Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Rachel Merriman (1971-) Biography - Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Rachel Merriman Biography (1971-) - Sidelights

ruby tobias tale review

British illustrator Rachel Merriman first entered the world of children's literature by providing the pictures for The Tale of Tobias, a retelling of an ancient Hebrew story from the Apocryphal Book of Tobit. Author Jan Mark hewed closely to the original story, which tells of the righteous Tobit, his son Tobias, Tobias's loyal dog, and the angel Azarias. The tale itself is bleak, as Tobit suffers numerous afflictions, but "the levity of the artwork balances the gravity of the events," Jennifer Brabander commented in Horn Book.

Merriman has also illustrated two books by Catherine Friend, Funny Ruby and Silly Ruby. These two earlyreader texts, written in very short, simple sentences, feature the adventures of a hapless sheep named Ruby. Merriman's illustrations for Funny Ruby "are done in a simple, colorful, childlike style," remarked Adele Greenlee in School Library Journal, while Christina F. Renaud noted in the same periodical that Merriman adds "bright illustrations" to Silly Ruby, complementing Friend's short text.

Merriman once told SATA: "I don't think I ever chose to be an illustrator. I feel as though illustration chose me. I read fiction and drew continually as a child, making my own miniature books, casting myself and my best school friend as central characters. I suppose I've never really grown up.

"Beatrix Potter and E. H. Shepard were favorites when I was a very young child, and I still return to them now as something to aspire to in terms of draftsmanship. Modern picture books have a much stronger 'design' bias, which is also something I enjoy enormously."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Horn Book, January-February, 1997, Jennifer Brabander, review of The Tale of Tobias, pp. 77-78.

Picture Book Quarterly, autumn, 1996.

School Librarian, May, 1996.

School Library Journal, October, 1996, Kathy Piehl, review of The Tale of Tobias, p. 115; February, 2001, Adele Greenlee, review of Funny Ruby, p. 100; March, 2001, Christina F. Renaud, review of Silly Ruby, p. 194.*

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