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Jim Lamarche Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 0027;s name Toni; Education: University of Wisconsin, B.S. (art).


Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Children's, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.


Author and illustrator. VISTA volunteer with United Tribes of North Dakota; formerly worked in advertising.


Honors Awards

Parents magazine Best Book of the Year designation, 1995, for The Carousel; Irma S. and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Picture Books, Bank Street College of Education, 2000, for The Raft; American Bookseller Association Pick-of-the-List designation, for Albert.



The Raft, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

(Reteller) The Brothers Grimm, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.

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Madeena Spray Nolan, My Daddy Don't Go to Work, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1979.

Tricia Springstubb, My Minnie Is a Jewel, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1980.

Emily Crofford, A Matter of Pride, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Barbara D. Booth, Mandy, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1991.

Laura Krauss Melmed, The Rainbabies, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1992.

Charles E. Carryl, The Walloping Window-blind, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1994.

Liz Rosenberg, The Carousel, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1995.

Louise Erdrich, Grandmother's Pigeon, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.

Laura Krauss Melmed, Little Oh, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1997.

Donna Jo Napoli, Albert, Silver Whistle Press (San Diego, CA), 2001.

Cynthia Rylant, Old Town in the Green Groves: The Lost Little House Years, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Dennis Haseley, A Story for Little Bear, Silver Whistle Press (San Diego, CA), 2002.

Margaret Wise Brown, The Little Fir Tree, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.


Although career choices as a kid alternated between being a magician, a downhill ski racer, and Davy Crockett, Jim LaMarche decided at a later age to become an illustrator. His book The Raft, which School Library Journal contributor Catherine T. Quattlebaum called "a dazzling picture book" and "an artistic triumph," reflects LaMarche's own childhood as it describes protagonist Nicky's summer spent at his grandmothers' lakeside cabin. At first sullen over being sent away for the summer, when Nicky finds an abandoned raft, he begins to explore the shoreline. Soon he begins to sketch the wild places and creature he discovers. As Sue Corbett wrote in the Miami Herald, The Raft is really about the many factors that can inspire a child to grow up to be an artist. Nicky's artistic grandmother performs a central role in the book, proudly displaying her sketches and her grandson's on the living room walls, and encouraging the boy's artistic efforts by explaining that the value in drawing is in gaining an intimate knowledge of objects. "LaMarche imbues the beauty and wonder of nature with an otherworldly glow," noted Quattlebaum, while in Publishers Weekly a reviewer wrote: "Equally adept at portraiture, landscapes and closely observed nature studies," the author/illustrator "uses light adroitly." Praising LaMarche's "original" art, Corbett called The Raft "a lyrical, lovely book about how one artist's journey began by looking at the world in a new way."

Growing up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, LaMarche admitted on the Harper Childrens Web site that "I wasn't one of those kids with a clear vision of the future." As a child he enjoyed drawing, sculpting, and creating things, and although he started his studies at the University of Wisconsin as a biology major, he graduated with a degree in art. After college, he worked for the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, creating teaching materials for Native American tribes in North Dakota. "It was a great job," La Marche recalled, explaining that since he had few coworkers he had the chance to involve himself in many aspects of publishing: graphic design, writing, taking the photographs needed, and creating illustrations. "It was then that I slowly realized that it might be possible for me to make a living at art," he explained. A move to California and a day job working as a carpenter's assistant allowed him evenings free to create a portfolio, and his first illustration assignment, for Minneapolis-based Carolrhoda, set him on course to what has become a successful career in children's books.

LaMarche's first illustrated book, Madeena Spray Nolan's My Daddy Don't Go to Work, has been followed by many others, including Laura Krauss Melmed's Rainbabies, which he illustrated for New York trade publisher Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. His realistic artwork, which are created in watercolor, colored pencil, pastel, and acrylic wash, has been highly praised for its warmth and the author's keen sense of color. Reviewing Dennis Haseley's A Story for Bear in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that illustrator LaMarche contributes "shimmering pastel spreads [that] go far to carry the tale over its rough spots," while his "appealing" colored pencil illustrations for Donna Jo Napoli's Albert were cited by Carolyn Phelan in a Booklist review. Noting that the book focuses on a single view out the boy Albert's window, Phelan maintained that La Marche's "ability to make each picture visually intriguing is all the more remarkable." In his own retelling of the Brothers Grimm's The Elves and the Shoemaker, the traditional story is "beautifully realized in the beguiling artwork," which LaMarche creates using colored pencil and acrylic wash.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 1, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Raft, p. 1679; March 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Albert, p. 1288; December, 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 751.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of The Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 1226.

Miami Herald, September 21, 2000, Sue Corbett, review of The Raft.

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Publishers Weekly, April 3, 2000, review of The Raft, p. 81; February 18, 2002, review of A Story for Bear, p. 96; November 17, 2003, review of The Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 62.

School Library Journal, May, 2000, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of The Raft, p. 146; October, 2003, Susan Patron, review of The Elves and the Shoemaker, p. 65.


Children's Literature Web site, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (July 15, 2005), "Jim LaMarche."

Harcourt Trade Publishers Web site, http://www.harcourtbooks.com/ (july 15, 2995), interview with Dennis Haseley and LaMarche.

Harper Childrens Web site, http://www.harperchildrens.com (July 15, 2005), "Jim LaMarche."

Additional topics

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