Sylvie Wickstrom (1960–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1960, in Casablanca, Morocco; Education: École Normale de Beauvais, degree (French); attended Arts Students' League (New York, NY), and École des Beaux Arts (Paris, France). Hobbies and other interests: Reading, listening to music, biking, going to plays, concerts, movies, art shows, and galleries.
Agent—Linda Pratt, Sheldon Fogelman Agency, 10 E. 40th St., New York, NY 10016.
Painter and illustrator, beginning 1987.
Mothers Can't Get Sick, Crown (New York, NY), 1989.
Turkey on the Loose!, Dial (New York, NY), 1990.
I Love You, Mister Bear, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Raffi, The Wheels on the Bus, Random House (New York, NY), 1988.
Clyde Robert Bulla, The Christmas Coat, Knopf (New York, NY), 1989.
Roberta Edwards, Five Silly Fishermen, Random House (New York, NY), 1989, reprinted, 2003.
Lillian Morrison, compiler, Yours till Niagara Falls: A Book of Autograph Verses, new edition, Thomas Y. Crowell (New York, NY), 1990.
Laura Simms, The Squeaky Door, Crown (New York, NY), 1991.
Mary Elise Monsell, Armadillo, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1991.
Karen Ackerman, This Old House, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1992.
Barbara A. Moe, Dog Days for Dudley, Bradbury Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Betty Miles, Hey! I'm Reading!: A How-to-Read Book for Beginners, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
Amy Goldman Koss, The Baby, Open Court Publisher (Chicago, IL), 1995.
Deborah Hautzig, Walter the Warlock, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch Goes to School, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.
Stuart J. Murphy, Room for Ripley, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
Ann Whitford Paul, Silly Sadie, Silly Samuel (reader), Simon &Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch's Bad Dream, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch Takes Charge!, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Anna Jane Hayes, Silly Sara: A Phonics Reader, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch Goes to Camp, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch Learns to Read, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
Deborah Hautzig, Little Witch Loves to Write, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Lola M. Shaefer, Loose Tooth (reader), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Graham Tether, The Knee Book (reader), Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
Anna Jane Hayes, Smarty Sara, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.
Natasha Wing, Go to Bed, Monster, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Click and NAEYC Magazine.
Primarily an illustrator, Sylvie Wickstrom is noted for her work in collaboration with writer Deborah Hautzig on Hautzing's "Little Witch" novels for younger readers. In addition to the "Little Witch" books, Wickstrom has illustrated books by several other writers, such as Amy Goldman Koss, Stuart J. Murphy, and Clyde Robert Bulla, and has even donned the "author" hat by creating both text and illustrations for the picture books Mothers Can't Get Sick, Turkey on the Loose!, and I Love You, Mister Bear. Reviewing Wickstrom's work for Mary Elise Monsell's picture book Armadillo, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "young readers will be … charmed by the soft, warm-toned wa-tercolors," while in a Booklist review of Ann Whitford Paul's farm-themed picture book Silly Sadie, Silly Samuel, Hazel Rochman praised Wickstrom's play on painter Grant Wood's famous picture American Gothic, adding that the book's "innocent slapstick nonsense" is reflected in the book's "colorful cartoons."
In I Love You, Mister Bear a scruffy, well-worn teddy bear looking for a new home at a yard sale finds one when Sosha—named for the author's daughter—feels sorry for the tattered toy. Bringing the bear home, the girl watches as a bath and a suit of new clothes created with the help of Sosha's mother accomplishes a transformation, and Mister Bear turns out to be quite dapper indeed. Praising Wickstrom's text as "endearing" and "simply told," Carolyn Phelan wrote in Booklist that the picture book is "illustrated with affection and panache," while in School Library Journal Marge Loch-Wouters described Wickstrom's "quiet story" as "perfect for beginning readers or one-on-one sharing." The author/illustrator "makes every picture and line resonate with Sosha's forthright love," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer, adding that the art reflects "the pride all children take in their own redemptive powers."
Wickstrom told SATA: "I grew up in France. Besides being an avid reader, I always loved to draw and paint. Although proud of my artistic production, my parents did not favor a career in art. After high school, I tried a year of commercial studies. It was a nightmare. I then followed in my parents' footsteps and became a school teacher. After one year of teaching, the need to create took over and there came the chance to study for one year at the Arts Students' League in New York City. It was heaven. I painted, drew, met my future husband, and discovered the wonderful and magic world of picture books. (They were often close to the art books in bookstores.) Returning to France, I went to the Beaux Arts in Paris, married Thor Wickstrom, painted some more, and started a portfolio of illustrations. Back in the United States in 1985, I took my portfolio around to publishers in New York City and eventually was offered a chance to illustrate Raffi's The Wheels on the Bus.
"After a few more illustrated books and a move upstate, I had a daughter who required an enormous amount of being read to. She also loved improvised stories about herself. The idea of writing my own stories had already taken seed but Sosha was the fertilizer. It took many years and many rewrites before I Love You, Mister Bear came out in 2004.
"I am still writing, although at this date, no story of mine is under contract. I am still illustrating, of course. And I am also painting, using my maiden name Sylvie Kantorovitz as my painter's name.
"When I illustrate, I enjoy being able to create characters undergoing a whole range of feelings, and families where parents are present and all-loving … not as it was for me. Being a child is a very difficult time of life and a time that will shape what we adults are. It is therefore important to me to describe a range of emo-tions—albeit in a cartoony way—that I think children go through every day. I wish I had been taught that sadness, jealousy, anger, pain, longing were valid feelings. I've wondered if my love for the world of picture books is a way for me to re-create a childhood for myself.
"As far as my style is concerned, I strive for simplicity. The 'less is more' phrase could be my motto. I enjoy varying the medium and trying different approaches with every title. I never feel I've achieved my goal, though…. I guess it is good as it keeps me reaching for more."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 1992, Ilene Cooper, review of This Old House, p. 436; October 1, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Dog Days for Dudley, p. 329; December 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Silly Sadie, Silly Samuel, p. 716; January 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of I Love You, Mister Bear, p. 884.
Horn Book, July-August, 1988, Karen Jameyson, review of The Wheels on the Bus, p. 483; November-December, 1989, Ellen Fader, review of Mothers Can't Get Sick, p. 765.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of I Love You, Mister Bear, p. 1365.
Publishers Weekly, February 12, 1988, review of The Wheels on the Bus, p. 83; July 14, 1989, review of Mothers Can't Get Sick, p. 75; August 23, 1991, review of Armadillo, p. 61; August 31, 1992, review of This Old House, p. 78; January 19, 2004, review of I Love You, Mister Bear, p. 74.
School Library Journal, June-July, 1988, Jennifer Smith, review of The Wheels on the Bus, p. 98; September, 1989, Patricia Homer, review of Mothers Can't Get Sick, p. 235; April, 1990, Sharon McEmeel, review of Five Silly Fishermen, p. 88; October, 1990, Susan Hepler, review of The Christmas Coat, p. 34; March, 1991, Leslie Barban, review of Turkey on the Loose!, p. 180; May, 1991, Luann Toth, review of The Squeaky Door, p. 84; November, 1991, Virginia E. Jeschelnig, review of Armadillo, p. 104; October, 1994, Christina Door, review of Dog Days for Dudley, p. 94; March, 2000, Diane Janoff, review of Silly Sadie, Silly Samuel, p. 211; January, 2004, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of I Love You, Mister Bear, p. 107.
Sylvie Wickstrom Home Page, http://www.sylviewickstrom.com (April 12, 2006).
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