Meghan McCarthy Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Female. Education: Rhode Island School of Design, graduated. Hobbies and other interests: Photographing abandoned spaces; collecting old magazines, old bottles, and '50s objects with interesting design elements; decorating; composing music on her keyboard; cultivating large plants in her apartment; playing croquet; running; carving things out of wood; indie rock; hosting dinner parties "because it's an excuse to use the blender—basically, everything interests me."
Illustrator and author. Barnes & Noble, New York, NY, member of retail staff.
Choice designation, International Reading Association/Children's Book Council, 2005, for Show Dog.
George Upside Down, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.
Show Dog, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.
Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Steal Back the Mona Lisa!, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Meghan McCarthy knew by age seven that she wanted to illustrate books for a living when she grew up. After attending the Rhode Island School of Design, she took the step that would make that dream a reality: she packed up all her earthly goods, moved to New York City, and began to knock on publishers' doors, portfolio in hand. The risk paid off when McCarthy was given a two-book contract by Viking that included publication of her first picture book, George Upside Down. Able to quit her pizza-delivery job in 2000, she has published several more books since, winning critical praise and a host of young fans along the way due to the appeal of her quirky cartoon drawings and humorous stories.
George Upside Down introduces a playful young boy who loves to point his feet up in the air as a way to stand out from the crowd. While he sees no harm in his talent, others do, and one day George finds himself in the school principal's office. Hoping to discourage George from displaying his talent for going topsy-turvy, the principal arranges for a number of adults to balance on their heads where George is able to observe them. Seeing that standing on one's head now seems to be the norm, the boy decides to find a new way to be unique: he becomes "Super George to the rescue." "Kids may not catch the irony involved, but they will like George's independent spirit," commented reviewer Julie Cummins in Booklist, the reviewer also praising McCarthy's
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use of "flat, bright colors" in her illustrations. A Kirkus Reviews critic dubbed the same artwork "riotous," while in School Library Journal Martha Topol wrote that McCarthy's "vibrant, attention-grabbing illustrations are definitely high energy."
Other self-illustrated picture books by McCarthy include Show Dog, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer playfully dubbed "a fast-moving tale." The story introduces Princess, a pampered pooch with a puffy tail whose encounters with next-door-dog Ed leave her cold. When Ed's human owners, the Hubble family, decide that their mutt is a match for prissy Princess any day, they sign him up for a turn in the dog-show ring, with predictably humorous results. Two sisters travel to some amazing places in The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, which was praised by School Library Journal contributor Sally R. Dow for its "imaginative" story and "whimsical cartoons" featuring McCarthy's characteristic "goggle-eyed characters." These characters become even more goggle-eyed in Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast, praised by Booklist contributor Jesse Karp as "evok[ing] an era gone by, at the same time creating a cozy nostalgia … packed with age-appropriate thrills and scares." The book, which marks the author/illustrator's shift into nonfiction territory, features stunning portraits of the alien creatures that many Americans believe were unleashed upon New Jersey through one of the first illustrations of the power of the modern media.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Children's Writer's and Illustrators Market, 2004, Writer's Digest Books, 2004.
Booklist, February 15, 2003, Julie Cummins, review of George Upside Down, p. 1075; January 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Show Dog, p. 878; February 1, 2006, Jesse Karp, review of Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast, p. 52.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of George Upside Down, p. 236; January 1, 2004, review of Show Dog, p. 878; March 1, 2005, review of The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, p. 291; February 15, 2006, review of Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast, p. 187.
Library Media Connection, March, 2005, review of The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, December 9, 2003, review of George Upside Down, p. 1425; January 12, 2004, review of Show Dog, p. 52; January 9, 2006, review of Aliens Are Coming!
School Library Journal, March, 2003, Martha Topol, review of George Upside Down, p. 198; March, 2004, review of Show Dog, p. 176; March, 2005, Sally R. Dow, review of The Adventures of Patty and the Big Red Bus, p. 185; April, 2006, Rachael Vilmar, review of Aliens Are Coming!, p. 128.
Meghan McCarthy Home Page, http://www.meghanmccarthy.com (January 30, 2006).