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Jean Gralley Biography

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

Born in New York, NY. Education: Parsons New School for Design, graduated; studied at Wayne State University and Harvard University.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Philomel, Putnam Berkley Group, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.


Writer and illustrator. Cricket magazine, staff artist for fourteen years; freelance illustrator and writer. Also creates plays, music, cartoons, and experimental multimedia. Picture-book commentator on National Public Radio's Looseleaf Notebook program.


Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC, Picture Book Artists Association.

Honors Awards

Don Freeman Memorial grant; Ezra Jack Keates fellowship for book illustration; Best Books designation, Children's Book Council, for Very Boring Alligator.


(Illustrator) Jane Yolen, And Twelve Chinese Acrobats, Philomel Books (New York, NY), 1994.

(Self-illustrated) Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1999.

(Self-illustrated) Very Boring Alligator, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.

(Self-illustrated) The Moon Came down on Milk Street, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, and Horn Book.


Jean Gralley had a brief, doomed career in conservatory where she spent more time drawing on her music than practicing until she got a clue and left for Parson's Jean GralleySchool of Design in New York City. There she studied with noted illustrator Maurice Sendak, who spoke of the spirit of music in picture books and "the light went on," as she told SATA. Now she loves everything about this art form, including speaking about it, as she often has for writers' and illustrators' conferences and for National Public Radio. A new interest of hers is the digital future of the picture book.

Beginning her career as staff artist for Cricket magazine, author and illustrator Jean Gralley has created several picture books for young readers in addition to exploring the evolution of illustrated books in digitized media. Her books includes Hogula, Dread Pig of Night and Very Boring Alligator, as well as the The Moon Came down on Milk Street, a book that some critics have compared to Maurice Sendak's classic The Night Kitchen. The comparison is apt; as a student at Parsons School of Design Gralley studied under Sendak, and the noted author/illustrator has been one of her strong influences. She has also illustrated for the New York Times.

The Moon Came down on Milk Street is "a gentle, heart-felt tribute to those who work together in emergencies," according to a Kirkus Reviews critic. In this subtle story Gralley presents readers with a look at how ordinary individuals react in times of crisis through a rhyming text that brings to life fantastical and non-threatening emergencies. On one particular evening, for example, the moon suddenly falls softy from the sky and breaks into pieces in a large city. Shocked city residents all pitch in to put the pieces back together and raise the moon back into its proper place in the sky. Gralley enhances her text with large illustrations that emphasize the importance of teamwork as a group of children work together as a cohesive unit to accomplish their goal of restoring the moon properly. Joanna Rudge Long, writing in Horn Book, described Gralley's artwork as "simple, expressive drawings washed in saturated, slightly muted colors that enhance the dreamlike quality." The Moon Came down on Milk Street was also cited by the State Library of Louisiana as one of the books that could be helpful to young evacuees of 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

In Very Boring Alligator Gralley relates the story of a very little redheaded girl with a very large problem, once again utilizing a rhyming text. When the little girl realizes that the very boring alligator that lounges around all day on her purple couch, talking, has no intention of leaving she does everything she can think of to get him to go. Finally the resourceful girl calls the Gator Cops in hopes that they can remove the boring alligator from her house. However, upon their arrival the Gator Cops fall under the alligator's spell; becoming boring themselves, they too refuse to leave! It is only when the girl finally decides to clearly and emphatically say what she means that she gets her wish. The gator is allowed back only under the condition that he absolutely must leave when asked. Praising the text with its "simple, humorously thumping rhymes," Connie Fletcher wrote in Booklist that Very Boring Alligator is an "age-appropriate take on empowerment, managing moods, and controlling nerve-wracking situations." A Kirkus Reviews critic stated that, while a lazy alligator seems a strange star in a jaunty tale, "Gralley pulls it off with flair, investing the little girl with all the energy the dullard alligator lacks."

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Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, p. 635; September 15, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of Very Boring Alligator, p. 231.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1999, review of Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, p. 54.

Faces: People, Places, and Cultures, March, 2002, p. 46.

Horn Book, January-February, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Moon Came down on Milk Street, p. 76.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of Very Boring Alligator, p. 1213; October 15, 2004, review of The Moon Came down on Milk Street, p. 1006.

Parents, October, 1999, review of Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, p. 40.

Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2001, review of Very Boring Alligator, p. 75.

Reading Teacher, October, 2000, review of Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, p. 197.

School Library Journal, June, 1995, Carolyn Noah, review of And Twelve Chinese Acrobats, p. 115; November, 1999, Judith Constantinides, review of Hogula, Dread Pig of Night, p. 116; October, 2001, Maryann H. Owen, review of Very Boring Alligator, p. 118; No-vember, 2004, Bethany L.W. Hankinson, review of The Moon Came down on Milk Street, p. 104.

Washington Post Book World, November 7, 2004, Elizabeth Ward, review of The Moon Came down on Milk Street, p. 12.


Jean Gralley Home Page, http://www.jeangralley.com (November 6, 2005).

Additional topics

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