Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - Career » Julia Noonan (1946-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Julia Noonan Biography (1946-) - Sidelights

review mouse illustrations book

Children's illustrator Julia Noonan has delighted many young readers with her unique style of paintings. Raised in Naugatuck, Connecticut, Noonan graduated from the Pratt Institute in 1968 with a degree in graphic arts. Shortly thereafter, she began freelance illustrating and published her first children's book, Puss in Boots, in 1970.

In the award-winning 1973 book, The Throme of the Errill of Sherill, Noonan teamed up with author Patricia A. McKillip to produce a fanciful story about Chief Cnite Caerles searching for the "Throme," a poem that, unbeknownst to Caerles, does not exist. After losing his shield and sword on the long journey, Caerles decides to write his own story, using his quest as inspiration. In Kirkus Reviews, a critic noted that "Noonan's pictures echo the mood of delicate fantasy." Noonan also illustrated Jane Yolen's The Magic Three of Solatia, a magical four-part tale about Sianna of the Song and her family's history. According to a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, "Noonan's pictures are intricate and spellbinding."

Written by Clyde Robert Bulla, A Place for Angels also features the work of Noonan. When Claudine loses her father, she takes comfort in the angels made by her father, an artist. Unfortunately, her Aunt Lona does not have the same affection for art and tries to make Claudine forget about her father and his angels. Rescued by a friend of her parents, the young girl finds a new home where she can deal with her father's death in her own way. Writing in Booklist, Carolyn Phelan praised Noonan's drawings, especially the way she "interpret[ed] the characters with a subtle grace of gesture and expression." Similarly, in a School Library Journal review, critic Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst noted that "Noonan's delicate pencil illustrations match the ethereal quality of the narrative."

Dreamland: A Lullaby, published in 1996, features a dreamy song by country music singer Mary Chapin Carpenter. Following the gentle verse, oil paintings show a diverse cast of children as they prepare for sleep. While she admits the picture book is not for everyone, Booklist contributor Susan Dove Lempke noted that some readers will find Noonan's illustrations of a "little girl cuddling with her teddy bear . . . adorable." Noonan used similar soothing illustrations in Emma and Mommy Talk to God, a 1996 volume written by Marianne and Emma Williamson. A young girl remembers her mother's words and finds them helpful during troubling situations. Describing the illustrations as "glow[ing] with a soft golden light," School Library Journal contributor Patricia Pearl Dole claimed that Noonan's paintings "give a feeling of happiness and comfort."

In 1998, Noonan created new illustrations for a story by Ruth Krauss that was originally published as The Bundle Book in 1951. With the new title You're Just What I Need, the illustrator used pastel colors to create luminous images of a mother trying to determine what has created a lump under her bed covers. The lump answers "No" to many incorrect guesses before a child pops out to announce "It's me!" Booklist's Carolyn Phelan called the work "a sweeter, more sentimental version of an old favorite," while School Library Journal critic Lisa S. Murphy remarked that the illustrations "glow as if suffused with morning light" and predicted that the story would be a favorite with toddlers.

Noonan partnered with writer Alice Schertle to illustrate When the Moon Is High, a bedtime poem for preschoolers. Unable to fall asleep, a wakeful child takes a tour outside the house with his father, looking for different animals, until he finally succumbs to slumber. A Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the "softly smudged and shaded illustrations" concentrated "on the snuggly child and the wonderful creatures" they found. Maryann H. Owen commented in School Library Journal that Noonan supplied this "gentle winner" of a book with "visually pleasing pages."

Among the books that Noonan has written and illustrated, perhaps the most widely-reviewed is Mouse by Mouse: A Counting Adventure. A cast of ten mice, each wearing the appropriate number on their clothes, gather one-by-one, drawn by the remains of a picnic. Decked out in a variety of outfits, including hats, backpacks, and in one case, snorkel and fins, the mice eat, explore, and play silly games until evening. The rhyming text creates a rhythmic patter announcing the arrival of each Ten mice enjoy the tantalizing leftovers from a picnic in Julia Noonan's amusing self-illustrated counting picture book. (From Mouse by Mouse: A Counting Adventure.) mouse. In School Library Journal, Kristin de Lacoste remarked that the "minimal text and humorous illustrations make this a perfect title for toddler and pre-school storytimes." A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that the mice rather closely resembled those created by Lily's Purple Plastic Purse author Kevin Henkes, but admired "the fun Noonan has with scale." The "softly muted and whimsical" artwork was noted by a Kirkus Reviews writer, who remarked favorably upon the "inventive and lyrical text that offers more emphasis on adventure than counting." Booklist's Lauren Peterson commented, "delightful watercolors immerse listeners in a convincing imaginary world of mouse activity."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 1, 1975, p. 574; January 1 & 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Place for Angels, p. 832; November 1, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Dreamland: A Lullaby, p. 506; July, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of You're Just What I Need, p. 1886; May 1, 2003, Lauren Peterson, review of Mouse by Mouse, p. 1605.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1974,
p. 82; June, 1975, p. 172; January, 1977, p. 72.

Horn Book, December, 1976, p. 624.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1973, p. 522; July 1, 1973, review of The Throme of the Errill of Sherill, p. 686; July 1, 1976, p. 731; March 1, 2003, review of When the Moon Is High, p. 397; May 15, 2003, review of Mouse by Mouse, p. 755.

Publishers Weekly, August 27, 1973, p. 282; December 9, 1974, review of The Magic Three of Solatia; August 2, 1976, p. 113; April 13, 1998, review of You're Just What I Need, p. 73; May 19, 2003, review of Mouse by Mouse, p. 72.

School Library Journal, October, 1976, p. 104; December, 1995, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of A Place for Angels; June, 1996, Patricia Pearl Dole, review of Emma and Mommy Talk to God, p. 112; July, 1998, Lisa S. Murphy, review of You're Just What I Need, p. 78; June, 2003, Kristin de Lacoste, review of Mouse by Mouse, p. 112; July, 2003, Maryann H. Owen, review of When the Moon Is High, p. 106.

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