Loretta Krupinski (1940–) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1940, in Brooklyn, NY; Education: Syracuse University, B.F.A., 1962.
Illustrator. Worked for Newsday (newspaper), Long Island, NY, as editorial illustrator for eight years, for General Dynamics, Groton, CT, for seven years, and held various jobs relating to design and illustration until 1987; freelance children's book illustrator and marine art painter, 1987–. Exhibitions: Krupinski's works have been displayed at Boston Symphony Concert Hall; New England Children's Book Exhibition; Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, CT; and New England Illustrators Show, Creative Arts Workshop Gallery, New Haven, CT. Solo exhibitions include Lyman Allyn Museum, Mystic (CT) Maritime Gallery, Society of Illustrators "Original Art" Exhibition, and Cedar Rapids (IA) Museum of Art.
American Society of Marine Artists (fellow), Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
American Library Association Best Books citation, for Into the Woods; American Booksellers Association "Pick of the List" citation, for Heidi; Krupinski's work has also received two Outstanding Science Trade Book citations and an International Reading Association/Children's Choice award.
(Adaptor) Irving Bacheller, Lost in the Fog, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.
(Adaptor) Celia Thaxter, Celia's Island Journal, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
A New England Scrapbook: A Journey through Poetry, Prose, and Pictures, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Bluewater Journal: The Voyage of the Sea Tiger, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1995.
(Reteller) Johanna Spyri, Heidi, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Into the Woods: A Woodland Scrapbook, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1997.
Best Friends, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
Christmas in the City, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
The Royal Mice: The Sword and the Horn, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Wilma Pitchford Hays, The Ghost at Penniman House, Xerox Education, 1979.1979.
Carol Greene, The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1991.1991.
Mary Claire Helldorfer, Sailing to the Sea, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.1991.
Helene Jordan, How a Seed Grows, revised edition, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.1992.
Linda Glasser, Wonderful Worms, Millbrook Press, 1992.1992.
Jean Craighead George, Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.1993.
Linda Hayward, The Runaway Christmas Toy, Random House (New York, NY), 1994.1994.
Betsy Maestro, Why Do Leaves Change Color?, Harper-Collins (New York, NY), 1994.1994.
Barbara Cooney, The Story of Christmas, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.1995.
Shirley Climo, The Irish Cinderlad, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.1996.
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit, or, How Toys Become Real, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.1996.
Clement C. Moore, A Visit from St. Nicholas, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.1998.
Linda Glaser, Fabulous Frogs, Millbrook Press, 1999.1999.
Carol Greene, Where Is That Cat?, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.
C. Z. Guest, Tiny Green Thumbs, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.
Margaret Wise Brown, Mouse of My Heart: A Treasury of Sense and Nonsense, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.
Margaret Wise Brown, My World of Color, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Judi K. Beach, Names for Snow, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.
Artist Loretta Krupinski expresses her love for the coasts and forests of her native New England through both her paintings and the highly praised illustrations she has created to enhance the works of numerous children's picture-book authors. Works by writers Margery Williams, Helene Jordan, and Celia Thaxter have all benefited from Krupinski's painstakingly rendered artwork. In addition, she has authored several books of her own that explore the beauty of the seasons in the New England region, among them the fictional Bluewater Journal: The Voyage of the Sea Tiger and A New England Scrapbook: A Journey through Poetry, Prose, and Pictures. Her Christmas in the City and The Royal Mice: The Sword and the Horn follow the adventures of sprightly mice.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940, Krupinski showed an early aptitude for drawing. Expressing herself through her artwork became an important pastime for her even as a young girl; as she would later tell Something about the Author, "In this respect drawing has become a natural part of my life as much as eating, sleeping, and breathing." Graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in illustration and painting in 1962, she found her first job as an editorial illustrator at the New York newspaper Newsday. While, as Krupinski noted, working for a newspaper limited her range of colors to black or white, it served as an excellent training ground for the future illustrator because her subject matter was so diverse: whatever found its way into the news could potentially serve as the subject for one of her illustrations.
In 1987, after her daughter left home to attend college, Krupinski decided to leave her job as a corporate illustrator and follow her dream of illustrating and writing children's picture books. "I feel that all the rules and elements of painting—composition, color theory, and technique—have definitely propelled me into doing the quality of illustrations I do today," the illustrator noted of her style, which has been highly praised by critics for its fine-art quality.
Krupinski's first work for young readers was an adaptation of Irving Bacheller's Lost in the Fog, the story of a boy and an elderly woman who become lost in the thick morning fog while rowing their geese to market. Published in 1990, it served as Krupinski's first success. Many other illustration projects were quickly sent her way, many which feature strong natural settings. Her "stunning" work in gouache, watercolor, and colored pencil for Jean Craighead George's seasonal tale Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here received notice from School Library Journal contributor Dot Minzer, who wrote that, in Krupinski's double-page illustrations, "Wispy, soft textures and deep colors aptly capture the stillness of the snow and the cold air." In her School Library Journal critique of Mary Claire Helldorfer's Sailing to the Sea, Susan Scheps made special note of Krupinski's work, writing that "The atmosphere of the eastern seacoast is strong in the soft pastels and muted shades" of each illustration.
Another book about the sea that benefits from Krupinski's artistic talents is nineteenth-century diarist Celia Thaxter's Celia's Island Journal, which Krupinski adapted into picture-book format. The daughter of a lighthouse keeper off the New England coast, Celia's life, surrounded by nature, is reflected by Krupinski's technique of bordering each journal entry with "delicate, realistic illustrations of particular plants, birds, animals, and sea creatures," according to Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman. While noting that Krupinski "is more comfortable with the settings and natural phenomena than with her human subjects," Horn Book reviewer Mary M. Burns hailed Celia's Island Journal for its "overall charm."
Krupinski moves away from the coast and into sunny domesticity in illustrating Carol Greene's The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats. With a foundation in ecology, the story involves several island-dwelling old ladies whose beloved cats roam the streets after dark in search of field mice; the sudden drop in the mouse population means that fewer honeycombs will be stolen, allowing the bees to pollinate the red clover which feeds the cows that provide milk for the sailors who protect the island from pirates. Unfortunately, the mayor trips over one of the precious felines one night and orders a kitty curfew—which results in more mice and less of everything else. Dubbing Krupinski's full-color illustrations "elegantly executed," School Library Journal contributor Patricia Pearl hailed The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats as "a treat for the eye and the ear." In her appraisal of the work for Horn Book, Nancy Vasilakis likened Krupinski's "charming scenes" to "an innocuous Gilbert-and-Sullivan atmosphere" wherein "the villainous attack resembles nothing so much as an invasion of summer tourists."
In Tiny Green Thumbs, written by C. Z. Guest, a young rabbit and his mouse friend learn how to cultivate a vegetable garden with the help of the rabbit's grandmother. Step by step, the young pair learn how to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water, and wait for the plants to grow. Along the way, they learn the importance of sunshine and weeding in keeping the garden healthy. A critic for Publishers Weekly found that Krupinski's "elegant gauche and color pencil drawings pulse with the details of blossoms opening and leaves unfurling," while Patricia Pearl Dole in the School Library Journal believed that "little gardeners will enjoy this sweet book." For My World of Color, Krupinski illustrates poems written by Margaret Wise Brown about colors, creating what a critic for Publishers Weekly called "a series of lavish tableaux." Holly T. Sneeringer in the School Library Journal explained that "each spread highlights a color as children are led on a fun-filled excursion."
Among Krupinski's own books are A New England Scrapbook and Into the Woods: A Woodland Scrapbook, both which feature highly detailed renderings of native flora and fauna. Including short poems by such writers as Dorothy Aldis and naturalist Rachel Field, as well as in other prose selections describing the natural beauty of the region stretching from Maine to Michigan, A
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New England Scrapbook "takes the reader on an edifying and enjoyable excursion," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. Calling 1997's Into the Woods "a charming picture book [that] introduces a variety of nature facts and lore in a clear and lively manner," School Library Journal contributor Melissa Hudak dubbed Krupinski's watercolor illustrations "irresistible."
Christmas in the City tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mouse, who live in a tree in the forest. When the tree is cut down and taken to Rockefeller Center in New York as a Christmas tree, the mice find themselves in the big city for the first time. Each night they sneak away to explore the neighborhood, peeking into store windows and visiting a Christmas Eve service at a nearby church. Mrs. Mouse gives birth to three children on Christmas day while the couple is visiting a manger display. Carolyn Phelan in Booklist found the artwork to be "skillfully composed and featuring many lovely night scenes." A critic for Kirkus Reviews called Christmas in the City a "well-written story," while Susan Patron in the School Library Journal concluded that it is "a sweet family story about Christmas."
Mice characters reappear in Krupinski's The Royal Mice: The Sword and the Horn. When the Queen of All You Can See decides she can no longer tolerate having mice running loose in the royal palace, she has a giant cat brought in to chase them out. The mice have always been able to trick the palace cats, but this time it is different. The new cat, Max the Magnificent, is too
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clever for them. Help ultimately comes in the form of an old legend, which tells that the mice can call upon their warrior ancestors in time of great need. By using a secret horn, the mice call up an army of helpers to fight the fearsome cat and in the end, the queen decides to live peaceably with mice in her palace. Reviewing the story for Booklist, Julie Cummins wrote: "Handsomely designed, this imaginative animal tale of jousting and derring-do is a rousing story." Wanda Meyers-Hines in the School Library Journal wrote that Krupinski's "tale of adventure makes an exciting read-aloud."
Krupinski lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut, a lake-filled region where she is surrounded by Long Island Sound and the mouth of the Connecticut River as it opens onto the Sound. The area provides her with many opportunities to engage in her other artistic endeavor—work as a marine artist—and she has become well known for her realistic paintings of classic wood boats, lighthouses, and harbor scenes. These remnants of New England's seafaring past she sees as an "endangered species stalked by the ravages of time," and she attempts to preserve them through her art.
"Painting has been an excellent background for me in my commercial work," Krupinski once explained to SATA. "Painting deals with reality, and children's books deal with fantasy. It is enlightening and fun to step back and forth into each world. While my maritime background is a definite asset in my choice of children's books, I hope not to be typecast as a 'boat illustrator.' I like to do little soft fuzzy things as well!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 1, 1992, Hazel Rochman, review of Celia's Island Journal, p. 673; June 1-15, 1994, p. 1825; November 15, 1994, p. 608; September 15, 1995, p. 169; September 1, 1996, p. 145; May 1, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of My World of Color, p. 1531; September 15, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Christmas in the City, p. 246; September 15, 2004, Julie Cummins, review of The Royal Mice, p. 251.
Horn Book, July-August, 1991, Nancy Vasilakis, review of The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats, p. 448; November-December, 1992, Mary M. Burns, review of Celia's Island Journal, p. 738.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of My World of Color, p. 487; November 1, 2002, review of Christmas in the City, p. 1621; September 1, 2004, review of The Royal Mice, p. 869.
Publishers Weekly, August 9, 1993, p. 478; April 4, 1994, review of A New England Scrapbook, p. 77; February 7, 2000, review of Tiny Green Thumbs, p. 84; March 25, 2002, review of My World of Color, p. 62.
School Library Journal, May, 1991, Patricia Pearl, review of The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats, p. 78; August, 1991, Susan Scheps, review of Sailing to the Sea, pp. 149-150; July, 1992, p. 69; October, 1992, p. 110; March, 1993, p. 190; December, 1993, Dot Minzer, review of Dear Rebecca, Winter Is Here, p. 87; June, 1994, pp. 121-122; October, 1995, p. 36; June, 1996, p. 114; May, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of Into the Woods: A Woodland Scrapbook, p. 120; July, 1997, p. 79.
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