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Cyndy Szekeres (1933-) Biography - Personal, Career, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

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Surname is pronounced "zeck-er-es"; born 1933, in Bridgeport, CT; Education: Pratt Institute, certificate, 1954.


Illustrator and writer. Artwork has appeared on calendars and greeting cards.

FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Long Ago (collection of calendar art), McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1976.

A Child's First Book of Poems, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1981, published as Cyndy Szekeres' ABC, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Puppy Too Small, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Scaredy Cat!, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Thumpity Thump Gets Dressed, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Baby Bear's Surprise, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Cyndy Szekeres' Counting Book 1 to 10, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Suppertime for Frieda Fuzzypaws, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Hide-and-Seek Duck, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Nothing-to-Do Puppy, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Good Night, Sammy, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Puppy Lost, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Sammy's Special Day, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Little Bear Counts His Favorite Things, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Melanie Mouse's Moving Day, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1986.

(Compiler) Cyndy Szekeres' Book of Poems, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1987.

(Compiler) Cyndy Szekeres' Mother Goose Rhymes, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1987.

Cyndy Szekeres

(Compiler) Cyndy Szekeres' Book of Fairy Tales, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Good Night, Sweet Mouse, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Cyndy Szekeres' Favorite Two-Minute Stories, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Things Bunny Sees, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.

What Bunny Loves, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.

Cyndy Szekeres' Nice Animals, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.

Cyndy Szekeres' Hugs, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.

Puppy Learns to Share, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.

Ladybug, Where Are You?, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1991.

(Compiler) Cyndy Szekeres' Favorite Fairy Tales, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

(Compiler) Cyndy Szekeres' Favorite Mother Goose Rhymes, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Fluffy Duckling, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Teeny Mouse Counts Herself, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Cyndy Szekeres' Colors, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Kisses, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Little Puppy Cleans His Room, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Cyndy Szekeres' Baby Animals, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1994.

Cyndy Szekeres' I Am a Puppy, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1994.

Cyndy Szekeres' Christmas Mouse, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1995.

Cyndy Szekeres' Giggles, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1996.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

Cyndy Szekeres' I Love My Busy Boook, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1997.

The Mouse That Jack Built, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

I Can Count 100 Bunnies: and So Can You!, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Kisses, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1998.

A Very Merry Mouse Country Christmas: an Advent Calendar, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.

Cyndy Szekeres' Learn to Count, Funny Bunnies, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.

Wilbur Bunny's Funny Friends A to Z, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.


"TOBY" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Toby!, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's Alphabet Walk, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's Rainbow Clothes, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby Counts His Marbles Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's Flying Lesson Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's Holiday Hugs and Kisses, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's New Brother, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2000.

Toby's Please and Thank You, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.

Toby's Good Night, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.

Toby's Dinosaur Halloween, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.

Santa Toby's Busy Christmas, Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.

Do You Love Me? Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.

I Can Do It! Little Simon (New York, NY), 2001.


"TINY PAW LIBRARY" SERIES; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

A Busy Day, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1989.

The New Baby, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Moving Day, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1989.

A Fine Mouse Band, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1989.

A Mouse Mess, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.


ILLUSTRATOR

Sam Vaughan, New Shoes, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1961.

Jean Latham and Bee Lewi, When Homer Honked, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1961.

Marjorie Flack, Walter, the Lazy Mouse, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1963.

Evelyn Sibley Lampman, Mrs. Updaisy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1963.

Phyllis Krasilovsky, Girl Who Was a Cowboy, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1965.

(With others) Alvin Tresselt, editor, Humpty Dumpty's Storybook, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1966.

Edward Ormondroyd, Michael, the Upstairs Dog, Dial (New York, NY), 1967.

Nancy Faulkner, Small Clown and Tiger, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1968.

Kathleen Lombardo, Macaroni, Random House (New York, NY), 1968.

Peggy Parrish, Jumper Goes to School, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1969.

Adelaide Holl, Moon Mouse, Random House (New York, NY), 1969.

Barbara Robinson, Fattest Bear in the First Grade, Random House (New York, NY), 1969.

John Peterson, Mystery in the Night Woods, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1969.

Joy Lonergan, Brian's Secret Errand, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1969.

Patsy Scarry, Little Richard, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1970.

P. Scarry, Waggy and His Friends, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1970.

Kathryn Hitte, What Can You Do without a Place to Play?, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1971.

Lois Myller, No! No!, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.

Patsy Scarry, Little Richard and Prickles, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

Betty Jean Lifton, Good Night, Orange Monster, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1972.

Mary Lystad, James, the Jaguar, Putnam (New York, NY), 1972.

Betty Boegehold, Pippa Mouse, Knopf (New York, NY), 1973.

Adelaide Holl, Bedtime for Bears, Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1973.

Patsy Scarry, More about Waggy, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1973.

Miriam Anne Bourne, Four-Ring Three, Coward (New York, NY), 1973.

Mary Lystad, The Halloween Parade, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.

Kathy Darling, Little Bat's Secret, Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1974.

Robert Welber, Goodbye, Hello, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1974.

Julia Cunningham, Maybe, a Mole, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1974.

Albert Bigelow Paine, Snowed-in Book, Avon (New York, NY), 1974.

Jan Wahl, The Muffletumps' Christmas Party, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1975.

Jan Wahl, The Muffletumps' Storybook, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1975.

Carolyn S. Bailey, A Christmas Party, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1975.

Betty Boegehold, Here's Pippa Again!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1975.

Jan Wahl, The Clumpets Go Sailing, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1975.

Jan Wahl, The Muffletumps' Halloween Scare, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1977.

Jan Wahl, Doctor Rabbit's Foundling, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1977.

Tony Johnston, Night Noises, and Other Mole and Troll Stories, Putnam (New York, NY), 1977.

Mary D. Kwitz, Little Chick's Story, Harper (New York, NY), 1978.

Jan Wahl, Who Will Believe Tim Kitten?, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1978.

Adelaide Holl, Small Bear Builds a Playhouse, Garrard (Champaign, IL), 1978.

Judy Delton, Brimhall Comes to Stay, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1978.

Marjorie W. Sharmat, The 329th Friend, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1979.

Tony Johnston, Happy Birthday, Mole and Troll, Putnam (New York, NY), 1979.

Catherine Hiller, Argentaybee and the Boonie, Coward (New York, NY), 1979.

Jan Wahl, Doctor Rabbit's Lost Scout, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1979.

Betty Boegehold, Pippa Pops Out!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1979.

Betty Boegehold, Hurray for Pippa!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1980.

Patsy Scarry, Patsy Scarry's Big Bedtime Storybook, Random House (New York, NY), 1980.

Polly B. Berends, Ladybug and Dog and the Night Walk, Random House (New York, NY), 1980.

Marci Ridion, Woodsey Log Library, four volumes, Random House (New York, NY), 1981.

Margo Hopkins, Honey Rabbit, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Marci McGill, The Six Little Possums: A Birthday ABC, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Marci McGill, The Six Little Possums and the Baby Sitter, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Marci McGill, The Six Little Possums at Home, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Marci McGill, The Six Little Possums: Pepper's Good and Bad Day, Golden Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Clement C. Moore, The Night before Christmas, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Selma Lanes, selector, A Child's First Book of Nursery Tales, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1983, published as Cyndy Szekeres' Book of Nursery Tales, 1987.

Tony Johnston, Five Little Foxes and the Snow, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1987.

Betty Boegehold, Here's Pippa!, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.

Margaret Wise Brown, Whispering Rabbit, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.

Ole Risom, I Am a Kitten, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1993.

(And compiler) A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.

(And compiler) A Small Child's Book of Prayers, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.


Also illustrator of Albert Bigelow Paine's "Hollow Tree" series, three volumes, Avon, 1973, and of calendars and "My Workbook Diary"series, 1973-75.


OTHER

(Editor) Joyce Segal, It's Time to Go to Bed, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1979.


More books in the "Tiny Paw Library" series.


Cyndy Szekeres is a well-known illustrator of both her own children's books and those of such writers as Betty Boegehold, Patsy Scarry, and Jan Wahl. Szekeres began drawing at an early age and soon showed promise. As she later recalled in Something about the Author (SATA): "I can't remember a time when I didn't draw. I was the artist in the family, an aptitude inherited from my father who never had a chance to develop his talent."


A child of the late-Depression era, Szekeres drew on paper bags flattened and trimmed by her father, a toolmaker. Although she continued drawing throughout adolescence and her young-adult life, she harbored few illusions about actually working as an artist. "I assumed that I was headed for a job in a factory and probably marriage," she told SATA.


Before Szekeres graduated from high school, however, her father learned that advertising might prove a lucrative and fulfilling career for her. Though she did not plan to become a commercial artist, she enrolled at Pratt Institute at her father's urging. "I had no intention of embarking on a career in advertising," she related to SATA. "I had my heart set on becoming an illustrator."


Szekeres won admittance to Pratt and studied there until earning her certificate in 1954. Upon leaving the school, she discovered that few career opportunities existed for budding illustrators, so she obtained commercial work as a designer at display houses serving prominent New York City department stores. "Then I did children's fashion illustration for the Saks Fifth Avenue department store, requiring overly well-groomed, coiffed children wearing perfectly fit clothing," Szekeres told SATA. "This interrupted the way I usually drew children and I didn't appreciate the influence. It caused me to focus more keenly on anthropomorphic animals and I eventually decided (later on, after several books) to illustrate these animals only."

Marriage to a fellow artist in 1958 changed Szekeres' career plans. Her husband encouraged her to continue working at becoming an illustrator and gradually her luck began to turn for the better. In 1959, the publishing house Doubleday, which had been maintaining a file of Szekeres' department-store works, contacted her with a request that she produce illustrations for Sam Vaughan's New Shoes, a book for children. By this time Szekeres was pregnant with her first child, but she nonetheless accepted the Doubleday offer. The results were a success.

In the ensuing years, though her family grew, Szekeres assumed a considerable pace illustrating various children's books. In 1969, for instance, she provided drawings for five works, including Adelaide Holl's Moon Mouse, and in the next two years she illustrated five more books, including Patsy Scarry's Little Richard—Szekeres' first full-color work—Waggy and His Friends, and Little Richard and Prickles.

In 1981 Szekeres signed an exclusive contract with Western Publishing, and as of 1996, more than fourteen million copies of her books had been sold. Her success has also been confirmed by reviewers, who have noted that her books, which often feature animals with childlike personalities, are illustrated with attractive, bright artwork brimming with ingenious details.

Working beyond the parameters of Western Publishing, Szekeres has continued to build a respected list of self-illustrated works while continuing to provide illustrations for the texts of others. Among popular books in the latter category are A Small Child's Book of Prayers and A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems. Szekeres acted as editor and compiler of both of these books in addition to illustrating them. Reviewing A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems, Booklist critic Hazel Rochman praised Szekeres' "gentle, domestic line-and-watercolor pictures of animals in old-fashioned dress," and indeed such animals have become something of a trademark of this author-illustrator.

Illustrating her own texts, such as The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars, Szekeres displays her full talents for anthropomorphic tales and warm, feel-good settings. "There is a very detailed, three dimensional anthropomorphic world, up there in my head," Szekeres once told SATA. "It has been there since I could read. Now, characters rattle around in my brain, tumble out and run around my desk. When I am pleased with my work it is because I listened to them! When I am disappointed it is because I tried to please and accommodate others. There is a fine line between the two."

Booklist critic Ellen Mandel praised the world Szekeres creates in The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars, commenting on the "sunny, spring colors of golden chicks, tawny bunnies, pink blossoms, and green grass" in this "inviting bedtime tale." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the same book a "sprightly tale of a woodland bunny family getting ready to call it a day." More bunnies take center stage in Learn to Count, Funny Bunnies, a rhyming board book. Kristina Aaronson, reviewing the title in School Library Journal, felt that "children will love the rhythm of the story, the amusing illustrations, and the small size of the book."

An "energetic young mouse"—as a contributor for Publishers Weekly described the protagonist—stars in Szekeres's "Toby" series, board books with an educational intent. Numbers, the alphabet, colors, feelings, and manners are just some of the topics covered in this "spunky series" of concept books, according to the Publishers Weekly critic, who further commented that the author's "spirited artwork offers winsome particulars." In the series Toby prefers being busy to being bored, and his adventures include pretending to be a dinosaur, learning to fly, and helping with Christmas preparations. Toby received such popularity among young readers that in 2001, a stuffed toy based on the character was released to toy and book stores; Simon & Schuster also released coloring pages on their Web site for story hours and for children who want to color their own versions of Toby's adventures.

Among Szekeres' influences is another luminary of children's literature: Richard Scarry. "I am proud to have had Richard Scarry as my mentor," Szekeres once told SATA. "I never met him," she said, but "we've exchanged letters that began with his encouragement. He said, 'If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.' Sometimes, it is so hard. I was trained as a child to be obedient. It stuck! It takes discipline and conviction to be true to oneself and one's labors, to remember they should produce a smile! Encouragement is paramount. Mine, from special editors, art directors my ever-patient agent Marilyn Marlow and another most important mentor, my husband, Gennaro Prozzo (a fine artist) of forty-three years."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Pendergast, Sara, and Tom Pendergast, St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Ward, Martha E., and Dorothy A. Marquardt, Illustrators of Books for Young People, 2nd edition, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1979.


PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 1, 1985, p. 643; December 1, 1985, p. 577; March 1, 1992, p. 1287; February 1, 1997, p. 949; February 15, 1998, Ellen Mandel, review of The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars, pp. 1020-1021; January 1, 1999, p. 891; February 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of A Small Child's Book of Cozy Poems, p. 976.

Junior Literary Guild, April, 1973; September, 1974; March, 1975.

Publishers Weekly, September 26, 1977, p. 137; September 19, 1980; October 30, 1981, p. 63; March 26, 1982; June 22, 1984, p. 99; August 12, 1988, p. 455; June 15, 1992, p. 101; January 20, 1997, pp. 400-401; January 12, 1998, p. 58; January 12, 1998, review of The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars, p. 58; February 22, 1999, p. 97; June 5, 2000, review of Toby!, p. 92; January 22, 2001,"Toby,", p. 184; May 14, 2001, p. 84.

School Library Journal, April, 1985, p. 83; March, 1986, p. 153; April, 1997, p. 118; October, 1997, p. 48; March, 1998, p. 188; February, 1999, p. 89; April, 1999, p. 126; May, 2000, Kristina Aaronson, review of Learn to Count, Funny Bunnies, p. 156.

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over 3 years ago

Dear Ms. Szekeres, Just a short note to let you know how much my grndchildren love to look for the hidden eyes in your 1974, 1975, and 1976 calendars. (we can't find any eyes in 1973)......."Hide and Seek Duck" has one pair of eyes and my three-year old grandson is delighted every time I open the book.

Thank you for your great pictures!