Ted Dewan (1961-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1961, in Boston, MA; Education: Brown University, degree (engineering and electronic music); studied art with author/illustrator David Macaulay. Hobbies and other interests: Music.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, David Fickling Books, 31 Beaumont St., Oxford OX1, England.
Milton Academy, Boston, MA, physics instructor for five years; illustrator and cartoonist, 1988—.
Society of Authors (former chairman, Children's Writers and Illustrators Group), Royal Institution.
Mother Goose Award, and Times Educational Supplement Information Award shortlist (for foreign editions), both 1992, both for Inside the Whale and Other Animals; Kurt Maschler Award shortlist, 1997, for The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN
(Reteller) Three Billy Goats Gruff, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1994, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.
Top Secret: Don't Breathe a Word, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1996, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1997.
(Reteller) The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Music of Magic and Electricity (based on Der Zauberhling by Wolfgang von Goethe; includes audiotape), Corgi (London, England), 1997, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.
The Weatherbirds (nonfiction), Puffin (London, England), 1999.
Crispin, the Pig Who Had It All, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2000.
Baby Gets the Zapper, Transworld (London, England), 2001, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, Transworld (London, England), 2002, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
"BING BUNNY" SERIES: SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN
Bing: Something for Daddy, David Fickling (New York, NY), 2003.
Bing: Paint Day, David Fickling (New York, NY), 2003.
Bing: Get Dressed, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Bing: Bed Time, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Bing: Go Picnic, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Bing: Make Music, David Fickling Books (New York, NY), 2004.
ILLUSTRATOR; FOR CHILDREN
Grace L. Mitchell and Harriet Chmela, I Am, I Can: A Preschool Curriculum, Telshare, 1977.
Steve Parker, Inside the Whale and Other Animals, Dorling Kindersley (London, England), 1992.
Steve Parker, Inside Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures, Dorling Kindersley (London, England), 1993, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.
Kit Wright, Rumpelstiltskin, Hippo (London, England), 1998.
Helen Cooper, Sandmare, Corgi (London, England), 2001, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2004.
Elizabeth Kay, The Divide, Chicken House, 2003.
Elizabeth Laird, The Ice Cream Swipe, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England, 2003.
Elizabeth Kay, The Half Twist, Chicken House, 2005.
ILLUSTRATOR; FOR ADULTS
Robert Ornstein, The Evolution of Consciousness, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1991.
Robert Ornstein, The Roots of the Self: Unraveling the Mystery of Who We Are, HarperCollins (San Francisco, CA), 1993.
James Burke and Robert Ornstein, The Axemaker's Gift, Putnam (New York, NY), 1995.
Marc D. Hauser, Wild Minds, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.
Dewan's illustrations have appeared in British newspapers, including as regular features in London Times, and Guardian.
An American-born artist who now makes his home in Great Britain, Ted Dewan has been praised for creating book illustrations that feature his characteristic quirky, engaging style. Using his artistic skills, timely marketing, and creative concepts, Dewan encourages readers to find new appreciation for familiar material. Books for Keeps contributor Pam Harwood admired the author's "'cool' language" and "bright, lively pictures," which bring Dewan's adaptation of the time-honored story Three Billy Goats Gruff back to life. Among original tales, Dewan has also authors the self-illustrated picture books Baby Gets the Zapper and Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, as well as several volumes in the ongoing "Bing Bunny" series of picture books for the toddler set. Praising Bing: Get Dressed from the series, Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that "it's hard to know what's more fun here, the computer-collage art or the satisfying way Dewan captures a child's world."
After studying engineering at Brown University and teaching physics at Milton Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, Dewan decided to make a career change. He began illustrating nonfiction books for both children and adults, including several volumes by science writer Steve Parker. Published in 1992, Inside the Whale showcases Dewan's pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings alongside Parker's examination of the morphology of the world's largest mammals. Similar in format, Inside Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures investigates the processes used by modern scientists to recreate detailed models of dinosaurs. School Library Journal contributor Cathryn A. Camper praised both books for using "humor and imagination, instead of knives" to examine the anatomy of these creatures.
With the success of his illustrations for Parker, Dewan moved on to create his own stories for children, and he attempts to explain one of the great mysteries of childhood in Top Secret. Published in 1996, Top Secret reveals, in a comic-book format, the complex technology and heroic bravery responsible for the legend of the tooth fairy. In Dewan's book, the "new kid," one of seven turtle-like creatures, describes the dangerous mission with which his crew has been charged. Their goal: undetected tooth extraction from beneath the pillow of a sleeping girl and replacement of said tooth with a shiny coin. School Library Journal contributor Karen James noted Dewan's humorous peppering of technical jargon, such as "zip cable" and "Slumber Zone," to augment the text. Citing the combination of "catchy lingo of the narration and the Lego-like machines," a Kirkus Reviews critic called Top Secret "adventurous fun, especially for the mechanically inclined," while Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan wrote that "Children will enjoy the visual wit and pizzazz that characterizes this original picture book."
The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Dewan's next endeavor, is an original story based on a ballad by eighteenth-century German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It is doubtful, however, that Goethe could have imagined a robot cast in the title role. In a workshop that School Librarian contributor Anne Rowe described as "a cross between a metal workshop and Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory," Dewan's modern-day sorcerer puts together gears, wires, bulbs, transistors, and other mechanical things to create new inventions. Because his workshop has becoming cluttered with bits of left-over stuff, he wires together a savvy robot apprentice to clean up after him. The first robot, who quickly becomes addicted to technology himself in the form of television, accumulates enough stuff to build a successor to perform all the hard work; the new robot does the same. So it goes, until the robots revolt against the sorcerer, forcing the inventor to flip the "off" switch on the entire mechanical crew, all except his original apprentice. A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Sorcerer's Apprentice a "post-modern melodrama" that "cautions against cloning, environmental depletion and television," while a Kirkus reviewer dubbed the work a "rollicking remake of the classic tale." Drawing on his interest in electronic music, Dewan also created a musical accompaniment to compliment his visual story, arranging compositions by Paul-Abraham Dukas and Camille Saint-Saëns and including his own, titled "The March of the Robots."
Wealthy young porker Crispin Tamworth is introduced in Dewan's Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All, which focuses on what Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper called "a familiar theme, made fresh and funny thanks to a witty yet heartfelt text and eye-popping art." Getting anything and everything he wants, Crispin values next to nothing, and his room soon becomes a dumping ground for broken and discarded toys of all sorts. Still, there is always something new to want, and when Santa leaves him nothing but an empty box one Christmas, the pig is more than a little petulant. Fortunately, with the help of resourceful new friends Penny and Nick, he learns that a toy's real value is having someone to share it with. The flip side of sharing, sharing his family with a new sibling, is the focus of Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, which finds Crispin out of the limelight when his mother brings home three new siblings. In School Library Journal Barbara Buckley praised Dewan's "cleverness," noting that the illustrations of Crispin and his endlessly exercising mother in their upper-middle-class home "give real personalities to all of the characters." Also enjoying Dewan's humorous twist on the classic story about the three little pigs, Julie Cummins wrote in Booklist that Crispin and the Three Little Piglets is enlivened by "puckish, humorous illustrations . . . burst[ing] with details that reflect real life with a twist."
Each of Dewan's books takes up to eight months to create, from idea to finished art, and most of that time is spent on the illustrations. Noting on his Web site that he chose not to major in art during college because "I didn't think I was groovy enough to fit in with the other art students (I didn't have any black clothes)," Dewan offered this encouragement to aspiring illustrators: "The best way to become good at drawing is to do a lot of it. Too many people stop drawing when they're ten because suddenly they get worried that they're not good enough. You have to keep practicing if you want to get better."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July, 1992, p. 1935; March 15, 1994, p. 1345; April 1, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Top Secret, p. 1337; November 15, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All, p. 638; April 1, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, p. 1401; February 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Bing: Get Dressed, p. 1062.
Books for Keeps, September, 1995, Pam Harwood, review of Three Billy Goats Gruff, p. 10; May, 1996, p. 24.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1997, review of Top Secret, p. 140; December 1, 1997, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 1774; January 1, 2002, review of Baby Gets the Zapper, p. 43; December 15, 2002, review of Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, p. 1849.
New York Times Book Review, June 28, 1992, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, February 7, 1994, p. 88; February 24, 1997, review of Top Secret, p. 90; January 12, 1998, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 59; January 19, 2004, review of Bing: Get Dressed and Bing: Paint Day, p. 74.
School Librarian, November, 1997, Anne Rowe, review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, p. 185.
School Library Journal, July, 1992, p. 81; April, 1994, Cathryn A. Camper, review of Inside Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures, p. 144; March, 1997, Karen James, review of Top Secret, p. 150; March, 2003, Barbara Buckley, review of Crispin and the Three Little Piglets, p. 191; July, 2004, Olga R. Kuharets, review of Bing: Get Dressed, p. 69.
Times Educational Supplement, September 29, 1995, p. 10; October 25, 1996, p. 12; October 3, 1997, p. 9; November 7, 1997, p. 11.
Ted Dewan Web site, http://www.homepage.ntlworld.com/ted.dewan/tedpages/ (February 1, 2005).*