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Mari Takabayashi (1960-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1960, in Tokyo, Japan; Education: Attended Otsama Women's College (Japan).


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116-3764.


Author and illustrator of children's books.


Baby's Things, Chronicle Books (New York, NY), 1994.

I Live in Tokyo, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2001.

I Live in Brooklyn, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.


Christine Loomis, Rush Hour, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

Linda Brennan Crotta, Flannel Kisses, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.

Jean Marzollo, Do You Know New?, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1998.

Patricia Hubbell, Sidewalk Trip, HarperFestival (New York, NY), 1999.

Linda Brennan Crotta, Marshmallow Kisses, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.

Also illustrator for more than twenty picture books from Japanese publishers.


Mari Takabayashi is a Japanese-born author and illustrator whose children's books have been published both in Japan and the United States. Her illustrations, often executed in pastel watercolors, have been praised for adding energy and depth to the simple, rhyming texts they accompany. Among the author/illustrator's books for English-language readers are I Live in Brooklyn and I Live in Tokyo.

In addition to illustrating her own books in a style that Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper described as "delightfully naive" and childlike, Takabayashi has created colorful artwork for the rhyming texts of other authors, including Flannel Kisses and Marshmallow Kisses by Linda Brennan Crotta. For Flannel Kisses, Takabayashi's illustrations celebrate the fun to be had on a snowy day, as children divide their time between the snowy out-of-doors and the warmth of their home, an "idyllic, plank-floored cottage … decorated with rag rugs, crocheted afghans and toys" in Takabayashi's renderings, observed a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.

"Delicate line work and lively patterns are the hallmarks of the art," commented Cooper of Takabayashi's illustrations for Crotta's follow-up work, Marshmallow Kisses; "each picture has a childlike simplicity and presence that match the text and will appeal to young audiences." Also enthusiastic about the collaboration between author and illustrator, Gay Lynn Van Vleck wrote in School Library Journal that the artist's "primitive style is brimming with details of a happy, busy, country-style home in suburbia."

In Rush Hour, written by Christine Loomis, Takabayashi depicts the varied activities of the masses as they commute to work via car, bus, train, or airplane. Filled with "seemingly inexhaustible, enjoyable details," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, Takabayashi's illustrations "are a kaleidoscope of color, pattern and activity." For John Peters in School Library Journal, they "effectively capture the hustle and bustle of it all." Because the book ends with the joyful reunion of parents returning home from work to be with their children, the result is "a loving, comforting book for grownups to share with their children," contended Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist.

Takabayashi once told Something about the Author: "I moved to New York in 1990, and I started to work for American publishers. I like to work for American publishers because I can draw many races. Also, New York City, where I live, inspires me a lot. My two kids give me ideas. When I draw pictures for American publishers I always put Asian kids somewhere."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, October 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Flannel Kisses, p. 411; September 15, 1999, Kathy Broderick, review of Skidewalk Trip, p. 268; March 15, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Marshmallow Kisses, p. 1385.

Publishers Weekly, August 25, 1997, review of Flannel Kisses, p. 71.

School Library Journal, September, 1996, John Peters, review of Rush Hour, p. 184; July, 1999, p. 74; March, 2000, Gay Lynn Van Vleck, review of Marshmallow Kisses, p. 189.


Mari Takabayashi Web site, http://www.maritakabayashi.com/ (January 5, 2005)*.

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