929. The bank takes their house, and the beloved trains must be sold so Oscar’s dad can buy a ticket to California to look for work. Oscar must live with his unaffectionate and frugal Aunt Carmen. He meets Mr. Applegate, an out-of-work teacher, who helps him memorize Kipling’s poem, “If,” and in his job as night watchman at the bank, invites Oscar to visit his old trains, which are being used as part of a Christmas display. But this world crashes, also, when two bank robbers try to kill them. Mr. Applegate screams, “jump,” and Oscar finds himself riding the train to California as well as entering a time pocket to 1941. This riveting read with Ibatoulline’s remarkable illustrations provides as many twists and turns as a train track. What happens when Oscar travels through time to New York? Along the way he meets some amazing characters: Claire, her rich father, a famous Hollywood director, Mr. H., and even Joe Kennedy Senior, who scoffs at Oscar’s future “predictions.” The result is an extraordinary page-turner for young readers. 2010, Candlewick Press, Ages 8 to Adult, $16.99. Reviewer: Judy Crowder (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3722-4

The Scarecrow’s Dance
Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
   On a moonlit autumn night, a wild wind blows the clothes off an old scarecrow. He magically stirs, moves, jogs along the cornfield, passes the barn, and comes to the lit farmhouse. Inside he sees a young boy at prayer, asking for blessings on all the farm, including the scarecrow, who must protect the corn crop from the predator crows. The scarecrow, listening, weeps “a pail/ Of painted tears.” Reminded of his duty, he dances back to his pole and kneels, praying what prayers, “We’ll never know.” But back he leaps onto his pole, which “Just fits his soul./For anyone can dance,/ Thought he,/But only I/ Can keep fields free.” Yolen’s rhymed couplets, although occasionally awkward, vividly evoke the magic of the night and the mystery of the scarecrow, along with the spirituality of the prayers of both child and scarecrow. Ibatoulline’s naturalistic double-page illustrations, deftly produced with acryl gouache and watercolors, create a mysterious low key atmosphere in shades of brown and dull blues. The scarecrow dancing against the dark sky with flocks of black crows and his distant flying image through the corn plants are particularly effective. Our emotions are stirred by both the praying child and the tears on the face of the scarecrow. 2009, Simon & Schuster, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781416937708


Added 9/2/2010

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