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Frank Remkiewicz (1939-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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Born 1939, in Rockville, CT; Education: Art Center College of Design, B.P.A. (with honors), 1965.

Addresses

Agent—Kendra Marcus, 67 Meadow View Rd., Orinda, CA 94563.

Career

Norcross Greeting Cards, New York, NY, staff illustrator, 1968-73; freelance author and illustrator, 1973-92.

Honors Awards

New York Times Ten Best of the Season citation, 1991, for The Last Time I Saw Harris; I Hate Camping named a Children's Book of the Year by Bank Street College; Children's Choice Award, National Council for Reading, 1992.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED

The Last Time I Saw Harris, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1991.

Greedyanna, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1992.

Final Exit for Cats: A Feline Suicide Guide, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

There's Only One Harris, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1993.

The Bone Stranger, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1994.

Fiona Wraps It Up, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1995.

ILLUSTRATOR; "HORRIBLE HARRY" SERIES; BY SUZY KLINE

Horrible Harry in Room 2-B, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.

Horrible Harry and the Green Slime, Viking (New York, NY), 1989.

Horrible Harry and the Ant Invasion, Viking (New York, NY), 1989.

Horrible Harry's Secret, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.

Horrible Harry and the Christmas Surprise, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Horrible Harry and the Dungeon, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

Horrible Harry and the Purple People, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

Horrible Harry and the Drop of Doom, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Horrible Harry Goes to the Moon, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Horrible Harry at Halloween, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Horrible Harry Goes to Sea, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Horrible Harry and the Dragon War, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Horrible Harry and the Mud Gremlins, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Horrible Harry and the Holidaze, Viking (New York, NY), 2003, also published as Horrible Harry's Holiday Story.

Horrible Harry and the Locked Closet, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Horrible Harry and the Goog, Viking (New York, NY), 2005).

ILLUSTRATOR; "SONG LEE" SERIES; BY SUZY KLINE

Song Lee in Room 2-B, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Song Lee and the Hamster Hunt, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

Song Lee and the Leech Man, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Song Lee and the "I Hate You" Notes, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

ILLUSTRATOR; "FROGGY" SERIES; BY JONATHAN LONDON

Froggy Gets Dressed, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Let's Go Froggy, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.

Froggy Learns to Swim, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Froggy Goes to School, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

Froggy's First Kiss, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.

Froggy Plays Soccer, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

Froggy's Halloween, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

Froggy Bakes a Cake, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Froggy Goes to Bed, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Froggy's Best Christmas, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.

Froggy Eats Out, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Froggy Takes a Bath, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

Froggy Plays in the Band, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Froggy Goes to the Doctor, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.

Froggy's Day with Dad, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

ILLUSTRATOR

Jean Fisher, editor, Manuscript Writing, Western Publishing, 1984.

Sarah Leslie, The Saggy Baggy Elephant and the New Dance, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Lada J. Kratky, En chivo en la huerta, Hampton-Brown (Carmel, CA), 1988.

Jean Langerman, No Carrots for Harry!, Parents Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Alma Flor Ada, Una semilla nada mas, Hampton-Brown (Carmel, CA), 1990.

Ellen Jackson, Ants Can't Dance, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1991.

P. J. Petersen, I Hate Camping, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.

Patricia R. Giff, I Love Saturday, Puffin Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Nancy Lamb, The Great Mosquito, Bull, and Coffin Caper, Lothrop (Boston, MA), 1992.

Betsy Byars, The Joy Boys, Yearling (New York, NY), 1996.

Jonathan London, Little Red Monkey, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.

Bill Maynard, Incredible Ned, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.

Stuart J. Murphy, Just Enough Carrots, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.

Mary Quattlebaum, The Magic Squad and the Dog of Great Potential, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.

Taylor Jordan, Hiccup, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Bill Maynard, Quiet, Wyatt!, Putnam (New York, NY), 1999.

Stuart J. Murphy, Rabbit's Pajama Party, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

David Martin, Piggy and Dad, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Stuart J. Murphy, Seaweed Soup, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

J. Patrick Lewis, Arithme-tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.

David Martin, Piggy and Dad Play, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Stuart J. Murphy, Less than Zero, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.

J. Patrick Lewis, Scien-trickery: Riddles in Science, Silver Whistle (San Diego, CA), 2004.

Illustrator of single-panel cartoons for various northern California newspapers.

Author's works have been translated into French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish.

Adaptations

Several of the "Horrible Harry" and "Froggy" books have been adapted as sound recordings.

Sidelights

Author and illustrator Frank Remkiewicz has illustrated children's books by many authors, including Alma Flor Ada and Betsy Byars. His self-illustrated works have met with positive critical reception, but he is perhaps best known as the illustrator for the popular "Horrible Harry" and "Song Lee" series, written by Suzy Kline, and the "Froggy" series, written by Jonathan London. Remkiewicz's drawings have been described by Diane Roback of Publishers Weekly as "bold swatches of color crisply outlined."

Remkiewicz's first book with Kline appeared in 1988, introducing second grader Horrible Harry in Horrible Harry in Room 2-B. Narrated by Harry's friend Doug, the "Horrible Harry" series tells how Harry plays pranks and gets into trouble in room 2-B. As the series progresses, Harry develops a crush on classmate Song Lee—who has books in her own series—finds an archenemy in classmate Sidney, and progresses on with his classmates into the third grade. Whether facing a terrifying amusement park ride called the "Drop of Doom," solving mysteries of missing costume pieces at Halloween, or surviving being covered by leeches, Harry, Doug, Song Lee, and Sidney are always depicted in Remkiewicz's humorous illustrations. April Judge, reviewing Song Lee and the Leech Man for Booklist, commented that "Remkiewicz's cartoonlike black-ink sketches are well suited to the comic story" by Kline. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews commented on the combination of "Lively text and humorous drawings" in a review of Horrible Harry Goes to Sea, while Carolyn Phelan, reviewing the same title for Booklist, added that "Remkiewicz's cheerful ink drawings heighten the appeal." Another Kirkus Reviews critic, reviewing Horrible Harry and the Dragon War, maintained that "Remkiewicz's signature illustrations add life" to the story.

In 1992 Remkiewicz teamed up with London for Froggy Gets Dressed, the first book introducing readers to the misadventures of Froggy and his friends. Froggy seems to mess up all the time, but everything manages to turn out all right. When Froggy tries to play soccer in Froggy Plays Soccer, for instance, he manages to get knocked over by flying balls, miss important plays, and catch the ball with his hands. Even so, he manages to redeem himself by scoring a winning goal. In Booklist, Kay Weisman commented, "Remkiewicz's brightly colored artwork enhances London's humorous text." In Froggy Goes to Bed, Froggy stalls as long as he can to stay awake just a little bit longer. He has managed to hide all the things he needs for bed—his pajamas, toothbrush, etc.—throughout the house, and can only go to sleep after a thorough search. Elizabeth O'Brien in School Library Journal noted that the "bold, funny cartoons vary," appearing as small illustrations or full spreads, and Carolyn Phelan commented in her Booklist review that the artist's illustrations are "notable for their buoyancy of line and vibrancy of colors." In Froggy Eats Out Froggy goes out to a nice restaurant with his parents only to make a mess of everything, even in front of his crush Frogilina. After disaster at the restaurant, Froggy's parents try to make everything better by taking him out to the local "fast flies place." Gillian Engberg praised how the "bright, cartoonlike drawings" express Froggy's "irrepressible energy." In Froggy Plays in the Band, Froggy and all his friends, including Frogilina, join the marching band. This time it is Frogilina who causes catastrophe; when she misses a baton toss, it hits Froggy in the head and knocks him out right in front of the judges. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews, while noting that the book's plot seemed somewhat forced, wrote that "Remkiewicz's illustrations keep the atmosphere as endearing as possible." Wanda Meyers-Hines, reviewing for School Library Journal, thought Froggy fans would be equally delighted by Froggy Plays in the Band and praised the book for its "vividly colorful and animated signature illustrations." In Froggy Goes to the Doctor Froggy is excited to have a day off from school, but loses his enthusiasm when he realizes seeing the doctor might mean getting a shot. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the story is "energized by Remkiewicz's bustling watercolors."

Remkiewicz teams up with Bill Maynard for two titles: Incredible Ned and Quiet, Wyatt! In the first story, Ned is a boy whose words manage to spring directly to life from his mouth. If he says "giraffe" in class, for instance, a real giraffe springs to life in front of his classroom. It is only through the help of an art teacher who teaches Ned to express himself through painting that Ned manages to free himself from his peculiar difficulties. Maynard and Remkiewicz's second book together, Quiet, Wyatt!, expresses Wyatt's frustration that everyone is always telling him to be quiet, whether they are older kids who don't have time to play with him, or adults who tell him he is too young to do the things he wants. Wyatt at first rebels, then becomes stubbornly quiet, only speaking in order to save a puppy whose life is in danger. When Wyatt saves the puppy, everyone who had hushed him before praises him for bravely speaking out. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented on Remkiewicz's "cartoonishly cute characters," and Hazel Rochman, writing in Booklist, noted that the "child-centered pictures show … the kid's view of what's important."

Remkiewicz has published several titles which he both writes and illustrates. The Last Time I Saw Harris tells the story of Edmund and his best friend, Harris the parrot. Harris can perform a number of unusual tricks, including identifying colors. When Edmund is about to teach Harris the color purple, a strong wind blows the parrot away, and Edmund and a chauffeur must set out to find him. Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper found "most of the humor coming from the brightly colored, cartoon-style illustrations," while Martha V. Parravano concluded in Horn Book that in The Last Time I Saw Harris the "flat, spacious pictures … match the droll, understated—though utterly absurd—tale. A delightful concoction."

Remkiewicz's next work shares with The Last Time I Saw Harris a plot that relies on a common situation taken to the extreme for comic effect. Narrated by Anna's brother, Eddie, Greedyanna is about a demanding girl whose parents indulge her wishes because they believe that her behavior is only a passing phase. Anna eventually has her parents sleeping on the ground and eating lima beans during a family camping trip because she wants the tent to herself and she hates lima beans. Virginia E. Jeschelnig remarked in School Library Journal that "the watercolor cartoons nicely convey the humor of Eddie's predicament and carry the story for prereaders. Anna's antics will surely amuse, and may even encourage an errant child to share."

In The Bone Stranger Remkiewicz creates a canine version of the Old West Lone Ranger hero. Boney, who runs a delicatessen, and his friend and employee Wolfgang, a recent immigrant to the Old West, may be regular citizens by day, but by night, Boney and Wolfgang fight crime in such forms as the thieves, the Raccoon Brothers. Boney wears a mask, inviting the townsfolk rescued from the notorious raccoons to ask, "Who is that masked dog?" Nancy Vasilakis, writing in Horn Book, called The Bone Stranger "an absurdly funny takeoff on the Lone Ranger legend."

Fiona Wraps It Up, Remkiewicz's 1995 tale, features Fiona, a pink flamingo who speaks in rhyme. Fiona is about to lay an egg when she and her flock leave for their nesting grounds. But when Fiona flies with her eyes closed after bragging she can do it, she gets entirely lost and has to transport her egg to safety, avoiding such dangers as alligators and other hungry creatures. After meeting other rhyming characters, such as Rappin' Cap'n Otter, Fiona makes her way to safety, and when her egg hatches, her baby also speaks in rhyme.

Remkiewicz once told SATA: "I was that kind of kid who was always reading or drawing. Since I was drawing well before I started school, I always considered art to have seniority over the likes of long division or medieval history. This attitude got me into difficulties more than once. My favorite subjects were horses, cartoons, wildlife, and contraptions that rolled, floated, tooted, or flew. My heroes of the day were illustrators like Bill Peet, Robert Lawson, and Kurt Weiss. They provided me with a screen-full of imagery that I'll never forget.

"Winter in kindergarten found us all painting Santa. Mine came out so well that I was to do it over again on a huge piece of brown paper that covered the chalkboard. Santa was bigger than me. I was excused from the regular stuff, given bigger brushes, more paint and sure enough … here came Santa. Other teachers saw the mural sized figure and 'borrowed' me to do the same for their classrooms. Flattered but embarrassed, I took heart since these gigs were getting me out of a lot of tedious activities like nap time, scissors, yarn, and flash cards. 'All I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten' may be true. Twenty years later I found myself on Madison Avenue at Norcross Greeting Cards … yes, drawing Santa Claus.

"I've always been drawn to the field of humor. Since I'm writing and illustrating my own stories now, I try to make them funny in an outrageous or off-the-wall way. During classroom presentations, again … I find myself by the chalkboard in front of the kids. Now we are seeking ways to write and draw those ideas that squeeze their way through the every day chores of our minds. It's a thrill to watch my own book being read by a group of children and I like it when they smile, but I love it when they laugh."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 1, 1990, Hazel Rochman, review of Horrible Harry's Secret, p. 751; November 15, 1991, Ilene Cooper, review of The Last Time I Saw Harris, p. 631; October 1, 1992, Hazel Rochman, review of Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding, p. 327; October 1, 1995, April Judge, review of Song Lee and the Leech Man, p. 316; October 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Just Enough Carrots, p. 336; December 1, 1997, Linda Perkins, review of Little Red Monkey, p. 642; February 15, 1998, Kay Weisman, review of Horrible Harry and the Drop of Doom, p. 1012; October 15, 1998, Lauren Peterson, review of Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade, p. 422; March 1, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Froggy Plays Soccer, p. 1221; May 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Song Lee and the "I Hate You" Notes, p. 1594; June 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Quiet, Wyatt!, p. 1842; December 1, 1999, Marta Segal, review of Rabbit's Pajama Party, p. 708; March 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Froggy Goes to Bed, p. 1250; September 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Horrible Harry at Halloween, p. 241; June 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Froggy Eats Out, p. 1892; December 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Horrible Harry Goes to Sea, p. 643; June 1, 2002, Karen Hutt, review of Horrible Harry and the Dragon War, p. 1740; March 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Horrible Harry and the Mud Gremlins, p. 1327; September 1, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Horrible Harry and the Holidaze, p. 134.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1989, Betsy Hearne, review of Horrible Harry and the Green Slime, p. 227.

Children's Book Review Service, February, 1992, p. 76; July, 1992, p. 149.

Horn Book, September-October, 1991, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Last Time I Saw Harris, p. 588; May-June, 1994, Nancy Vasilakis, review of The Bone Stranger, p. 319.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1992, p. 620; July 15, 1994, review of Song Lee and the Hamster Hunt, p. 987; September 15, 2001, review of Horrible Harry Goes to Sea, p. 1360; December 1, 2001, review of Froggy Plays in the Band, p. 1686; April 15, 2002, review of Horrible Harry and the Dragon War, p. 572; August 1, 2002, review of Froggy Goes to the Doctor, p. 1135; February 1, 2003, review of Horrible Harry and the Mud Gremlins, p. 233.

Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1991, p. 61; March 15, 1992, Diane Roback, review of Greedyanna, p. 79; May 23, 1994, review of The Bone Stranger, p. 87; August 11, 1997, review of Incredible Ned, p. 401; June 14, 1999, review of Quiet, Wyatt!, p. 69;

School Library Journal, November, 1991, Virginia E. Jeschelnig, review of Greedyanna, p. 107; September, 1993, Maggie McEwen, review of Song Lee in Room 2B, pp. 209-210; July, 1994, Jody McCoy, review of The Bone Stranger, p. 88; September, 1994, Christina Dorr, review of Song Lee and the Hamster Hunt, p. 187; March, 1995, John Peters, review of Fiona Wraps It Up, p. 186; September, 1997, Carrie A. Guarria, review of Horrible Harry and the Purple People, p. 184; November, 1997, Nina Lindsay, review of Little Red Monkey, p. 91; December, 1997, Pamela K. Bomboy, review of Just Enough Carrots, p. 113; March, 1998, Lauralyn Persson, review of Froggy's First Kiss, p. 182; August, 1998, Suzanne Hawley, review of Horrible Harry and the Drop of Doom, p. 142; September, 1998, Linda Binder, review of Horrible Harry Moves up to Third Grade, p. 175; June, 1999, Pat Leach, review of Song Lee and the "I Hate You" Notes, p. 99; September, 1999, Susan Lissim, review of Rabbit's Pajama Party, p. 198; February, 2000, Pat Leach, review of Horrible Harry Goes to the Moon, p. 96; June, 2000, Elizabeth O'Brien, review of Froggy Goes to Bed, p. 119; September, 2000, Janie Schomberg, review of Horrible Harry at Halloween, p. 202; October, 2000, S. P., review of Froggy's Best Christmas, p. 61; November, 2001, Ashley Larsen, review of Horrible Harry Goes to Sea, p. 127; January, 2002, Judith Constantinides, review of Seaweed Soup, p. 122; April, 2002, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Froggy Plays in the Band, p. 116; August, 2002, Laurie von Mehren, review of Horrible Harry and the Dragon War, p. 159; October, 2003, Eva Mitnick, review of Horrible Harry and the Holidaze, p. 65.*

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