Rachel Merriman (1971-) Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1971, in Liverpool, England; Education: John Moores University, Foundation Diploma in Art and Design (with distinction), 1990; Manchester Metropolitan University, B.A. (with first class honors), 1993.
Freelance illustrator, including textile design, editorial work, animation sequences, greeting cards, and gift wrap; presents workshops at primary and secondary schools. Exhibitions: Has exhibited works at shows and galleries, including Greenfish Gallery, Liverpool, England.
Autumn Prize, Picture Book Quarterly, 1996, for The Tale of Tobias.
(And illustrator) Six Blind Men and the Elephant, Walker Books (London, England), 1999, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
Jan Mark, The Tale of Tobias, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
Betsy Bang, The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin, Walker Books (London, England), 1998.
Catherine Friend, Funny Ruby (includes Buzz Buzz Buzz, Ruby Jumps, Ruby Eats Hay, and Yuck!), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
Catherine Friend, Silly Ruby (includes The Bathtub, Ruby Is Hungry, Quiet, Ruby!, and The Apple Tree), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
The Three Little Pigs, Walker Books (London, England), 2001.
Josephine Feeney, So You Want to Be the Perfect Family?, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2002.
James Berry, A Nest Full of Stars, Macmillan (London, England), 2002.
Henrietta Branford, Dimanche Diller, Collins (London, England), 2002.
Henrietta Branford, Dimanche Diller in Danger, Collins (London, England), 2002.
Henrietta Branford, Dimanche Diller at Sea, Collins (London, England), 2002.
British illustrator Rachel Merriman first entered the world of children's literature by providing the pictures for The Tale of Tobias, a retelling of an ancient Hebrew story from the Apocryphal Book of Tobit. Author Jan Mark hewed closely to the original story, which tells of the righteous Tobit, his son Tobias, Tobias's loyal dog, and the angel Azarias. The tale itself is bleak, as Tobit suffers numerous afflictions, but "the levity of the artwork balances the gravity of the events," Jennifer Brabander commented in Horn Book.
Merriman has also illustrated two books by Catherine Friend, Funny Ruby and Silly Ruby. These two earlyreader texts, written in very short, simple sentences, feature the adventures of a hapless sheep named Ruby. Merriman's illustrations for Funny Ruby "are done in a simple, colorful, childlike style," remarked Adele Greenlee in School Library Journal, while Christina F. Renaud noted in the same periodical that Merriman adds "bright illustrations" to Silly Ruby, complementing Friend's short text.
Merriman once told SATA: "I don't think I ever chose to be an illustrator. I feel as though illustration chose me. I read fiction and drew continually as a child, making my own miniature books, casting myself and my best school friend as central characters. I suppose I've never really grown up.
"Beatrix Potter and E. H. Shepard were favorites when I was a very young child, and I still return to them now as something to aspire to in terms of draftsmanship. Modern picture books have a much stronger 'design' bias, which is also something I enjoy enormously."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Horn Book, January-February, 1997, Jennifer Brabander, review of The Tale of Tobias, pp. 77-78.
Picture Book Quarterly, autumn, 1996.
School Librarian, May, 1996.
School Library Journal, October, 1996, Kathy Piehl, review of The Tale of Tobias, p. 115; February, 2001, Adele Greenlee, review of Funny Ruby, p. 100; March, 2001, Christina F. Renaud, review of Silly Ruby, p. 194.*