Laurel Molk (1957–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1957; Education: Tufts University, B.A., 1978; Rhode Island School of Design, M.A.E., 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Weekly open-studio life drawing.
Agent—Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown, Ltd., 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.
Artist and illustrator.
Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children designation, American Booksellers Association Pick-of-the-Lists designation, and New York Public Library's One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing designation, all 2000, all for Off We Go!
Good Job, Oliver!, Little Brown (New York, NY), 1999.
When You Were Just a Heartbeat, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Nancy White Carlstrom, Grandpappy, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1990.
Lee Bennett Hopkins, compiler, On The Farm, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.
Jane Yolen, Beneath the Ghost Moon, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994.
Jane Yolen, Off We Go!, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.
Working as an illustrator since the late 1980s, when she produced artwork for Nancy White Carlstrom's picture book Grandpappy, Laurel Molk has also branched out into the role of author. Her first original picture book, Good Job, Oliver!, introduces young children to a young bunny who decides to compete in a strawberry-growing contest despite his lack of gardening experience. With self-confidence and determination, floppy-eared Oliver manages to out-garden his skeptical and more experienced friends, diligently watching over his growing plants and outwitting birds, ground hogs, and even some berry-nibbling bears to save his prize fruit. Noting that the book's "text cheerily conveys several important messages," a Publishers Weekly reviewer had special praise for Molk's artwork, which the critic described as "sunny, airy watercolors" depicting a "serene" rural setting soothing enough for bedtime readers. In Booklist Stephanie Zvirin wrote that the full-color renderings in Good Job, Oliver! "are as winning and uncomplicated as the story."
In When You Were Just a Heartbeat Molk presents a gentle story about the love of a parent for a newborn and uses the changing activities of various wild plants and animals—squirrels, chickadees, salamanders, pumpkins—through the seasons to mark the passage of time until the infant's birth. Ilene Cooper noted in Booklist that, balancing "the evocative simplicity" of Molk's text, the author creates "graceful, quiet watercolors" that are "reminiscent of Japanese brushwork." While writing that the carefully structured text might be too sophisticated for small children, Martha Topol nonetheless praised Molk's "lovely, minimalist" art in a review for School Library Journal, adding that the book's illustrations "are alive with deep colors and dynamic movement." A Publishers Weekly contributor deemed When You Were Just a Heartbeat "a soft breeze of a book, more reverie than story," adding that the artist successfully "sends a heartfelt message to young listeners."
Molk once told Something about the Author (SATA): "I've drawn pictures for as long as I can remember. In fact, I remember selling my pictures in the neighborhood as a child—one penny each or six for a nickel.
"When I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, I did all kinds of freelance jobs, such as designing athletic shoes, setting up window displays, designing posters for state parks, illustrating for ad agencies and nature magazines, and teaching drawing.
"Illustrating children's books is what I enjoy most. There is a freedom to be whimsical and to really stretch reality. I hope to illustrate children's books for a long, long time as the possibility to grow and experiment with each new project is seemingly endless. Also I really can't think of anything I'd prefer to do."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 15, 1998, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Good Job, Oliver! p. 755; May 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of When You Were Just a Heartbeat, p. 1564.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of When You Were Just a Heartbeat, p. 274.
Publishers Weekly, December 14, 1998, review of Good Job, Oliver!, p. 74; March 22, 2004, review of When You Were Just a Heartbeat, p. 84.
School Library Journal, July, 2004, Martha Topol, review of When You Were Just a Heartbeat, p. 83.
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