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Kathryn Brown (1955–) Biography

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

(Kathy Brown)


Born 1955, in Twin Falls, ID; children: Frances.


Agent—Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Agency, 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.


Illustrator and author.

Honors Awards

Notable Book citation, American Library Association, Outstanding Children's Book of the Year, Parenting, Joan Fassler Memorial Book Award, Association for the Care of Children's Health, and Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, all for Tough Boris; Pick of the List, American Bookseller Association, 1997, for From Lullaby to Lullaby.


(And illustrator) Muledred, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1990.


Marilyn Singer, The Lightey Club, Four Winds (New York, NY), 1987.

Jane Yolen, Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1992.

Mem Fox, Tough Boris, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1994.

Diane Marcial Fuchs, A Bear for All Seasons, Holt (New York, NY), 1995.

Cynthia Rylant, The Old Woman Who Named Things, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.

Adéle Geras, From Lullaby to Lullaby, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.

Kathryn Brown

Climb into My Lap (poems), edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Corinne Demas Bliss, The Littlest Matryoshka, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1999.

Sharon Darrow, Old Thunder and Miss Raney, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 2000.

Jane Yolen, Eeny up above San Diego, Harcourt Brace (New York, NY), 2000.

Linda Smith, When Moon Fell Down, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Sandy Asher, Stella's Dancing Days, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.

(Under name Kathy Brown) Linda Smith, The Inside Tree, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

Rebecca Kai Gotlich, Mama Loves, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Grandpa Loves, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

Heather Vogel Frederick, Calamity Wayne at the O.K. Corral, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 2006.


Children's book illustrator Kathryn Brown began her career by pairing her watercolor art with a story of her own in the picture book Muledred. Brown's artwork has been praised for its attention to detail, and she also brings her whimsical approach to the stories she illustrates for other writers. Working in translucent water-color, she has proved to be versatile, imbuing scenes from Jane Yolen's Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole with a warm, nostalgic aura while also conveying the colorful ugliness of a lively pirate gang in Australian writer Mem Fox's award-winning picture book Tough Boris. Brown also brings to life a magical world of dreams in From Lullaby to Lullaby, by Adéle Geras, while Linda Smith's "whimsical" When Moon Falls Down is en-hanced by Brown's illustrations, which "glow with Moon's reflected" glow and allow young readers to "see nighttime in a new light" according to School Library Journal reviewer Susan Hepler.

Featuring "colorful pastels [that] make the book inviting," according to School Library Journal contributor Nancy A. Gifford, Muledred centers on a young mule named Muledred, who is always late to school because she finds something interesting to see or do along the way. When her grandfather gives her his watch to help the distractable youngster keep track of the time, the absentminded Muledred loses it. Finding the watch, her friends refuse to return it, challenging Muldred to make it to school in time to ring the school bell in exchange for the watch. With a little ingenuity, Muledred is able to outsmart the other children and regain her grandfather's precious timepiece. "Winsome mule children and wise mule adults populate this entertaining and original first effort," declared a critic in Publishers Weekly.

In Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole the youngest mole in a mole family becomes curious about the world above the cozy burrow she shares with her older sisters, Meeny and Miney, although the older moles try to discourage Eeny's attempts to explore the outside world. Booklist critic Hazel Rochman praised the book, writing that Brown's "pictures have drama and homey detail, with rich characterization and a mythical sweep." Similarly, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote that the "fanciful touches" add to the story, and described Brown's illustrations as "gracefully droll."

Mem Fox's Tough Boris humanizes pirates by showing the depth of sorrow felt by Tough Boris when his pet parrot dies. Several critics noted that Brown's illustrations reveal other stories to observant readers, stories that are not mentioned in the book's narrative. "Brown has constructed a parallel world, expanding and enlarging upon the skeletal text to create a witty visual counterpart that is rife with potential subplots," noted Patricia T. O'Conner in the New York Times Book Review. The result, according to O'Conner, is "a picture book that luxuriates in pure possibility." Similarly, Booklist critic Rochman observed that, "for those who look carefully, the wordless story [told in the pictures] is a poignant counterpoint to the swashbuckling adventure scenes."

Brown pairs with author Cynthia Rylant for The Old Woman Who Named Things, a story that deals with "the sadness of loss and the necessity of continuing to love anyway," according to Susan Dove Lempke in Booklist. When an elderly woman realizes she has outlived most of her friends, she begins to give names only to those things that will outlive her, such as her car, which she names Betsy, and her house, which she calls Franklin. When a homeless puppy shows up at her gate, she feeds him but refuses to name him until the day he does not appear and she must go looking for him. Reviewers delighted in Brown's watercolor depiction of the feisty old woman and the lovable dog she eventually names Lucky. "Lucky the children who meet Lucky," quipped Mary Margaret Pitts in School Library Journal.

In her illustrations for From Lullaby to Lullaby, Geras's fanciful story of a woman knitting a blanket for her daughter, Brown weaves a variety of objects into the blanket, among them a doll, a moon, and a rainbow. Praising the book's gently rhyming text, Lauren Peterson added in her Booklist review that Brown's "elaborate" watercolor art is "filled with lots of wonderful details." Praising a more recent illustration project, Rebecca Kai Dotlich's Mama Loves, as a "moving paean to the comforting constancy" of the mother-child relationship, a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that "Brown's beguiling watercolors brim with delicate, knowing details." The artist also "captures the winsome spirit" of Sandy Asher's story in the "series of expressive ink drawings" she created for Stella's Dancing Days," according to Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan. Phelan's praise was echoed by a Publishers Weekly contributor who added that Brown's "illustrations possess a timeless quality."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 1992, p. 1391; March 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Tough Boris, p. 1269; October 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of A Bear for All Seasons, p. 326; May 1, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Old Woman Who Named Things, p. 1503; April 15, 1997, Lauren Peterson, review of From Lullaby to Lullaby, p. 1436; November 15, 1998, Lauren Peterson, review of Climb into My Lap: First Poems to Read Together, p. 592; September 15, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Littlest Matryoshka, p. 258; March 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Stella's Dancing Days, p. 1402.

Horn Book, May-June, 1994, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Tough Boris, p. 313.

New York Times Book Review, September 11, 1994, review of Tough Boris, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1990, p. 65; February 3, 1992, p. 79; March 17, 1997, p. 82; November 9, 1998, review of Climb into My Lap, p. 74; August 21, 2000, review of Old Thunder and Miss Raney, p. 72; September 4, 2000, review of The Old Woman Who Named Things, p. 110; February 26, 2001, review of Stella's Dancing Days, p. 85; May 14, 2001, review of When Moon Fell Down, p. 81; March 15, 2004, review of Mama Loves, p. 73.

School Library Journal, November, 1990, p. 86; October, 1996, p. 105; July, 1997, pp. 67-68; October, 2000, Barbara Buckley, review of Old Thunder and Miss Raney, p. 119; July, 2001, Susan Hepler, review of When Moon Fell Down, p. 88; July, 2001, Shawn Brommer, review of Stella's Dancing Days, p. 72.

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