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Jill McElmurry Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

Born in CA; partner of Eric Webster. Education: Attended State University of New York at Purchase and School of Visual Arts. Hobbies and other interests: House renovation, movies, dancing.


Agent—Marcia Wernick, Sheldon Fogelman, Inc., 10 East 40th St., New York, NY 10016.


Writer and illustrator.



Mad about Plaid!, Morrow Junior Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Mess Pets, SeaStar Books (New York, NY), 2002.

I'm Not a Baby!, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.


Lilian Moore, I'm Small and Other Verses, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Dayle Ann Dodds, The Kettles Get New Clothes, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Stephanie Spinner, It's A Miracle!: A Hanukkah Storybook, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.

Reeve Lindbergh, Our Nest, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.


California-born author and illustrator Jill McElmurry has followed her family's tradition in the arts by becoming an illustrator. Although she attended both the State University of New New and the school of Visual Arts in New York City, McElmurry is predominately self-taught, and has been drawing and painting since she was a child. In addition to creating illustrations for books by writers Lilian Moore, Reeve Lindbergh, and Dayle Ann Dodds, among others, McElmurry has also penned several picture-book texts of her own. Her picture books Mess Pets and Mad about Plaid! feature engaging story lines along with McElmurry's colorful illustrations.

In Mess Pets twin sisters Hilary—the tidy one—and Hannah—the sloppy one—share a room. Both sisters are content with their divided room arrangement, until one day a new creature emerges from the piled-up jumble littering Hannah's side of the room. Hilary soon wants a mess pet of her own, and borrows enough of her sister's clutter—which she places in a tidy pile—to cause the appearance of a second creature. "Young readers may find the illustrations of the clutter, trash, and dirty laundry amusing and will identify with the siblings' rivalry" commented School Library Journal contributor Shara Alpern. A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that although McElmurry's "partially rhyming text is unevenly paced," "the glories of this messy realm shouldn't be missed."

McElmurry began her writing career in 2000 with Mad about Plaid!, in which Madison Pratt finds an abandoned plaid handbag while walking her dog in a neighborhood park. Picking up the purse, the unwitting girl suddenly finds that the plaid on the purse is contagious, and soon everything is plaid, even her tears! Finally, Madison turns the purse inside out, replacing all the crazy-making plaid with a soothing blue the same color as the handbag's lining. Praising the story as a "whimsical adventure," a Publishers Weekly reviewer also cited McElmerry's "highly energetic illustrations" for their "accomplished, retro feel." In Booklist Catherine Andronik noted that the story will "fit nicely into a story hour" and make a jumping-off point for a discussion of the affect of color on people's moods.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 1, 2000, Catherine Andronik, review of Mad about Plaid, p. 1469; December 15, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of The Kettles Get New Clothes, p. 766.

Horn Book, May, 2001, review of I'm Small and Other Verses, p. 344.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of Mess Pets, p. 1395.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000, review of Mad about Plaid, p. 99; March 26, 2001, review of I'm Small, and Other Verses p. 91; July 22, 2002, review of The Kettles Get New Clothes, p. 177; September 22, 2003, review of It's a Miracle: A Hanukkah Storybook, p. 66.

School Library Journal, May, 2000, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Mad about Plaid, p. 148; May, 2001, Ellen A. Greever, review of I'm Small, and Other Verses, p. 145; October, 2002, Shara Alpern, review of Mess Pets, p. 120; December, 2002, Shelley B. Sutherland, review of The Kettles Get New Clothes, p. 93.


Jill McElmurry Web site, http://jillmcelmurry.com (February 28, 2005).*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Al Loving Biography - Loved Painting from Early Age to Alice McGill Biography - Personal