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Mercedes McDonald Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Illustrator, Sidelights

Born 1985. Education: Atlanta College of Art, B.F.A., 1980; attended California College of Arts and Crafts, 1982–83; San Francisco Art Institute, M.F.A., 1987. Hobbies and other interests: Cats.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bloomsbury USA, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Freelance illustrator. California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco, adjunct professor of illustration, 1989–95; member of adjunct faculty at College of the Canyons, Valencia, CA, and California State University Fullerton.

Honors Awards

Award from Communication Arts, 1990, for feature article; Maxwell Award, Dog Writer's Association of America, 1998, for Cooking with Dogs.


Jennifer Trainer Thompson, Hot Licks: Great Recipes for Making and Cooking with Hot Sauces, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1994.

Marguerite M. Davol, How Snake Got His Hiss: An Original Tale, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Anne A. Johnson, Smoothies: Twenty-two Frosty Fruit Drinks, Klutz Press, 1997.

Cindy Chang, compiler, Family, designed by Kathryn Siegler, Andrews McMeel (Kansas City, MO), 1997.

Heather J. Gondek, Morning in the Garden/Nightime in the Garden, Intervisual Books, 2001, published as Morning in the Garden, Barron's (Hauppauge, NY), 2002.

Mercedes McDonald

Susan Middleton Elya, Fairy Trails: A Story Told in English and Spanish, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to magazines, including Communication Arts. Contributor of artwork to books, including Cooking with Dogs, by Karen Dowell, 1998.


Art has been a part of Mercedes McDonald's life since she was a very young girl. Her career began with drawing at the dining-room table as a child, and progressed to studies at the Atlanta College of Art and the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1994, McDonald's illustrations were featured in the cookbook Hot Licks: Great Recipes for Making and Cooking with Hot Sauces. Since illustrating that title, McDonald had also established herself as a children's book illustrator, where her art has helped bring to life tales for young readers.

How Snake Got His Hiss: An Original Tale is a folk-style tale told by Marguerite M. Davol and accompanied by McDonald's illustrations. The snake's motions are described in the text and revealed through the art; a Publishers Weekly critic commented that the "motion-filled, stylized pastels … handily match the tale's exuberance." Janice del Negro, writing in Booklist, felt that the illustrator's "use of strong geometric patterns adds energy to an already energetic tale."

In 2005, McDonald's work was featured in the bilingual Fairy Trails: A Story Told in English and Spanish. Booklist contributor Stella Clark felt that the text and artwork were "beautifully conceived," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the illustrations feature "luminous colors to convey a dream sense of well-being." Melissa Christy Buron commented in her School Library Journal review that McDonald's "illustrations have an appealing folk-art quality."

McDonald once told SATA: "I am a fine artist lucky enough to make a career out of art. I started doing illustration while in graduate school, and I love what I do. Illustration allows me time (not much) to pursue my fine art, and I love having my studio at home. In my spare time, I try to do outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding. Also, since I love cats, I try to devote time to animal rescue; my niche is the care and feeding of orphan kittens. I also enjoy finding collectibles and odd junk at flea markets. I try to have fun with my art, and hopefully that shows in the work."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 15, 1996, Janice del Negro, review of How Snake Got His Hiss: An Original Tale, p. 1445; May 15, 2005, Stella Clark, review of Fairy Trails: A Story Told in English and Spanish, p. 1664.

McDonald's illustrations for Susan Middleton Elya's Fairy Trails add an ethnic flavor to the English/Spanish text about two children's encounter with fairy-tale characters during a walk in the woods.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Fairy Trails, p. 537.

Publishers Weekly, January 29, 1996, review of How Snake Got His Hiss, p. 100.

School Library Journal, March, 1996, Judith Constantinides, review of How Snake Got His Hiss, p. 167; August, 2005, Melissa Christy Buron, review of Fairy Trails, p. 93.


College of the Canyons Art Department Web site, http://www.canyons.edu/departments/ART/ (March 24, 2006), profile of McDonald.

Mercedes McDonald Home Page, http://www.mercedesmcdonald.com (March 24, 2006).

Additional topics

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