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Rick Jacobson Biography

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

Education: Alberta College of Art, earned degree (with honors).


Agent—c/o David and Lynn Bennett, 72 Glengowan Rd., Toronto, Ontario M4N 1G4, Canada.


Children's author and illustrator and graphic designer. Exhibitions: Works (with wife, Laura Fernandez) included in permanent collection of Royal Geographical Society, London, England.

Honors Awards

(All with Laura Fernandez) Toronto Art Directors Club awards; New York Art Directors Club Award of Excellence; Gold Medal for illustration; Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award, 1998, for Jeremiah Learns to Read; Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbon Book Award, 2002, for The Magnificent Piano Recital; Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbon Book Award shortlist, Nautilus Book Awards finalist, 2005, and Hackmatack Award finalist, 2005–06, all for Picasso.



Picasso: Soul on Fire, Tundra (Plattsburgh, NY), 2004.

The Mona Lisa Caper, Tundra (Plattsburgh, NY), 2005.


(With Gordon Suavé) Benjamin Evans, Diary of an Alien: Original Thoughts from the Enterprising Mind of Benjamin Evans, Storybook (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

(With Gordon Suavé) Cheryl Lousley, Reigad Wai: Original Thoughts from the Enterprising Mind of Cheryl Lousley, Storybook (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

David Strobel, Crime in 2001: Original Thoughts from the Enterprising Mind of David Strobel, Storybook (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.


Nancy Hundal, I Heard My Mother Call My Name, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

Esther Kalman, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, Lester Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994, Orchard (New York, NY), 1995.

Jo Ellen Bogart, Jeremiah Learns to Read, Scholastic Canada (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 1997, Orchard (New York, NY), 1999.

Norah McClintock, Sins of the Father, Scholastic Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Michael Bedard, Glass Town, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1997.

Maxine Trottier, Prairie Willow, Stoddart Kids (New York, NY), 1998.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, foreword by Kate Macdonald Butler, Tundra (Plattsburgh, NY), 2000.

Maxine Trottier, Little Dog Moon, Stoddart Kids (New York, NY), 2000.

Marilynn Reynolds, The Magnificent Piano Recital, Stod-dart Kids (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000, Orca (Custer, WA), 2001.

Rukhasana Khan, King of the Skies, North Winds Press (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Douglas Cowling, Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery, North Winds Press (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Contributor of illustrations to Smithsonian, Applied Arts, and Artist's magazine.


Canadian author and illustrator Rick Jacobson and his wife, musician and artist Laura Fernandez, have collaborated on art for more than a dozen picture books. The pair have also worked together in advertising and publishing, and their joint portraits of such notable people as Margaret Atwood, Bill Gates, Sr., and Sir Richard Francis Burton hang in the permanent collection of the Royal Geographical Society in London, England. The pair have provided highly realistic illustrations for new books as well as classics, including a highly lauded edition of L.M. Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables, published in 2000.

One of Jacobson and Fernandez's early picture books, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, features "lush, dramatically lit, romantic illustrations," according to Sarah Ellis in Horn Book. Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, commented that "the paintings are splendid," describing them as "dramatic, richly colored, and alive with extraordinary, bright highlights." For Glass Town, Rick Jacobson joins wife and fellow illustrator Laura Fernandez in relating a true story about a famous art theft in The Mona Lisa Caper. (Text copyright © 2005 by Rick Jacobson. Illustrations copyright © 2005 by Rick Jacob-son and Laura Fernandez. Reproduced by permission of Tundra Books of Northern New York.)a title written by Michael Bedard about the early lives of England's famous Bront? sisters, the "full-bleed, realistic seascapes … give life to" both the real and imaginary settings in the story, according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Ilene Cooper, in Booklist, wrote that "the pictures, interestingly executed in a style that is almost photo-realist, will hold readers' attention."

Of the couple's illustrations for Prairie Willow, Kay Weisman wrote that their "vibrant, textured paintings … highlight the prairie's wide expanses and the family's classic faces." Reviewing Little Dog Moon for School Library Journal, Wendy Lukehart noted that "illustration and text work together to create, by turn, peace, mystery, and drama." Jacobson and Fernandez's illustrations for The Magnificent Piano Recital were honored with the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award; according to a critic for School Librarian, "in the expert hands" of the artists "this tender story … truly comes to life."

Along with his illustration work, Jacobson has written several books dealing with prominent artists and art history, each co-illustrated with Fernandez. Picasso: Soul on Fire is a biography of famous painter Pablo Picasso; several of Picasso's own paintings are represented, along with new illustrations by Jacobson and Fernandez. According to Anne Hatcher in Resource Links, Jacob-son's "text is a fantastic introduction to modern art and the life of Pablo Picasso." Booklist critic Gillian Engberg commented on the couple's original illustrations, considering them "striking oil portraits." Heather E. Miller, writing for School Library Journal, noted that while other books for young readers about Picasso are available, "few have been as accessible to this audience as Jacobson's title." School Arts contributor Ken Marantz commented that Fernandez and Jacobson's paintings "are charged with passion," and Canadian Review of Materials contributor Ann Stinner noted that "the text and illustrations join forces to convey the whole sensuous, messy process of making art."

The Mona Lisa Caper retells a story of crime and art history from the voice of the famous painting herself. Set in 1911, the middle-grade novel recounts how Vincenzo Perugia made an attempt to "liberate" the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum in Paris, intending to take her home to Italy, where she had been created. "The writing is sprightly, and the watercolor artwork superior—realistic, but with touches of whimsy," wrote Booklist critic Ilene Cooper. According to a contributor to Publishers Weekly, "Jacobson and Fernandez's beautifully drafted watercolors convey a sense of excitement while capturing many details of the era." Stinner considered The Mona Lisa Caper "a perfect opportunity to introduce young readers to art history and the real-life adventures of one painting in particular," while Resource Links reviewer Anna S. Rinaldis found the "true gem of a book" to be "a brilliant story that is sure to captivate the attention of its readers."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 15, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Tchaikovsky Discovers America, p. 1331; August, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Glass Town, p. 1897; September 15, 1998, Kay Weisman, review of Prairie Willow, p. 241; November 1, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Picasso: Soul on Fire, p. 496; July, 2005, review of The Mona Lisa Caper, p. 1925.

Children's Bookwatch, June, 2005, review of The Mona Lisa Caper.

Horn Book, March-April, 1995, Elizabeth S. Watson, review of Tchaikovsky Discovers America, p. 190; May-June, 1995, Sarah Ellis, review of Tchaikovsky Discovers America, p. 372.

Publishers Weekly, August 4, 1997, review of Glass Town, p. 75; September 19, 2005, review of The Mona Lisa Caper, p. 66.

Resource Links, October, 2004, Anne Hatcher, review of Picasso, p. 23; October, 2005, Anna S. Rinaldis, review of The Mona Lisa Caper, p. 4.

School Arts, March, 2005, Ken Marantz, review of Picasso, p. 72.

School Librarian, October, 2001, "Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award," p. 63.

School Library Journal, March, 2001, Wendy Lukehart, review of Little Dog Moon, p. 222; April, 2001, Jane Marino, review of The Magnificent Piano Recital, p. 121; December, 2004, Heather E. Miller, review of Picasso, p. 132; August, 2005, Wendy Lukehart, review of The Mona Lisa Caper, p. 98.

Studio, May-June, 1992, "Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson," pp. 24-27.


Canadian Review of Materials Online, http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (April 27, 2001), Val Nielsen, review of Anne of Green Gables; (October 29, 2004) Ann Stinner, review of Picasso; (May 13, 2005) Ann Stinner, review of The Mona Lisa Caper.

Transatlantic Literary Agency Web site, http://www.tla1.com/ (April 27, 2006), "Rick Jacobson."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: James Heneghan (1930-) Biography - Personal to Rick Jacobson Biography - Personal