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Tim Egan (1957-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

review boston farm houghton

Born 1957, in Teaneck, NJ; Education: Art Center College of Design, B.F.A., 1982. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Music, art, sports, the environment.

Career

Author and illustrator. Egan Design, Canoga Park, CA, art director; Recycled Paper Greetings, Chicago, IL, writer and illustrator; also works as a freelance artist. Presenter at schools and libraries.

Member

Graphic Artists Guild.

Honors Awards

Elan Award for best logo design, 1994, and best billboard design, 1995.

Writings

SELF-ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN'S BOOKS

Friday Night at Hodges' Café, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.

Chestnut Cove, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Tim Egan

Metropolitan Cow, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.

Burnt Toast on Davenport Street, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Distant Feathers, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1998.

The Blunder of the Rogues, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

A Mile from Ellington Station, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

The Experiments of Doctor Vermin, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.

Serious Farm, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.

The Trial of Cardigan Jones, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Sidelights

Author and illustrator Tim Egan has been praised for creating unusual animal characters that appear in his offbeat, humorous stories designed for elementary-aged readers. While writing and illustrating children's books is only a part-time job for Egan—he also works as an art director and designer at his California-based studio—his books Friday Night at Hodges' Café, Burnt Toast on Davenport Street, and Serious Farm have prompted praise from readers and reviewers alike. "Egan will crack up even the dourest of readers," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic on the characteristically dry, deadpan humor of Serious Farm, while Ilene Cooper praised Egan in Booklist as "one of the most interesting author-illustrators around, always trying something new and quirky."

Egan's stories are peopled with animal characters that are not the stuff of traditional picture books. No cute kittens, rolly-polly puppies, or cuddly pigs here. Instead, Egan's menagerie includes a curmudgeonly dog who wishes that his crocodile neighbors would turn into squirrels in Burnt Toast on Davenport Street; a giant parrot that squashes town hall flat in Distant Feathers; a portly bear whose irritation over being trounced at checkers causes him to start a hurtful rumor in A Mile from Ellington Station; and a shy pig whose search for a job as a short-order cook winds him up at the door of a mad scientist in The Experiments of Doctor Vermin. While Egan's animal characters often act out feelings such as jealousy and frustration, or act from ignorance, there is little malice in them and as each story ends all wrongs are righted. In A Mile from Ellington Station, for example, Preston the bear eventually realizes the harm caused by the rumor he started. As Carey Ayres noted in School Library Journal, Egan's "offbeat tale light-heartedly reminds its readers to think of the consequences before they act."

Distant Feathers finds one Sedrick Van Pelt interrupted from his writing by a giant red parrot whose insistent pecking on Sedrick's window pane forces the distraught author into hiding. When Sedrick realizes that the giant bird is simply hungry for bread, he attempts to help. Ultimately, Sedrick is joined by his fellow townsfolk, but the clumsy and work-shirking Feathers and his lust for bread soon prove more than they can handle. Ultimately a truce is reached in a "zany" story that Cooper praised in Booklist for its "rich ink-and-watercolor art" and "a happy ending that will satisfy kids."

A coup led by Edna the cow causes all the barnyard animals on Farmer Fred's farm to high-tail it for the woods in Egan's 2003 book Serious Farm. Fred has little use for humor, and when his dourness begins to take its toll around the barnyard Edna hatches a plan to liven things up. Unfortunately, although the animals each try to make the farmer smile—the pigs try to bark like dogs, and all the animals dance around in the moonlight wearing Fred's clothes—they only succeed in amusing themselves. Finally, they leave in frustration, causing Fred to search them out and offer a truce—a sliver of a smile—while reminding them that the barnyard family needs to stick together. And besides, it's a ridiculous sight, "Cows and chickens runnin' wild in the woods," notes the ever-practical Fred. "Egan's offbeat, understated humor is used to good effect in the [book's] highly amusing text and art," noted Horn Book contributor Kitty Flynn, while in School Library Journal Carolyn Janssen praised the "humorous ink-and-watercolor illustrations" and a plot that "can't be taken too seriously." Dubbing Serious Farm "dryly funny," a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that the author captures "the awkward but heartfelt exchanges of affection that so often pass between family members, as his characters … reach a warm and realistic understanding."

"I write and illustrate for children because few things I've found are as challenging or rewarding," Egan once commented. "The subjects I write about are occasionally moralistic, but they are always written with humor in mind. I find the work of William Steig, Maurice Sendak, Etienne Delessert, and William Joyce to be inspiring and interesting.

"My writing process consists of sitting in an overstuffed chair and staring at a notebook, hoping something will happen. When it doesn't, I get more coffee. When it does, I write."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Egan, Tim, Serious Farm, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Burnt Toast on Davenport Street, p. 1434; October 15, 1997, Donna Miller, review of Friday Night at Hodges Café, p. 422; March 15, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Distant Feathers, p. 1246; April 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of A Mile from Ellington Station, p. 1563; September 1, 2002, Michael Cart, review of The Experiments of Doctor Vermin, p. 139.

Horn Book, July-August, 1996, pp. 447-448; September-October, 2003, Kitty Flynn, review of Serious Farm, p. 595.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of Serious Farm, p. 1270; July 1, 2004, review of The Trial of Cardigan Jones, p. 628.

Publishers Weekly, March 2, 1998, review of Distant Feathers, p. 68; March 15, 1999, review of The Blunder of the Rogues, p. 58; April 2, 2001, review of A Mile from Ellington Station, p. 64; November 3, 2003, review of Serious Farm, p. 74; August 16, 2004, review of The Trial of Cardigan Jones, p. 62.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Carey Ayers, review of A Mile from Ellington Station, p. 115; October, 2002, Lisa Gangemi Kropp, review of The Experiments of Doctor Vermin, p. 104; October, 2003, Carolyn Janssen, review of Serious Farm, p. 118; September, 2004, Harriett Fargnoli, review of The Trial of Cardigan Jones, p. 160.*

Richard Egielski (1952-) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights [next]

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