Erik Brooks (1972-) Biography
Personal, Career, Member, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1972, in Madison, WI; Education: Carleton College, B.A., 1994.
Author and illustrator of children's books. Carleton College, Northfield, MN, cross-country and track coach.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Children's Literature Network, Loft Literary Center.
The Practically Perfect Pajamas, Winslow Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom, Albert Whitman (New York, NY), 2003.
Shirley Climo, Monkey Business, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
Emme Aronson, What Are You Hungry For?, HarperCollins (New York, NY), in press.
Work in Progress
Illustrating The Scritchy Little Twitchell Sisters, by Aimee Garn; Slow Days for Howard, for Henry Holt and Company.
Children's book author and illustrator Erik Brooks has always been passionate about art, so much so, in fact, that he decided to write his own children's book in order to have something to illustrate. When the result, The Practically Perfect Pajamas, was picked up by a publisher, Brooks began to consider a career as a writer as well as an illustrator, and the success of his second effort, Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom, seems to prove that the notion was a good one. In addition to writing his own books, Brooks also illustrates texts by other writers, including Monkey Business by Shirley Climo and What Are You Hungry For? by Emme Aronson. When asked why he likes being an author and illustrator by an interviewer for the Winslow Press Web site, Brooks responded, "because I like to think that I am making a difference to the kids reading my stories." When he is not writing, Brooks can often be found putting his teaching degree to work, guest speaking in numerous schools throughout the northwestern part of the United States, or pursuing his freelance illustration work.
Children are taught a valuable lesson in The Practically Perfect Pajamas: that you should always be true to yourself. Polar bear Percy Orlando Leonard Alexander Reginald Bear loves to wear his colorful pajamas. There is only one problem; he gets teased by all the other polar bears for wearing them. Desperately trying to fit in, Percy decided to sacrifice his favorite pajamas in hopes of being accepted. His plan works and the teasing stops, but Percy now has other problems to grapple with. Longing for his forbidden PJs, Percy meets Aurora the fox, who inspires the bear to be himself and take pride in his individuality. While a reviewer for Publishers Weekly dubbed Brook's compositions as overly "cartoonish," Booklist contributor Connie Fletcher found the ending of The Practically Perfect Pajamas a "satisfying resolution to a story that every child can identify with."
Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom tells the story in a rhyming verse pattern of young and adventurous Octavius Bloom as he tries to solve the mystery surrounding a suspicious-looking shed in his neighborhood. The shed belongs to Priscilla O'Moore, a mysterious, witchlike woman who lives at the "dark Dead End" of Crabapple Street. After his classmates warn him about the scary noises they have heard coming from the shed, and describe things they have seen—like a Zombie's hand—Octavius sets out on a mission to find out exactly what is going on. Suspense builds for readers as he bravely enters the shed to uncover the truth, and a surprise awaits as they discover what is actually inside, all brought to life with Brooks's colored-pencil and watercolor cartoon illustrations. Linda Ludke commented in School Library Journal that Brooks's illustrations are "imaginatively detailed, and the mysterious shadows visible through the shed's windows build suspense."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 15, 2000, Connie Fletcher, review of The Practically Perfect Pajamas, p. 1747.
Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2000, review of The Practically Perfect Pajamas, p. 221.
School Library Journal, May, 2000, Barbara Buckley, review of The Practically Perfect Pajamas, p. 132; June, 2003, Lina Ludke, review of Octavius Bloom and the House of Doom, p. 96.
Children's Literature Network, http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/ (February 5, 2004), "Erik Brooks."
Erik Brooks Home Page, http://www.erikbrooks.com/ (April 7, 2004).
Winslow Press Web site, http://www.winslowpress.com/ (February 5, 2004), "Erik Brooks."*
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