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Ken ?)- Nutt (1951() Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Illustrator, Sidelights

(Eric Beddows)


Born 1951 (one source says 1956), in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Education: Attended York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1970-72.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Laura Geringer Books, 1350 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019.


Illustrator. The Gallery, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, educator and installer and lighter of exhibitions for nine years. Exhibitions: Included in exhibitions at Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1988-90; The Gallery, Stratford, Ontario, Canada, 1990; and Woodstock Art Gallery, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, 1997. Work represented in permanent collections, including Osborn Collection, Toronto, Ontario, and National Library of Canada, Ottawa.

Honors Awards

Children's Book of the Year citation, International Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE), 1983, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, Canadian Association of Children's Librarians (CACL), and Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award, Ontario Arts Council, both 1984, all for Zoom at Sea; Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, 1986, for Zoom Away; runner-up, Book of the Year for Children, Canadian Library Association, 1987, and Honor List for Illustration in Canada citation, International Board on Books for Young People, 1988, both for The Emperor's Panda; Honor Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Illustration Award, 1988, for Joyful Noise; Children's Book of the Year citation, IODE, 1988, runner-up, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, CACL, and Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Ken Nutt Picture Book Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre, both 1989, all for Night Cars; Notable Books citation, American Library Association, 1992, for Who Shrank My Grandfather's House?; Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration, Canada Council, 1996, for The Rooster's Gift. Recipient of grants for book illustration from Ontario Arts Council, 1981, 1985.


Tim Wynne-Jones, Zoom at Sea, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Tim Wynne-Jones, Zoom Away, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1985, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.

Paul Fleischman, I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1985.


David Day, The Emperor's Panda, Dodd, Mead (New York, NY), 1986.

Dennis Hasley, The Cave of Snores, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1987.

Paul Fleischman, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988.

Teddy Jam, Night Cars, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1988, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Paul Fleischman, Shadow Play, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1990.

Barbara Juster Esbensen, Who Shrank My Grandmother's House? Poems of Discovery, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992.

Chris Van Allsburg, Four Strange Stories, Houghton Mifflin Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1992.

Tim Wynne-Jones, Zoom Upstream, Douglas & McIntyre (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1992, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Pam Conrad, The Rooster's Gift, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.

Ursula K. LeGuin, Changing Planes (short stories for adults), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.

Tor Seidler, Toes, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2004.


(With Glen Elliott) Ken Nutt, Drawings [and] Glen Elliott, Sculpture (exhibition catalog), The Gallery (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

Ken Nutt: The One-Man Group Show, Woodstock Art Gallery (Woodstock, Ontario, Canada), 1997.


Ken Nutt is a fine artist and an award-winning Canadian illustrator of children's books. He most frequently illustrates under the name Eric Beddows, which combines his middle name and his mother's maiden name. Nutt is known for his black-and-white pencil drawings, which demonstrate "a strong handling of light and shadow, composition and form," according to Julie Corsaro in Booklist. Nutt has also opted for a full and brilliant palette in more recent works such as The Rooster's Gift, which earned him the Governor General's Award for Illustration from the Canada Council in 1996.

Nutt was born in a small town in the Canadian province of Ontario. He first came into contact with the great works of children's book illustrators through the encyclopedias his parents bought at the local grocery, one volume per week. In these volumes he discovered the work of Gustave Doré, Arthur Rackham, Rockwell Kent, and William Blake. Nutt found his place in the social hierarchy of school by drawing campaign posters for student-body elections and helping plan the decorations for school dances. After graduating from high school, he attended Toronto's York University for two years, studying painting and drawing, then decided to start his career in the field of art. When friend and writer Tim Wynne-Jones asked him to illustrate a children's book, Nutt realized that he had never even considered the possibility of book illustration. "Oddly," he reported in Seventh Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, "for all my love of the great illustrators of the past, I had never thought of drawing pictures for a book myself."

That situation changed drastically after the success of Zoom at Sea, the first book for which Nutt provided pictures. In this story, the playful cat, Zoom, short for Wynne-Jones's family cat Montezuma, won the hearts of critics and, most importantly, young readers. His adventures with his friend Maria, who transforms her home into an ocean so as to fulfill Zoom's sea-loving fantasy, are perfectly complemented by Nutt's pencil drawings, according to numerous reviewers. Award committees added to the favorable response, and Nutt's career as an illustrator looked promising.

Nutt collaborated with Wynne-Jones on all three of the "Zoom" titles, which include Zoom Away and Zoom Upstream. With Zoom Away the feline and Maria go searching for the elusive Uncle Roy at the North Pole—the transformed attic of Maria's house. Mary Lou Budd, writing in School Library Journal, noted that the story "captures and keeps the readers' attention from beginning to end with its action-packed narrative and accompanying pencil illustrations." Budd also noted that Nutt's method of shadowing his back-and-white pictures "gives each one a photographic look."

With the final title in the series, Zoom Upstream, the fearless feline follows a mysterious trail through a bookshelf to join friend Maria on another search for the illusive Uncle Roy, this time in ancient Egypt. Ilene Cooper wrote in Booklist that "Beddows' wonderful pencil illustrations detail the ensuing adventure," going on to call the pictures "wildly imaginative and full of minute particulars." A meticulous researcher, Nutt actually went to Egypt for the last title and spent a great deal of time making his way through tombs and the insides of pyramids. Hhe did his first rough sketches for Zoom Upstream while floating down the Nile.

Another fruitful collaboration for Nutt has been with writer Paul Fleischman, with whom he has teamed up on two prize-winning books of poems for children: I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices, about birds, and the Newbery Medal-winning Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, a book of verses which describe the characteristics of a variety of insects. Nutt has also illustrated Fleischman's Shadow Play, about a visit to a county fair by a brother and sister who become entranced by a shadow-puppet-theater presentation of "Beauty and the Beast."

Other noteworthy titles Nutt has illustrated under the name Beddows include The Emperor's Panda, about a poor young shepherd boy, Kung, who becomes the emperor of China with the help of the magical Master Panda, and the collection of poems, Who Shrank My Grandmother's House? Poems of Discovery. In 1996, Nutt illustrated Pam Conrad's The Rooster's Gift, an effort that earned him the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award for Illustration. In Conrad's story, the gift in question is the rising of the sun, for which the crowing rooster takes credit. However, one day, over-sleeping, Rooster is surprised and dismayed to discover the sun has risen without his call. In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that "Beddows eschews his characteristic black-and-white drawings in favor of dazzling full-color paintings," while Martha V. Parravano, writing in Horn Book, commented that "Beddows depicts, in curving lines and soft colors, the changing seasons in the pastoral landscapes rolling out below the chicken coop." Michael Cart concluded his Booklist review of The Rooster's Gift by praising "Beddows' gently humorous treatment of character … and impressive command of color and light."

After this great success, Nutt abandoned illustrating for several years. His work was not seen alongside the text of a story again until 2003, when he provided sketches for best-selling science-fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin's adult short-story collection Changing Planes. The next year he lent his artwork to Toes, a novel for middle-grades readers by Tor Seidler. The title character is a cat who got his name because he has seven toes on each foot rather than the usual five; Nutt's "small, black-and-white sketches of the cat in different poses begin each chapter," Susan Patron noted in School Library Journal.

While as Eric Beddows Nutt has become well known as the illustrator of children's and adult books, he also works as a figurative painter under his real name. As he explained in the Seventh Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, his interests range beyond book illustration. "I like math and physics and building mathematical models," he noted. Another favorite pastime for the illustrator is paleontology and the collection of fossils, with a specialty in invertebrates. However, "no dinosaurs," he added of his collection, noting that one day he would like to illustrate a fossil book with not one dinosaur featured.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Sally Holmes Holtze, editor, Seventh Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, H. W. Wilson (New York, NY), 1996.


Booklist, January 1, 1994, Julie Corsaro, review of Zoom Away, p. 834; June 1, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of Zoom Upstream, p. 1846; September 15, 1996, Michael Cart, review of The Rooster's Gift, pp. 245-246; June 1, 2004, Michael Cart, review of Toes, p. 1729.

Children's Book Watch, June, 1993, p. 1.

Emergency Librarian, May-June, 1993, Dave Jenkinson, "Eric Beddows: Award Winning Illustrator," pp. 68-71.

Horn Book, November-December, 1996, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Rooster's Gift, pp. 721-722.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Toes, p. 497.

Library Journal, April 1, 2003, Devon Thomas, review of Changing Planes, p. 133.

Publishers Weekly, September 9, 1996, review of The Rooster's Gift, pp. 82-83; May 17, 2004, review of Toes, p. 51.

Quill and Quire, October, 1985.

School Library Journal, February, 1994, Mary Lou Budd, review of Zoom Away, pp. 92-93; August, 1994, Steven Engelfried, review of Zoom Upstream, p. 148; December, 1994, Sally Margolis, review of Teller of Tales, p. 104; July, 2004, Susan Patron, review of Toes, p. 112.


Canadian Children's Book Centre Web site, http://collections.ic.gc.ca/ (July 27, 2005), "Eric Beddows."

Groundwood Books Web site, http://www.groundwoodbooks.com/ (July 27, 2005), "Eric Beddows."*

Additional topics

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