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Daniel Powers (1959-) Biography

Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1959, in Fremont, OH; Education: Ohio University, B.F.A., 1982; Marywood University, M.F.A., 1987; attended graduate studies at University of Texas, Austin, and Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster, Germany. Hobbies and other interests: Genealogy, folk music, literature.


Illustrator and author. Kilani-Honua Institute for Cultural Studies, Pahoa, HI, artist-in-residence, 1997; Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial fellow at University of Minnesota, 2004. Exhibitions: Work has been exhibited at Society of Illustrators, New York, NY; Bologna Children's Book Fair, Bologna, Italy; Sangren Gallery of Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo; Elizabeth Stone Gallery, Birmingham, MI; Bardean Gallery, Albuquerque, NM; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; and Mazza Collection.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (regional advisor, Michigan chapter, 1996–98, New Mexico chapter, 1998–2001), Graphic Artists Guild, New Mexico Watercolor Society.

Honors Awards

Pick of the List citation, American Library Association, 1997, for Jiro's Pearl; Very Best in Children's Book Illustration citation, Society of Illustrators, 1997, for From the Land of the White Birch; Silver Award for Excellence in Communications, 2002, for illustration for the Albuquerque Community Foundation; honored by Children's Reading Round Table of Chicago for contributions to children's literature.



Jiro's Pearl, Candlewick (Cambridge, MA), 1997.


Judith Mathews, Tuti, Blue Horse, and the Nipnope Man, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1993.

Shirley Neitzel, From the Land of the White Birch, River Road Publications (Spring Lake, MI), 1997.

Jean Craighead George, Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

Wayne Walker, Henrietta, Rocky River Publishing (Shepherdstown, WV), 1998.

The Wise Woman and the Sky, Rigby (Orlando, FL), 2000.

Michelle Myers Lackner, Toil in the Soil, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2001.

Children's Classics, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 2002.

Judith St. George, Take the Lead, George Washington!, Philomel (New York, NY), 2005.

Lou Weber, editor, Spooky Stories, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 2005.

Also illustrator of Where Do We Go? for Modern Curriculum Press; Breakfast Time!, by Melissa Schiller, for Mondo Press; and The Money Bag, for Rigby.

Work in Progress

Liebe Berta, the story of a Prussian family's immigration to Michigan; illustrating Judith St. George's follow-up to Take the Lead, George Washington about Thomas Jefferson for Philomel's "Turning Point" series.


Although first gaining attention for his illustrations, Daniel Powers has won critical acclaim for his self-illustrated title, Jiro's Pearl. The original folk tale borrows from traditional Japanese stories and western fairy tales. Young Jiro's grandmother is ill, and he must go to market to sell the family's last bag of rice in order to get money for her medicine. Jiro accidentally spills the rice and now is unable to make the trade necessary to pay for the medicine. When the anxious boy asks the healer, called a yakuzaishi, to help his grandmother without remuneration, the wise man asks Jiro to take a test to prove his worthiness. a test, and when Jiro proves his worth. "Powers's watercolors … demonstrate sensitivity to his characters and their culture," a Publishers Weekly reviewer complimented of the illustrations in the book, while Booklist contributor Karen Hutt wrote that the author/illustrator's "softly colored illustrations … reflect the gentle tone" of the story.

As an illustrator, Powers has worked with such well-known authors as Newbery winner Jean Craighead George and Judith St. George. Powers helps bring U.S. President George Washington's explorations into the wilderness to life in Take the Lead, George Washington!, by St. George, while in Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl, he illustrates Jean Craighead George's tale of science meeting myth as a grandmother and granddaughter argue over the identity of a volcano. John Peters, writing in Booklist, praised the "swirling, fiery glimpses of Pele," a Hawaiian goddess, that Powers includes in his artwork for Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl.

Powers told SATA: "Growing up in the farmlands of northwest Ohio, books were my lifeline to the greater world. The tallest man-made structure for miles around was the grain elevator near our house, but in my bookworld I could exchange grain elevators for towering pagodas! Instead of iceskating in the shadow of the Ballville bridge with my little brother, I could glide beneath the thundering sails of windmills with Hans Brinker! Books were magic! I have always loved them. And since I turned my very first page I've known that one day I would create books.

"When I'm illustrating or writing, I have great fun! But it's a lot of work. I love to do research. For Jiro's Pearl I had to find out what kimonos looked like for peasant children in Japan in 1890; for Liebe Berta I got to read the journal entries of a nun working on the Michigan frontier in 1871; for Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl I traveled to Kilauea to visit Pele in person; and for Take the Lead, George Washington! I visited the site where our first president was born where I saw bald eagles fishing on the Potomac.

"While I occasionally travel for my work, most of it is done in my studio where I work for eight to twelve hours a day. But that's okay because my dog Moses helps me. (He provides a lot of moral support.) People are often surprised to find that I have to revise my pictures as often as my words. I write with pictures and paint with words—writing and painting are the opposite sides of the same creative coin.

"And when I work with aspiring illustrators and writers, I tell them, 'Keep writing! Keep drawing! Tell the stories you love to tell and continue honing your craft.'"

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, October 1, 1997, Karen Hutt, review of Jiro's Pearl, p. 338; November 1, 1998, John Peters, review of Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl, p. 501.

Magpies, May, 1997, review of Jiro's Pearl, p. 28.

MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Vicki Arkoff, review of Take the Lead, George Washington!

Publishers Weekly, May 19, 1997, review of Jiro's Pearl, p. 76.

School Librarian, August, 1997, review of Jiro's Pearl, p. 132.

School Library Journal, January, 1994, Barbara Chatton, review of Tuti, Blue Horse, and the Nipnope Man, p. 94; July, 1997, Margaret A. Chang, review of Jiro's Pearl, p. 73; February,1998, Ruth Semrau, review of From the Land of the White Birch, p. 102; December, 1998, Rosie Peasley, review of Dear Katie, the Volcano Is a Girl, p. 82; April, 2001, Ellen Heath, review of Toil in the Soil, p. 132.


Daniel Powers Home Page, http://www.powers-studio.com (September 14, 2005).

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - Personal