Margot Apple (1946-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1946, in Detroit, MI; Education: Pratt Institute, B.F.A., 1969. Hobbies and other interests: Knitting, sewing, vegetable gardening, flea markets.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Greenwillow Press/William Morrow, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
Illustrator and author of children's books. Worked variously as a potter, greeting-card designer, school bus driver, shop attendant, nurse's aide, cook, and teacher's aide.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Western Massachusetts Illustrators' Guild.
Nebraska Golden Sower Award, 1982, for Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby; Utah Children's Choice, 1983, for The Chocolate Touch; Ladybug Honor Book for illustration, 1993.
Blanket, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1990.
Brave Martha, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1999.
Steve Futterman, Soft House, Harper (New York, NY), 1976.
The Day the White Whales Came to Bangor, Cobblesmith, 1979.
Jane O'Connor, Yours till Niagara Falls, Abby, Hastings, 1979.
Robin Supraner, Mystery of the Witches' Shoes, Troll Associates (Matewah, NJ), 1979.
Louis Ross, In the Peanut Butter Colony, Gingerbread House, 1979.
Jean Thompson, Don't Forget Michael, Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.
Patrick Skane Catling, The Chocolate Touch, Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Troll Associates (Matewah, NJ), 1979.
Lee Glazer, Cookie Becker Casts a Spell, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1980.
Linda Allen, Lionel and the Spy Next Door, Morrow (New York, NY), 1980.
Rose Gerydanus, Suzie Goes Shopping, Troll Associates (Matewah, NJ), 1980.
Howard Everett Smith, Animal Marvels, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
Joyce Segal, The Scariest Witch in Wellington Towers, Coward-McCann (New York, NY), 1981.
Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson, When the Moon Shines Bright: A Bedtime Chant, Harper (New York, NY), 1981.
Ellen B. Jackson, The Bear in the Bathtub, Addison (New York, NY), 1981.
Gail Kay Haines, Baking in a Box, Cooking in a Can, Morrow (New York, NY), 1981.
Dorothy F. Haas, Poppy and the Outdoors Cat, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1981.
Marjorie Lewis, Ernie and the Mile-long Muffler, Coward-McCann (New York, NY), 1982.
Jean Van Leeuwen, Benjy and the Power of the Zingles, Dial (New York, NY), 1982.
Dick King-Smith, The Mouse Butcher, Viking (New York, NY), 1982.
Sally Wittman, The Wonderful Mrs. Trumbly, Harper (New York, NY), 1982.
Jean Van Leeuwen, The Great Rescue Operation, Dial (New York, NY), 1982.
Eleanor J. Lapp, The Blueberry Bears, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1983.
Jean Van Leeuwen, Benjy in Business, Dial (New York, NY), 1983.
Paul Fleischman, Phoebe Danger, Detective in the Case of the Two-Minute Cough, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1983.
Marjorie Lewis, Wrongway Applebaum, Coward-McCann (New York, NY), 1984.
Dorothy F. Haas, Tink in a Tangle, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1984.
Drollene P. Brown, Sybil Rides for Independence, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1985.
Dorothy F. Haas, Too Much Trouble, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.
Judy Delton, Angel's Mother's Boyfriend, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1986.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep in a Jeep, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1986.
Barbara Williams, Donna Jean's Disaster, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1986.
Ruth Hooker, Sara Loves Her Big Brother, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1987.
Judy Delton, Angel's Mother's Wedding, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1987.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep on a Ship, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1989.
Roni Schotter, Bunny's Night Out, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1989.
Abby Levine, You Push, I Ride, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1989.
Judy Delton, Angel's Mother's Baby, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1989.
Betsy Sachs, The Boy Who Ate Dog Biscuits, Random House (New York, NY), 1989.
Betsy Sachs, The Trouble with Santa, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep in a Shop, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1991.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep out to Eat, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1992.
Amy Lawson (pseudonym of Amy Gordon), Star Baby, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1992.
Tricia Gardella, Just like My Dad, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1993.
William Cole, Have I Got Dogs!, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep Take a Hike, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1994.
Linda Cave, In the Pond, Open Court Publishing (Chicago, IL), 1995.
Carol Carrick, Banana Beer, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1995.
Nancy Shaw, Sheep Trick or Treat, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1997.
Tricia Gardella, Casey's New Hat, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1997.
Tony Crunk, Big Mama, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2000.
Jessie Haas, Runaway Radish, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2001, published as Runaway Pony, Harper (New York, NY), 2004.
Jessie Haas, Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's Alphabet, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2002.
Phyllis Root, The Name Quilt, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2003.
Jessie Haas, Scamper and the Horse Show, Greenwillow (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including Cricket and Ladybug.
In an illustrating career spanning almost three decades, Margot Apple has brought to life the texts of authors from Dick King-Smith and Paul Fleischman to Judy Delton and Nancy Shaw with her detailed pencil drawings. In books such as Eleanor J. Lapp's The Blueberry Bears and Nancy Shaw's Sheep Trick or Treat, Apple brings to life humorous animal characters, while other books, such as Phyllis Root's The Name Quilt and Tony Crunk's Big Mama focus on the special bonds of human families.
Born to an immigrant couple living in Detroit, Apple grew up in a household that did not contain many books. However, she was exposed to illustrated versions of such classic children's books as Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willow, and the popular Little Golden Books at the Detroit Library. "I loved going to the library, even though I was a poor reader," she recalled. "Checking out piles of books, I took them home with every intention of reading them, but didn't get through a single one." Instead of the story, Apple was captivated by the illustrations: "Paul Brown and Kate Serendy's illustrations were some of my favorites."
Apple was fortunate in that her mother was a trained commercial artist, and her aptitude for artistic expression was encouraged at home. As she once recalled: "I got to draw. Drawing was always there for me, like learning to walk… Pencils and paper kept disap pearing from beside the telephone, which did not entirely please my father. Though I doubt his annoyance was sincere, because … he was very proud of me." Apple was very shy as a child, and drawing also served as a way for her to occupy her hours alone and use her vivid imagination. When she was old enough, however, and her parents enrolled her in art classes alongside older students, she lost some of her enthusiasm, and wished she were taking ballet lessons or even joining a Girl Scout troop. But her father, in particular, kept Apple focused on art; "Anything studied without the intention of pursuing a career was an extravagance as far as he was concerned," she recalled.
Despite her shyness, Apple excelled at her art classes, and quickly outranked the other students her age. "After a while I was placed in with the older kids," she remembered. "While it did wonders for my ego in terms of my ability, socially I was still a dumb, sheltered, ten year old who didn't know what those teenagers were talking about. Boyfriends? Make-up?" When her parents enrolled her in a sculpture class at age fourteen and she was confronted with her first nude model, Apple thought things were getting a bit out of control. Fortunately, for the most part, her high school years were "thoroughly enjoyable," thanks to some supportive and encouraging teachers. "School rules were stretched for art students," Apple admitted of her high school years; "we got away with a lot. In case we needed to draw the houses down the street or the bums in the park, we were issued all-day hall passes for the entire semester. In addition to having free roam of the halls, we got to eat lunch in the art rooms rather than with all the peons in the lunchroom, and we thought we were just the coolest!"
After graduating from high school, Apple traveled to the East Coast and attended New York's Pratt Institute, where she earned a B.F.A. She recalled her college career as "your basic disaster," noting wryly: "I think artists must have been taking teaching jobs to pay the bills while trying to get [their work] into galleries. Abstract Expression was in vogue in those days, so if you happened to want to paint anything that looked like something, you were largely ignored and given poor grades."
Frustrated by the lack of encouragement she received, Apple changed her major to photography and printmaking, and found an affinity with etching, "because it was the form of printmaking that allowed me to remain the most faithful to drawing. I don't use big, bold shapes, large lobs of color," the illustrator explained. "I'm more comfortable with line, and the fluidity of the line is perhaps the most distinguishable quality of my work."
While her degree from Pratt was in print-making, Apple found a vocation as a potter, inspired by a class she had taken at Pratt. "The whimsical side of me, which made silly pots with wings and horns, got … positive reinforcement…So I decided I wanted to be a coun try potter and moved to a mill town in New England." Away from the city and living in Massachusetts, Apple quickly realized that whimsical pots were not enough: "my consciousness was heightened to an entirely new … level of reality; one which consisted of having to feed myself and pay the rent." Jobs as a waitress, a card designer, a bus driver, and a teacher's aide followed, as Apple tried to find a way into a more creative field. Her efforts were supported by friends from Pratt, and Apple eventually put together an portfolio of drawings, illustrated a manuscript by a friend, and wound up with a publishing contract from Harper & Row.
While, like many first-time-published authors and illustrators, Apple thought that her first book meant that more would automatically follow, she found that not to be the case. However, with persistence, she gradually built relationships with editors at several publishing houses, and has since provided illustrations for over fifty picture books and chapter books.
Picture books for young children have remained Apple's first love throughout her career, and she has particularly enjoyed working on the quirky texts by author Nancy Shaw. In titles that include Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep Trick or Treat, and Sheep Take a Hike. Following the six adventurous woolies on a trek in the woods, Sheep Take a Hike was praised by Horn Book contributor Mary M. Burns as a "delightful" story featuring a "fleecy flock of crowd pleasers." Burns praised Apple for creating "lively illustrations" with a "sure sense of line and composition," while Horn Book colleague Martha V. Parravano had similar praise for the artwork in Sheep Trick or Treat. A Halloween story, Sheep Trick or Treat is given added humor by Apple's "slapstick" illustrations, according to Parravano, who added: "The expressions on the animals' faces are priceles."
More serious in tone is Phyllis Root's The Name Quilt, which several critics have noted benefits from Apple's illustrations. The artist's "soft-focus rural scenes complement the tale's warm, intimate tone perfectly," noted a Kirkus reviewer of Root's story about a girl and her grandmother who work together to re-create a valued family quilt. Big Mama, a picture book by Tony Crunk that also focuses on a rural family, brings its world to life with the help of illustrations that are "full of action and lively details," according to Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan. Noting the gentle nostalgia of Apple's pastel drawings, a Publishers Weekly contributor added that in Big Mama the illustrator's "panoramic views of dirt roads and clapboard houses retain the coziness of country living."
Several of Apple's illustration efforts have involved horses. Runaway Radish—written by Jessie Haas and later published as Runaway Pony—is a girl-and-pony story told from the pony's point of view, and follows the career of a red-coated pony as he teaches a series of young riders how to ride and treat their mount with kindness and respect. Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's Alphabet is another collaboration between Apple and Haas that attracted praise in particular for its illustrations. "The horses are beautifully illustrated … and the shading adds a feeling of warm realism," School Library Journal contributor Wanda Meyers-Hines noted of the ABC book, while Booklist critic Julie Cummins dubbed the work "charming." "Defined by soft yet studied strokes, Apple's illustrations portray the animals' strength and beauty," added a Kirkus contributor, who wrote that the work contains "much to admire."
Prefering to create pen-and-ink or pencilled line drawing tinted with soft watercolor washes rather than work in opaque paints, Apple does most of her illustration work on her kitchen table—after competing for space with assorted cats, that is. "When I draw," she once explained, "the characters become very real to me. Some of my illustrations may not be examples of technical perfection, but I don't claim to be a draftsman or a photo-realist. At best I hope to bring to my drawings a sense of emotion; I try to put myself into the character's place, feel what they feel, discover how my face would look if I were feeling as they do."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Book, May-June, 2002, review of Runaway Radish, p. 29.
Booklist, April 15, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of Casey's New Hat, p. 1435; September 1, 1997, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Sheep Trick or Treat, p. 141; February 15, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Big Mama, p. 1104; January 1, 2002, Julie Cummins, review of Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's Alphabet, p. 864.
Horn Book, November-December, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Sheep Take a Hike, p. 726; September-October, Martha V. Parravano, review of Sheep Trick or Treat, p. 563.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2001, review of Appaloosa Zebra, p. 1685; March 1, 2003, review of The Name Quilt, p. 397.
Publishers Weekly, February 3, 1997, review of Casey's New Hat, p. 106; February 21, 2000, review of Big Mama, p. 86; January 13, 2003, review of The Name Quilt, p. 59.
School Library Journal, April, 1995, Marilyn Taniguchi, review of Banana Beer, p. 98; September, 1997, Dina Sherman, review of Sheep Trick or Treat, p. 194; September, 1999, Tom S. Hurlburt, review of Brave Martha, p. 174; May, 2001, Lisa Falk, review of Runaway Radish, p. 122; February, 2002, Wanda Meyers-Hines, review of Appaloosa Zebra, p. 101; May, 2003, Mary Elam, review of The Name Quilt, p. 129.
Houghton Mifflin Web site, http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (February 5, 2004), "Margot Apple."*
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