4 minute read

Sarah McMenemy (1965-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1965, in Welwyn Garden, England; Education: Attended Chelsea School of Art, 1983-84; Brighton University, B.A. (illustration), 1987. Hobbies and other interests: Dancing, theatre, cinema, live music, singing.


Office—Unit C105, The Chocolate Factory, Clarendon Rd., London N22 6XJ, England. Agent—Arworks, 70 Rosaline Rd., London SW6 7QT, England.


Illustrator, beginning 1987. Commercial artist, with clients including periodicals, design groups, publishers, and businesses such as Toyota, Kodak, British Airways, Mastercard, Hertz, and Royal Mail. Visiting lecturer at Chelsea School of Art, Central St. Martin's School of Art, Liverpool School of Art, and Bath School of Art. Exhibitions: Work exhibited at group shows at Royal Festival Hall, Smiths Gallery, Hardware Gallery, Artworks Gallery, and Tallberg Taylor Gallery.


Association of Illustrators.



Waggle, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Jack's New Boat, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

McMenemy's work has been translated into Japanese.

Work in Progress

More books for children.


London-based illustrator and author Sarah McMenemy brings to life the close relationship between a young girl and her high-spirited puppy with her debut children's book, Waggle. When Rosie's father brings home a new pup for the family, the two new best friends find all manner of ways to keep busy. It is Rosie's task to choose a name for her new friend, which she does when she realizes that Waggle's tail never stops moving. Praising McMenemy's simple text and "bright, uncluttered collage illustrations," Booklist reviewer Helen Rosenberg described Waggle as "a truly satisfying read-aloud," while in Publishers Weekly a reviewer noted that the author/illustrator's "playful page design and enthusiastic narration" make her "a new talent to watch." "Young readers … will instantly adore this doggy dynamo," concluded a Kirkus Reviews critic.

McMenemy, who has also authored and illustrated the picture book Jack's New Boat in her characteristic loosely drawn ink-over-collage style, told Something about the Author: "I have worked as an illustrator for years, for a largely adult audience, on a broad range of projects from regular magazine columns to packaging, brochures for cars, schools, and hospitals. I've drawn on location in New York and Paris, and made eighteen images to go on large enamel panels in Shadwell Station for the London Underground. So it was a wonderful voyage of discovery and a steep learning curve to write and illustrate a children's book. My agent had shown some pictures and little books that I had done for my own children to Walker Books at the Bologna Book Fair. I met them back in London and we decided to create a picture book together.

"In creating my first book, Waggle, it was very satisfying to be able to tell a story that combined the experiences of playing with my children and my own memories of having a puppy as a child. I really wanted to convey the sense of fun and joy that a child and puppy find wherever they are. In creating the artwork for Waggle I wanted a sense of freshness and enjoyment, a simplicity of color, line, and movement. Using pure, bold colors was a daily uplifting experience. It was also a challenge to condense all lines and shapes to an essential minimum. I relished working as part of a small team with an editor and designer as illustration can be quite a solitary occupation.

"My original inspiration for drawing came from watching my mother drawing plants and pets in the garden. As a child I was fascinated by the ease and fluidity with which her line flowed onto the page. Drawing started to become a stronger theme in my life when, as a teenager and also through college, I generated income drawing facades of elegant Victorian terraced houses where my family lived in North London and also in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whilst on an exchange trip there.

"In school I was more drawn to painters than illustrators for inspiration. I loved the graphic work of Toulouse L'Autrec, Bonnard, Picasso, Dufy, and Matisse. I know now that the work of Edward Ardizzone, Eric Ravillious, and David McKee were important influences in my childhood reading. After having my daughter, I became very interested in children's books, and quickly found I had a strong opinion about what I liked. I admire illustrators such as Emma Chichester-Clark, Charlotte Voake, Lucy Cousins, Melanie Walsh, and Patrick Benson. I think the field of children's book illustration is one of the most exciting and vibrant areas of the business at the moment. It is also refreshing that it is not dominated by computer-generated imagery.

"I have a studio in an old converted chocolate factory where we hold annual open-studio exhibitions. I love going to art exhibitions and having fun with my children. I also love the city of Paris, and have visited it many times. I stayed there once for a few months, in the Bastille area, drawing every day. Inspiration was everywhere I looked!"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 15, 2003, Helen Rosenberg, review of Waggle, p. 1672.

Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2003, review of Waggle.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of Waggle, p. 754.

Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2003, review of Waggle, p. 60.

School Library Journal, August, 2003, Carol Schene, review of Waggle, p. 138.


Sarah McMenemy Web site, http://www.sarahmcmenemy.com/ (January 17, 2005).*

Additional topics

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