6 minute read

John Wallace (1966-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 1966, in Felixstowe, England; Education: St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, degree (theology). Religion: Church of England. Hobbies and other interests: Football (soccer), gardening.


office—The Annexe, Belmont St., Brighton BN1 4HN, England.


Writer and illustrator. Daily Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica, staff cartoonist, 1987; artist for British Museum, 1989.



Little Bean, Collins (London, England), 1996.

Little Bean's Friend, Collins (London, England), 1996, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 1997.

Little Bean's Holiday, Collins (London, England), 1997.

Building a House with Mr. Bumble, Walker (London, England), 1997.

Dressing up with Mr. Bumble, Walker (London, England), 1997.

The Twins, Collins (London, England), 1996, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Tiny Rabbit Goes to a Birthday Party, Viking (New York, NY), 1999.

Jungle Kids, Collins (London, England), 1999.

Pirate Boy, Collins (London, England), 2002.

Monster Toddler, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

Anything for You, illustrated by Harry Horse, Puffin (London, England), 2003, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

It's You, Daddy, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.

Wallace's books have been translated into other languages.


Lois Rock, Little Chick's Easter Surprise, Lion (Oxford, England), 1997.

John Foster, Bouncing Ben (poetry), Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1998.

John Foster, Doctor Proctor (poetry), Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1998.

Sally Crabtree, One Spinning Spider, David & Charles (London, England), 1999.

Sally Crabtree, Two Buzzy Bees, David & Charles (London, England), 1999.

Laura Godwin, The Flower Girl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Lynea Bowdish, Thunder Doesn't Scare Me, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Janet S. Wong, Grump, Margaret K. McEldery Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Hope Vestergaard, Baby Love, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.

Stuart J. Murphy, One … Two … Three … Sassafras!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Marion Dane Bauer, Snow, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.

Marion Dane Bauer, Rain, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2004.

Marion Dane Bauer, Clouds, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2004.

Hello Sunshine, Good Night Moon (poetry anthology), Harry H. Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.


The Twins was adapted as a cartoon series, ITV, 2000; Jungle Kids was adapted as an animated film by Cosgrove Hall.


Fueling the imaginations of young listeners in both the United States and England, Little Bean is the title character of three books by self-taught British artist and author John Wallace. Wallace's popular character, a spunky, pigtailed girl, is introduced in 1996's Little Bean, and she makes her second appearance in Little Bean's Friend. The story begins with Little Bean happily playing with pots, pans, and other banging things, when her father suggests she take her exuberant play out into the garden. Outside, Little Bean and her dog Bouncer get a bit carried away with their fun, sending Little Bean's favorite bear sailing over the garden wall. The neighbor brings her son Paul over to return the bear, and Little Bean's father invites Paul to play. Playing together, Little Bean and Nice Paul have double the fun Little Bean experienced playing by herself. Claiming the book is "sure to win hearts," Booklist critic GraceAnne A. DeCandido found "Little Bean's round-headed, pigtailed charm [and] the freshness of the watercolors … warm and inviting." Also recognizing the character as endearing, a Junior Bookshelf critic wrote that Little Bean, "easily recognisable" in her "unusual plaits," could potentially "establish herself as an enduring picture book character." In a review of Little Bean's Friend for Horn Book, Martha V. Parravano praised Wallace's ability "to capture, seemingly effortlessly, the essence of being a toddler."

Since introducing Little Bean, Wallace has gone on to entertain young readers with several more engaging characters. The picture book Anything for You features a mother bear and her son Little Charlie, a helpful young cub whose affection is made clear through his efforts to help and cooperate in both bath and bedtime. Tiny Rabbit Goes to a Birthday Party finds a young bunny excited about his first experience as a party guest, and his excitement and anticipation "may well give a needed shot of confidence to young partygoers," according to a Publishers Weekly writer. In The Twins readers meet Lil and Nelly, who are as different as different can be despite their appearance. The meticulous Lil aspires to be a princess, and looks down on her sister Nelly, whose tomboyish ways include caring for a pet snail and dreaming of becoming a truck driver. The girls' differences are brought to light when Lil decides to write her autobiography for a school contest: her tidy, typed pages are secretly "amended" with Nell's untidily written, but more realistic commentary, causing initial problems but a positive ending. "Wallace's light-as-air watercolors have an appealing loopiness," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, adding that The Twins shows the sister's strong affection for one another even as it illustrates their differences.

Charlotte loves her younger brother, Timothy, but when he dons a monster suit in Monster Toddler he is transformed into the classic pesky younger brother. After disrupting Charlotte's efforts at quiet play, the rascally toddler forces his sister into her room, only to be called back again when Timothy has made such a mess in his own room that he can't get out. While a Publishers Weekly reviewer described the book as a "moralistic portrayal of misbehavior," Ilene Cooper in Booklist dubbed Monster Toddler a "dead-on story" and added that Wallace's "energetic art … is varied enough to keep young eyes interested." In School Library Journal, Rosalyn Pierini praised the book's "winsome pastel-tinted illustrations," which depict the mischievous Timothy creating "the kind of havoc for which pesky little brothers the world over are renowned."

In addition to writing and illustrating his own picture books, Wallace has contributed artwork to books by Hope Vestergaard, Sally Crabtree, and Janet S. Wong, among other authors. His illustrations for Wong's 2001 picture book Grump enhance a story about a busy toddler whose antics keep his mother on the verge of frustration. Wallace's "bright colors and clean lines will capture the attention of young listeners," noted School Library Journal reviewer Joy Fleishhacker, while in Publishers Weekly a reviewer wrote that the illustrator's "delicate watercolor vignettes with their sunny translucency keep the mood [of Wong's text] upbeat."

Wallace once told Something about the Author: "I write and illustrate books for pre-school children. What motivates me is producing work that children will find fun. I don't believe we can ever match a child's imagination. We can only hope to fuel it."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, June 1, 1997, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Little Bean's Friend, p. 1723; February 1, 2000, John Peters, review of Tiny Rabbit Goes to a Birthday Party, p. 1030; August, 2001, Kathy Broderick, review of The Twins, p. 2133; June 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Monster Toddler, p. 1788.

Horn Book, September-October, 1997, Martha V. Parravano, review of Little Bean's Friend, p. 566.

Junior Bookshelf, December, 1996, review of Little Bean's Friend, p. 243.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1997, pp. 66-67; July 15, 2002, review of One … Two … Three … Sassafras!, p. 1039; November 15, 2002, review of Baby Love, p. 1702; February 15, 2004, review of Anything for You, p. 186.

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1996, review of Little Bean, p. 96; February 14, 2000, review of Tiny Rabbit Goes to a Birthday Party, p. 197; January 1, 2001, review of Grump, p. 91; April 2, 2001, review of The Twins, p. 63; November 4, 2002, review of Baby Love, p. 83; May 5, 2003, review of Monster Toddler, p. 219; February 9, 2004, review of Anything for You, p. 79.

School Library Journal, February, 2001, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of The Flower Girl, p. 100; March, 2001, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Grump, p. 224; August, 2003, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Monster Toddler, p. 145; April, 2004, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Anything for You, p. 126.

Times Educational Supplement, March 21, 1997, p. 9; March 28, 1997, p. 11.


John Wallace Web site, http://www.johnwallace.co.uk/ (October 26, 2004).*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Theodosius I to David Watmough Biography - David Watmough comments: