Alix Berenzy (1957–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1957, in Queens, NY; Education: Attended Columbus College of Art and Design, 1974–76, and Philadelphia College of Art, 1979–81. Hobbies and other interests: Biking, guinea pigs, and gardening.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Henry Holt & Co. Children's Books, 115 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011.
Glassman Advertising Agency, Fairfield, NJ, assistant art director, 1977–78; freelance sign painter, 1977–79; Mark Color Studios (advertising agency), Fairfield, art director, 1978–79; freelance illustrator, 1982–; writer. Part-time art instructor at schools in Philadelphia, PA, including Hussian School of Art, 1989–90, and University of the Arts, 1990–91. Exhibition: Works exhibited at Master Eagle Gallery, New York, NY, 1985, 1986; and Society of Illustrators Show, 1990. Group exhibits include "Worth a Thousand Words …," Community Arts Center, Wallingford, PA, 1990; "Every Picture Tells a Story," Los Angeles, CA, 1990; and Children's Book Fair, Bologna, Italy, 1990.
Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, Amnesty International.
Illustration honor, Philadelphia College of Art, 1982; Touch the Moon, The Last Slice of Rainbow and Other Stories, and A Frog Prince named books of the month, Philadelphia Children's Reading Roundtable, Philadelphia Free Library, 1987, 1988, 1990, respectively; Critici in Erba prize, Children's Book Fair (Bologna, Italy), 1990, for A Frog Prince; School Library Journal Best Book of the Year designation, 2000, for Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson.
(Reteller) A Frog Prince (loosely based on a fairy tale by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1989.
(Reteller) Rapunzel, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1995.
Sammy the Classroom Guinea Pig, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
Daniel Cohen, America's Very Own Ghosts, Dodd (New York, NY), 1985.
Marion Dane Bauer, Touch the Moon, Clarion (New York, NY), 1987.
Joan Aiken, The Last Slice of Rainbow and Other Stories, Harper (New York, NY), 1988.
Shirley Climo, T.J.'s Ghost, Harper (New York, NY), 1989.
Brenda Z. Guiberson, Into the Sea, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
Bruce Coville, A Glory of Unicorns, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1998.
April Pulley Sayre, Home at Last: A Song of Migration, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1998.
Betty Ann Schwartz, My Kingdom for a Horse: An Anthology of Poems about Horses, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
A childhood love of horses proved to be the inspiration for the adult career of children's writer and illustrator Alix Berenzy. In addition to writing and illustrating the picture books A Frog Prince, Rapunzel, and Sammy the Classroom Guinea Pig, she has contributed artwork to works by other writers, including Shirley Climo, Brenda Z. Guiberson, and Joan Aiken. Picture books "offer a high degree of artistic freedom," she once explained to SATA, adding that creating the story's text presents her with an interesting challenge. Commenting on Rapunzel, Berenzy's retelling of the Grimm brothers' classic tale, Booklist reviewer Lauren Peterson praised the book as "a spirited retelling" with "spectacular illustrations" "bright with light and filled with depth and dimension," while a Publishers Weekly contributor deemed the author/illustrator's "potent retelling" strongly grounded in the original German-language story. Berenzy's original tale, Sammy the Classroom Guinea Pig, was deemed an "engaging and informative primer" that guides children in the proper way to care for classroom pets, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey, she enjoyed sketching horses far more than she did doing homework, and after graduating from high school, Berenzy attended the Columbus College of Art and Design. As she once explained to SATA, "I liked doing all kinds of art but didn't know exactly what I could make a career of. Finally, because it seemed most practical, I chose 'advertising art' as my major. By the end of my second year I was still confused so I left college to work in an advertising agency back in New Jersey to see if I actually liked doing what I was majoring in. I did like it—the people were fun, if a bit frantic, and I enjoyed the high energy level."
"I'm very interested in light," Berenzy also explained, "how it creates a mood, moves over objects, and can conjure a magical feeling. Sometimes when I walk down the street, especially in the evening, I'll just stop and stare at the turn of a branch under a peach-colored street light with an electric blue sky behind it, or a glass bottle crushed and glittering on the road, or a shadow on a stone wall. I have no memory for everyday practical things, but these images get stored away and come out when I am planning an illustration. Of course, they are adapted to another place and time, but it was in these ordinary scenes that I first saw something magical.
"I work on black paper, so I can draw the light, as opposed to white paper, on which an illustrator renders shadows. I like the particular texture of the paper I use, and over the years I have developed a special technique. Mostly, though, I work on a black background because it is the most efficient way to record the images I have in my mind."
As a child Berenzy covered the margins of her math quizzes with sketches of horses; illustrating My Kingdom for a Horse: An Anthology of Poems about Horses edited by Betty Ann Schwartz has enabled her to further indulge in her passion for all things equine. Calling Berenzy's pastel artwork "a perfect companion" to the collected verses, School Library Journal reviewer Kristen Oravec added that the illustrator's works "bring the selections to life." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that Berenzy's "genuine talent for depicting … horses in motion" results in "delicate, understated" renderings that "propel this collection into the winner's circle."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 1995, Lauren Peterson, review of Rapunzel, p. 405; September 15, 1996, Kay Weisman, review of Into the Sea, p. 243; December 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Home at Last: A Song of Migration, p. 682.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2001, review of My Kingdom for a Horse: An Anthology of Poems about Horses, p. 1492; July 1, 2005, review of Sammy the Classroom Guinea Pig, p. 731.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 1995, review of Rapunzel, p. 60; May 4, 1998, review of Rapunzel, p. 216.
Review-Chronicle West (Philadelphia, PA), November 1, 1990.
School Library Journal, December, 1995, Cheri Estes, review of Rapunzel, p. 95; September, 1996, Diane Nunn, review of Into the Sea, p. 196; May, 1998, Susan L. Rogers, review of A Glory of Unicorns, p. 138; December, 1998, Patricia Manning, review of Home at Last, p. 113; November, 2001, Kristen Oravec, review of My Kingdom for a Horse, p. 150; July, 2005, Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, review of Sammy the Classroom Guinea Pig, p. 64.
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