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Bryn Barnard (1956–) Biography

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

Born 1956, in Los Angeles, CA; Education: Attended University of California, Irvine, 1974–75; attended Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, 1977; University of California, Berkeley, B.A. (studio art and Asian studies; magna cum laude), 1979; attended Art Center College of Design, 1979–81.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Crown, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.


Children's book illustrator and author, and graphic and fine artist. University of Delaware, Newark, assistant professor of art, 1991–95; University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, adjunct professor of illustration, 1994–96. Creative consultant for companies in Malaysia; consulting associate for Universities Field Staff International. Exhibitions: Work exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Paintings included in permanent collections at National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC; Kennedy Space Center, FL; Stennis Space Center, MS; Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Pasadena, CA; and other private and corporate collections. Murals installed in Jenet Sinegal Patient Care Building and Melinda French Gates Ambulatory Care Building, both at Children's Hospital Seattle.


Society of Illustrators, Institute of Current World Affairs, Phi Beta Kappa.

Bryn Barnard

Honors Awards

Crane-Rogers Foundation fellowship, 1981–83; New Jersey State Arts Council fellowship, 1992; Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles, Silver Medal, 1994; Society of Illustrators, New York, award of merit, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2005; Fulbright fellowship, 1999–2000.



Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History, Crown (New York, NY), 2003.

Outbreak: Plagues That Changed History, Crown (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to International Studio and New York Times Book Review.


Harry Harrison, Galactic Dreams (short stories), Tor (New York, NY), 1994.

Victoria Crenson, Bay Shore Park: The Death and Life of an Amusement Park, W.H. Freeman (New York, NY), 1995.

Mary Quattlebaum, reteller, In the Beginning, Time-Life for Children (Alexandria, VA), 1995.

Herman J. Viola, North American Indians, Crown (New York, NY), 1996.

Mary Martin, reteller, Adam and Eve, Time-Life Kids (Alexandria, VA), 1996.

Lucille Recht Penner, Westward Ho!: The Story of the Pioneers, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.

Joyce Milton, Gorillas: Gentle Giants of the Forest, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.

Melvin Berger, Don't Believe It!: Fibs and Facts about Animals, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.

Marjorie Cowley, Anooka's Answer, Clarion (New York, NY), 1998.

Chris Eboch, The Well of Sacrifice, Clarion (New York, NY), 1999.

Lucille Recht Penner, Big Birds, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Nathan Zimelman, Sold!: A Mothematics Adventure, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2000.

Michelle Knudsen, Colorful Chameleons!, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

Joyce Milton, Gorillas: Gentle Giants of the Forest, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.

Shirley-Rae Redmond, Tentacles!: Tales of the Giant Squid, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.


Beginning his illustration career in the mid-1980s, Bryn Barnard creates artwork for both fantasy-based children's novels and fact-based nonfiction for younger readers. In addition, in 2003 Barnard also took on the role of author with Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History, which profiles nine of the most prominent natural disasters ever recorded in world history. With profiles ranging from the asteroid that hit Earth and killed off the dinosaurs over sixty-five million years ago to the tidal wave that swept away Minoan civilization and the deadly storms that ravaged the armies of England's King Edward III in 1360, the book was praised by Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper as a "fascinating offering" in which "Barnard describes … events and more in an absorbing narrative that includes touches of humor."

Similar in format to Dangerous Planet, Barnard's Outbreak: Plagues That Changed History starts with the microscopic: the microorganisms that periodically cause massive outbreaks of disease among the human populations of the world. Barnard includes discussions of the Black Death, which decimated European and Asian populations during the fourteenth century, as well as of smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, and influenza, among others. In School Library Journal Deanna Romriell praised the book as "fascinating and informative," noting Barnard's focus on how these waves of disease have altered human history. In the New York Times Book Review, Julie Just dubbed the work "timely" due to its publication in the midst of news warnings of a coming "bird flu" pandemic, while a Denver Post writer noted that the author/illustrator's "chatty, lucid explanations of the microbes responsible for death on a wide scale" would find fans among followers of the popular CSI television series.

As an illustrator, Barnard's work has been cited for its ability to expand and enhance the texts it accompanies. Discussing Joyce Milton's Gorillas: Gentle Giants of the Forest, which discusses the gorilla life cycle, habitat, and way of life, Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist that Barnard's illustrations are "dramatic and colorful." Westward Ho!: The Story of the Pioneers, a nonfiction treatment of the types of journeys made by early American settlers, written by Lucille Recht Penner, contains "plentiful illustrations" by Barnard that "lend an inviting air to the large pages," according to Steven Engel-fried in School Library Journal. For Bay Shore Park: The Death and Life of an Amusement Park, written by Victoria Crenson, Barnard's illustrations record the changes in the land over the period of nearly fifty years after an amusement park in Maryland was demolished and the land left to nature. School Library Journal reviewer Eva Elisabeth Von Ancken remarked that the book's "lush illustrations and text record the changes [to the land] over time," reminding readers of "the indomitable forces of nature."

Barnard's artistic contributions to children's fiction include his work for Marjorie Cowley's Anooka's Answer, which is set in southern France during the Paleolithic era, some twelve thousand years ago, and focuses on twelve-year-old Anooka. "The addition of illustrations … will help youngsters understand a time period with which they have little familiarity," attested Jeanette Larson in School Library Journal. In Chris Eboch's The Well of Sacrifice Barnard's artwork brings to life the coming-of-age crisis experienced by a young girl on the verge of womanhood. Barnard has also contributed the illustrations to Galactic Dreams, a collection of short stories by the popular humor writer for children Harry Harrison.

Barnard once told SATA: "Not many American illustrators start their art careers in Malaysia. Mine began there in 1973, when my polychrome dervish-as-spin-art act won the Johor Baru Mad Artist competition. Though I now live on an island in Puget Sound and have traded performance art antics for the illustrator's brush and mouse, my affection for Malaysia and the influence of Beginning his career as an illustrator before adding on the role of writer, Barnard creates detailed paintings for books such as this 1999 novel, set in the ninth century amid a sometimes brutal Mayan culture.that culture on my work remains undiminished. I have returned to the country again and again: in 1977–78 to study batik and perform with a shadow puppet theater troupe, in 1981–84 to investigate the art and ethos of intercultural advertising, and from November 1999 to February 2000, as a Fulbright fellow, to paint, draw, and lecture on illustration and design at the Universiti Sains Malaysia on the island of Penang.

"My mixed-media art incorporates acrylic, oil, transfer, and digital imagery and spans the range from magic realist landscapes, to scientific and historical tableaux, to children's book illustration. In my work for kids, my own children are my inspiration, models, and severest critics. If it passes muster with them, I know my work may have a chance in the wider world.

"Always based on observation, my style harkens to the work of the European academics. I worship at the shrines of the French painters Jean Leon Gerome and Alexandre Cabanel, the English neo-classicists Lawrence Alma-Tadema and J.W. Waterhouse, and the great Russian itinerants Vasily Vereshchagin, Ilya Re-pin, and Iwan Schischkin. One day, perhaps, I will be able to walk in their shadows."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Gorillas: Gentle Giants of the Forest, p. 1504; July, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Tentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid, p. 1900; December 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Dangerous Planet: Natural Disasters That Changed History, p. 674.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2003, Deborah Stevenson, review of Dangerous Planet, p. 93; February, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Outbreak: Plagues That Changed History, p. 259.

Children's Digest, March-April, 2006, Emily Johnson, review of Outbreak, P. 19.

Denver Post, April 30, 2006, review of Outbreak.

New York Times Book Review, November 16, 2003, Natalie Angier, review of Dangerous Planet; March 12, 2006, review of Outbreak.

Publishers Weekly, February 28, 1994, p. 76; March 29, 1999, p. 105.

School Library Journal, August, 1995, Eva Elisabeth Von Ancken, review of Bay Shore Park, p. 133; March, 1998, Steven Engelfried, review of Westward Ho!, p. 200; December, 1998, Jeanette Larson, review of Anooka's Answer, p. 121; May, 1999, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of The Well of Sacrifice, p. 122; November, 2003, Patricia Manning, review of Dangerous Planet, p. 153; February, 2006, Deanna Romriell, review of Outbreak, p. 140.


Bryn Barnard Home Page, http://www.brynbarnard.com (April 12, 2006).

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