Arthur Howard (1948–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
(Arthur Charles Howard)
Born 1948, in New York, NY; Education: Reed College, B.A., 1970.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Harcourt, 6277 Sea Harbor Dr., Orlando, FL 32887.
Writer and illustrator. Worked as a professional actor for twenty years, performing in theater productions on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater; in television commercials, and on Square One, Public Broadcasting Service.
ABC Children's Bestsellers Choice, for Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake by Cynthia Rylant; American Book Award (ABA) Pick of the Lists, ABC Children's Bestsellers Choice, and American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book designation, 1996, all for Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears by Rylant; ABA Pick of the Lists, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award, Crayola Kids Best Book of the Year, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council (IRA/CBC) Children's Choice Award, and Charlotte Award, New York State Reading Association, all 1998, all for When I Was Five; Reading Magic Award, Parenting magazine, for Mr. Putter and Tabby Toot the Horn by Rylant; Best Book of the Year citation, School Library Journal, 2001, Nevada Young Readers Award and Kentucky Bluegrass Award, both 2003, and Best of the Best citation, Bank Street College, and IRA-CBC Children's Choice Award, all for Hoodwinked; IRA Teacher's Choice, 2001, for 100th Day Worries; Irma & James Black Award, Bank Street College, 2002, for Bubba and Beau, Best Friends by Kathie Appelt; ABA Pick of the Lists, IRA/CBC Children's Choice Award, Washington State Children's Choice Picture Book Award, 2002, and Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award, 2003, all for Cosmos Zooms; ABA Pick of the Lists and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, both 2001, both for Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch by Rylant; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award and Top Ten Easy Readers citation, Booklist, both 2004, both for Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup by Rylant; Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, 2005, for Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book by Rylant.
When I Was Five, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1996, published as Now I Am Six, Hazar (London, England), 1998.
Cosmos Zooms, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1999.
Hoodwinked, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Serious Trouble, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
The Hubbub Above, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
ILLUSTRATOR, "MR. PUTTER AND TABBY" SERIES BY CYNTHIA RYLANT
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake a Cake, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1994.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Row the Boat, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1997.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Toot the Horn, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Take the Train, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2000.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Write the Book, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Make a Wish, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Mr. Putter and Tabby Spin the Yarn, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Cynthia Rylant, Gooseberry Park, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.
Margery Cuyler, The Battlefield Ghost, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
Margery Cuyler, 100th Day Worries, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Margery Cuyler, Stop Drop and Roll, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Kathi Appelt, Bubba and Beau, Best Friends, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Kathi Appelt, Bubba and Beau Go Night-Night, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Kathi Appelt, Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers, The SOS File, Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Co-author of humor column for Glamour magazine, "The World according to He & She," with Julie Logan, 1992–95, and a book of the same title. The World ac-cording to He & She, on which the column was based, has been translated into Chinese, Italian, French, German, Norwegian, and Brazilian Portuguese, and was printed as a column in the Brazilian magazine Claudia. Howard's children's books have been published in the United Kingdom, France, and Korea.
Work in Progress
Illustrations for future "Mr. Putter and Tabby" books, illustrations for a fourth "Bubba and Beau" book, and a novel cover for Eleanor Estes's Miranda the Great.
Arthur Howard began his career as an actor, working on stage and screen in everything from television commercials, Broadway and off-Broadway productions, and the Public Broadcasting Service television series Square One. After twenty years in theater, Howard began illustrating Cynthia Rylant's "Mr. Putter and Tabby" series, creating characters that children recognize on sight and enlivening Rylant's text of the adventures of the old man and his cat. In 1996 Howard took another step and began writing and illustrating his own books, including When I Was Five, Serious Trouble, and The Hubbub Above. Covering themes such as friendship, laughter, being a good neighbor, and judging people for their qualities not for their looks, Howard's books have been published around the world, including the United Kingdom, France, and Korea.
The "Mr. Putter and Tabby" series begins when elderly Mr. Putter decides that his loneliness can be cured if he gets a cat. When a trip to the pet store produces only kittens, Mr. Putter makes his way to the animal shelter and meets Tabby, a cat in just as much need of a friend as Mr. Putter. Tabby does succeed in keeping Mr. Putter company, and the pair accomplish tasks from travel to baking to recovering from illness. Linda Perkins of Booklist praised how Howard's illustrations "add character and sly humor" to Rylant's text. Diane Janoff commented of Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch, "The clearly rendered illustrations" make the book "a perfect choice for any weather." Anne Knickerbocker considered the illustrations in Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish "expressive." Stephanie Zvirin complimented Howard's "cozy, freewheeling artwork" in a Booklist review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup.
Howard's illustrations have also appeared in titles by Margery Cuyler and in Kathi Appelt's "Bubba and Beau" chapter-book series. In a review of Stop, Drop, and Roll by Cuyler, Annie Ayers commented that "Howard's quavering caricatures … are a hoot, adding to the general hilarity." In a Booklist review of Bubba and Beau, Best Friends, Kathy Broderick considered Howard's watercolors to be "familiar and comforting." A Kirkus Reviews critic said of the second title in the series, "Snappy pencil-and-watercolor illustrations feature the amusing cast of characters, providing honest down-home fun."
For his self-illustrated titles, Howard once described to SATA how he begins his books: "From time to time people ask me, which comes first, the story or the pictures, and I've always been quick to explain that definitely it's the story. But [with] … The Hubbub Above I've kind of changed my mind. I mean I do try to have a complete text finished before I work on the illustrations. But before I start writing a story, I have to have an idea—and my initial ideas for a story are always visual images."
Howard's first independent title, When I Was Five, tells the story of a six-year-old boy who remembers what it was like to be five, telling readers about the things that were important to him last year, and noting that while many of his favorite things have changed with advancing age, his best friend is still the same. "Few books this short and up beat are as involving and ultimately moving as this one," Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist. Lolly Robinson in Horn Book praised Howard for his ability to keep the perspective of a six year old, writing "Both text and art demonstrate the self-assurance acquired at this age, ringing true in every detail."
Howard's second self-illustrated picture book features Cosmo, a small black-and-white schnauzer who does not feel as though he is especially good at anything. All of the other pets in the story have unique talents, and it is not until Cosmo falls asleep on a skateboard that he finds his own talent. "The six canine characters (and single Siamese cat) exude personality," a reviewer for Publishers Weekly described. Kay Weisman, writing for Booklist, commented, "young children are sure to identify with Cosmo's insecurities and eventual success."
Hoodwinked tells a story of beauty, but not in the typical way. As Howard told SATA, Hoodwinked "began with a simple visual image. One day my nieces asked me to tell them a story. At the time they each had at least two Barbie dolls with them. I don't have anything against Barbie dolls, but I decided to tell them the most un-Barbie story I could think of; nothing about pretty clothes, or pretty hair, or pretty anything. So I began, 'Mitzi the witch liked creepy things. Creepy bedroom slippers. Creepy breakfast cereal.' The third line, 'Creepy relatives,' occurred to me later—right after Thanksgiving." Mitzi's dilemma in the story is a search for a pet. She wants a truly creepy pet, but the toad is boring and the bats do not pay attention to her. One night, a kitten appears at her door, and Mitzi allows it to stay, but just for one night, because she is not interested in a pet that cute. The kitten, however, has other ideas, and accompanies Mitzi on all of her witchy past times, until Mitzi realizes the kitten is just the pet for her, in spite of its non-creepy outward appearance. Booklist contributor Shelley Townsend-Hudson commented that "children will enjoy the preposterous fun and hilarious illustrations" in Hoodwinked, while a Publishers Weekly critic noted the "cute-fierce characters and cobwebby settings" featured in the illustrations. (Mitzi, in spite of liking things to be creepy, is fairly cute herself.) "It's a satisfying story, illustrated with effective humorous line drawings," commented Martha V. Parravano in Horn Book, commenting on the "ghastly greens and putrid purples" of Howard's color choices. Ruth Semrau praised the book in her School Library Journal review, writing that "every page is a delight. Don't miss this one."
Howard's next solo effort, Serious Trouble, features young prince Ernest, who wants to be a jester, having to outsmart a dragon. Howard told SATA: "For Serious Trouble, the initial image was of a three-headed dragon that couldn't make up its minds. I pictured it tangled up with itself and arguing ferociously. The narrative grew from there. What would get the heads to stop bickering? Well, maybe they could all laugh at the same thing. But what would make them laugh? That's when Ernest the jester was born." Ernest makes a deal with the dragon: if he can get the dragon to laugh, the creature not eat him. "Children will giggle right up to the fitting conclusion of this lighthearted romp," wrote Marilyn Taniguchi in her School Library Journal review, while a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Howard tucks "plenty of wordplay into the brief text to complement his playful, loosely drawn illustrations." Recommending the title for storytime groups, Horn Book contributor Kitty Flynn promised that Howard's "This crowd pleaser will tickle even a heckler's funny bone."
Howard related his inspiration for his next title to SATA: "The impulse to write The Hubbub Above was also little more than an image. I had a friend who often complained about her upstairs neighbors. One day she referred to them as 'the elephants upstairs.' I was immediately struck by the image of elephants dwelling in a small New York apartment. What would their home look like, I wondered. What kind of friends would they have? And the kitchen. I suppose it would be extremely well stocked … with peanuts. A book was born." Sydney, who lives on the fifty-second floor of the Ivory Towers, does not know that her upstairs neighbors are actually elephants. All she understands is how noisy they are, especially on Saturday nights when their friends come over for parties. One Saturday Sydney confronts her neighbors, only to discover the reason for the noise is because they and their guests are all wild animals. When the elephants realize they've caused Sydney aggravation, they promise they will try to be more quiet, and they invite her to come to all their parties. "Howard's sherbet-colored highly atmospheric art serves as the perfect setting" for the tale, according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Mary Elam, writing for School Library Journal, considered the story "a humorous tale with a subtle message of tolerance and cooperation." Kitty Flynn, writing in Horn Book, also noticed the message, calling it a "friendly conflict-resolution … accompanied by boisterous cartoon illustrations."
Summing up for SATA the debate on how he creates a story, Howard concluded, "So which comes first: the story or the pictures? Well, that's easy, it's, um, well…."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 1, 1996, Linda Perkins, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears, p. 850; November 1, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 538; September 1, 2001, Shelly Townsend-Hudson, review of Hoodwinked, p. 120; September 15, 2001, Annie Ayers, review of Stop, Drop, and Roll, p. 230; April 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of Bubba and Beau, Best Friends, p. 1331; November 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold, p. 509; July, 2003, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup, p. 1903.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2001, review of Hoodwinked, p. 19.
Childhood Education, spring, 2004, Gina Hoagland, review of Serious Trouble, p. 161.
Horn Book, September-October, 1996, Lolly Robinson, review of When I Was Five, p. 579; January-February, 2002, Martha V. Parravano, review of Hoodwinked, p. 68; November-December, 2003, Kitty Flynn, review of Serious Trouble, p. 730; May-June, 2005, Kitty Flynn, review of The Hubbub Above, p. 309.
Instructor, April, 1998, review of When I Was Five, p. 26; May, 2000, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 14.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Catch the Cold, p. 1538; March 1, 2003, review of Bubba and Beau Go Night-Night, p. 378; October 1, 2003, review of Serious Trouble, p. 1225; May 1, 2005, review of The Hubbub Above, p. 539.
Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1999, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 93; August 16, 1999, review of When I Was Five, p. 87; September 24, 2001, review of Hoodwinked, p. 42; October 6, 2003, review of Cosmos Zooms, p. 87; November 3, 2003, review of Serious Trouble, p. 72.
Reading Teacher, October, 1997, review of When I Was Five, p. 132; October, 2000, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 195.
School Librarian, spring, 2002, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 19.
School Library Journal, May, 1996, Marianne Saccardi, review of When I Was Five, p. 92; September, 1999, Pat Leach, review of Cosmo Zooms, p. 184; July, 2000, Diane Janoff, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Paint the Porch, p. 86; May, 2001, Anne Knickerbocker, review of Mr. Putter and Tabby Feed the Fish, p. 134; September, 2001, Ruth Semaru, review of Hoodwinked, p. 190; October, 2001, Roxanne Burg, review of Stop, Drop, and Roll, p. 46; November, 2003, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Serious Trouble, p. 96; May, 2005, Mary Elam, review of The Hubbub Above, p. 86.