Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Jackie Morris Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Jackie Morris Biography - Sidelights

review animals mariana bible

British-born children's author and illustrator Jackie Morris once remarked that she knew she wanted to become an artist at the age of six. She told Embracing the Child, "Later this desire was refined into a desire to become an illustrator after watching a TV programme of Nicola Bailey painting for The Tyger Voyage." Despite warnings from elders that a career in the arts was not practical, Morris persisted and entered Hereford College of Art for one year before moving on to Bath Academy of Art. After spending three years at Bath, the aspiring artist set off for London, portfolio in tow, hoping to find work as an illustrator. Of her time in London, Morris recalled that she "learn[ed] far more than I ever had in the comfortable environment of college." One of the illustrating jobs she landed, creating pictures to appear on greeting cards, caught the attention of author Caroline Pitcher, who had just completed a children's story and was searching for the right illustrator to create the artwork for her book. Just days before the birth of her child, Morris received a call from the publisher Bodley Head, offering her the opportunity to provide the pictures for Jo's Storm, her first of several collaborations with Pitcher.

In Mariana and the Merchild, Morris offers artwork to accompany Pitcher's retelling of a traditional tale from Chilean folklore. The combination, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "conjures a folkloric world, where nature is no less mysterious than magic." An outcast woman teased by the children in the village, Mariana lives alone on the beach, desperately longing for companionship. While walking on the beach one day after a terrible storm, the old woman finds a merbaby tucked inside of a crab shell. The mother of the merbaby asks Mariana to raise the child, keeping her safe from the dangers of the sea until she is old enough to endure them. With her new daughter, the village children no longer shun the old woman and instead delight in playing with the sea-child. Eventually, though, the merchild grows, and her mother comes to retrieve her. But the merchild never forgets her foster parent and often returns with gifts from the sea for Mariana. Booklist's Gillian Engberg thought that Morris's illustrations "bring characters to life in luminous detail that will draw young readers back into the tale." Similarly, School Library Journal contributor Tali Balas commented that the illustrator's "dramatic paintings, done in reds, blues, and greens, make the story come alive" and "the realistic portrayal of the people adds to the tale's magic."

Other authors with whom Morris has worked include Mary Hoffman, who has written several religious-themed books, including Parables: Stories Jesus Told, Miracles: Wonders Jesus Worked, and Animals of the Bible. In all of these texts, Hoffman retells the stories in a colloquial tone that speaks directly to the children hearing or reading the tales. Morris's realistic watercolor artwork, done in warm, dusty earth tones, "depicts earnest-faced people of the ancient Holy Land in a vivid landscape," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor in a review of Parables, helping to make the volume an "intimate, thought-provoking picture book." School Library Journal reviewer Patricia Pearl Dole also commented upon the "strong, melancholy, expressive faces" of Morris's characters and called the same volume "particularly reader-friendly and attractive."

Morris's paintings for Animals of the Bible were also widely praised. This book collects several stories from the Old Testament that feature animals, including "Adam Naming the Animals," "Noah's Ark," "Daniel in the Lion's Den," and "Jonah and the Whale." Morris's watercolors are "lush [and] detailed," Susan Oliver wrote in School Library Journal, and Morris "depict[s] all animals, even insects, with grace, dignity, and beauty." A Publishers Weekly reviewer echoed this theme, writing that Morris "truly excels in her depictions of birds, beasts, and sea creatures—they are realistic yet endowed with unmistakable grandeur."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, October 1, 1998, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Fourth Wise Man, p. 345; January 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of The Time of the Lion, p. 890; March 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of Mariana and the Merchild: A Folk Tale from Chile, p. 1246; January 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Animals of the Bible, pp. 897-898.

Books for Keeps, March, 1996, review of Bears, Bears, and More Bears, p. 6.

Junior Bookshelf, August, 1995, review of Bears, Bears, and More Bears, p. 129.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of Animals of the Bible, p. 307.

New York Times Book Review, December 20, 1998, Edes Gilbert, review of The Fourth Wise Man, p. 24.

Plays, December, 1996, review of The Snow Whale, p. 64.

Publishers Weekly, April 8, 1996, review of Out of the Ark: Stories from the World's Religions, p. 63; August 10, 1998, review of The Time of the Lion, p. 387; March 13, 2000, review of Mariana and the Merchild, p. 83; July 24, 2000, review of Parables: Stories Jesus Told, p. 91; July 30, 2001, review of Miracles: Wonders Jesus Worked, p. 82; March 31, 2003, review of Animals of the Bible, p. 63.

School Library Journal, April, 1996, Kathy Piehl, review of Out of the Ark, p. 145; September, 1998, Denise E. Agosto, review of Grandmother's Song, pp. 182-183; December, 1998, Martha Topol, review of The Time of the Lion, p. 88; May, 2000, Tali Balas, review of Mariana and the Merchild, p. 163; November, 2000, Patricia Pearl Dole, review of Parables, p. 142; April, 2003, Susan Oliver, review of Animals of the Bible, p. 150.


Embracing the Child, http://www.embracingthechild.com/ (May 2, 2004), "Jackie Morris."

Jackie Morris Web Site, http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/ (April 9, 2004).

Lord of the Forest Web Site, http://www.lordoftheforest.co.uk/ (May 1, 2004).

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or