Jane Cabrera (1968-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1968, in Berkhamsted, England; Education: Watford College of Art, higher national diploma (in graphic design; with distinction). Politics: "Green." Hobbies and other interests: Environmental activism, travel, nature crafts, mural painting, cooking, country walks, and socializing with friends.
Office—The Drawing Room, Panther House, 38 Mount Pleasant, London WCIX 40P, England.
Apollo Arts and Antiques (magazine), art director, 1989-91; freelance graphic designer for clients, including British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Children's Books, Reed Children's Books, Dorling Kindersley, HarperCollins, Tiger Print (design group), and HIT Entertainment PLC, 1991-98; illustrator, 1997—. Speaker on children's book design and illustration at schools in England.
Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth.
SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FICTION FOR CHILDREN
Cat's Colors, Dial (New York, NY), 1997.
Dog's Day, Reed (London, England), 1998, Orchard Books (New York), 2000.
Panda Big and Panda Small, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1998.
Rory and the Lion, DK Publishing (New York, NY), 1999.
Over in the Meadow, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2000.
Old Mother Hubbard, Holiday House (New York), 2001.
Bear's Good Night, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
Monkey's Play Time, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
The Lonesome Polar Bear, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
ILLUSTRATOR; FICTION FOR CHILDREN
Joyce Dunbar, Eggday, David & Charles (London, England), 1999.
Sally Crabtree and Roberta Mathieson, My Sister's Hair, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Reader's Digest Complete Drawing Course, David & Charles (London, England), 2003.
Contributor of illustrations to travel magazine.
Environmentally conscious children's book author and illustrator Jane Cabrera left behind a career in graphic design to pursue her love of writing and illustration. At age twenty-nine she was credited by Books magazine with "breaking the mould" when it comes to illustrating picture books for preschoolers. Not only has she illustrated books like Eggday by Joyce Dunbar, but she has written and self-illustrated many of her own children's books, including Cat's Colors, The Lonesome Polar Bear, and an updated version of the childhood classic Over in the Meadow. Praising Cabrera's easy-to read story about a small polar bear cub looking for a new friend, School Library Journal contributor Genevieve Gallagher noted that The Lonesome Polar Bear is a "charming picture book" enhanced by colorful illustrations full of "depth and texture."
Animals figure prominently in many of Cabrera's books, and they lead children into learning. Cat's Colors finds a finicky feline perusing ten different colors and deciding which one is its favorite; in this brightly colored book children not only count along with the likeable kitten, but also learn color names. Cabrera's Over in the Meadow similarly helps children by presenting finger-paint-style illustrations of bunnies, goldfish, and turtles clustered together for counting. The last two pages provide a chance for learning to be reinforced as readers locate and count the correct groups of animals as they are lined up. Cabrera's large, clear illustrations for Over in the Meadow depict an open field bathed in warm sunlight, and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated that her fresh variation on the popular nursery rhyme format "offers an appealing and energetic landscape of boldly applied colors." In School Library Journal Jean Gaffney commented that the "movement and energy conveyed in her illustrations enhance the rhyme, and listeners may be inspired to act out the animals or chime in."
Eggday provides readers with a useful lesson about animals and competition, as main character Dora the duck declares the following day to be Eggday: All barnyard animals will compete to see who can lay the best egg. However, after giving it a sincere try, with a series of effortful oinks, neighs, and bleats, many of the animals quickly realize that they do not have the ability to lay an egg. Finally, Hetty the hen steps in to put an end to these futile efforts, and explains that not every animal is capable of laying eggs, and gives each of the animals an egg to decorate instead. Excited about their creations, they race back to show Dora what they have done, but are instead greeted with a wonderful surprise. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly complimented Cabrera's "eye-catching artwork" with its ability to cover the pages from top to bottom with "vibrant colors that seem infused with the spring sunshine." Ilene Cooper agreed in Booklist, noting that Cabrera's style artfully resembles children's finger paints and the "bright pictures exude playfulness and good cheer."
Cabrera, who works in a studio in London, continued her writing and illustration work, and has many projects underway. She once told SATA: "My main passion is the environment. I am very concerned for the future of our planet and that of the children on it. I'm involved in a lot of green groups and … feel it's time to put people and nature before profits, before it's too late. My husband and I try to live a low-impact lifestyle as much as it's possible within a big city.
"My ambition is to produce children's environmental books. Not only would the stories be environmental, but the production would be too—from recycled/sustainable paper, to non-toxic inks, and the production workers would be treated ethically.
"My other hobbies include mural painting for toddlers' bedrooms, life drawing, long country walks, and cooking and eating. (I'm a vegetarian of fourteen years and a big fan of organic food.) I also enjoy reading; collecting children's books; making mobiles, picture frames, blinds, etc., from collected nature finds (driftwood, leaves, and even broken pottery and nineteenth-century clay pipes from the River Thames); but my main hobby is socializing with my friends!"
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 1, 1999, Ilene Cooper, review of Eggday, p. 1420; February 1, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Over in the Meadow, p. 1026, and Ilene Cooper, review of Dog's Day, p. 1028; September 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of Old Mother Hubbard, p. 111.
Books, June, 1997, review of Cat's Colors, p. 21.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of Cat's Colors, pp. 388-389.
Children's Book Review, August, 1997, p. 158.
Horn Book, May 1999, review of Eggday, p. 313.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1997, p. 138.
Publishers Weekly, April 21, 1997, review of Cat's Colors, p. 70; February 22, 1999, review of Eggday, p. 93; January 31, 2000, review of Over in the Meadow, p. 105; March 20, 2000, review of Top Dog, p. 94; June 3, 2002, p. 91.
School Librarian, August, 1997, p. 130.
School Library Journal, May, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of Cat's Colors, p. 93; December, 1999, Janet M. Bair, review of Rory and the Lion, p. 88; March, 2000, Linda Ludke, review of Dog's Day, p. 189; April, 2000, Jean Gaffney, review of Over in the Meadow, p. 92; January, 2002, Linda M. Kenton, review of Old Mother Hubbard, p. 116; February, 2002, Jane Marino, review of My Sister's Hair, p. 97; January, 2004, Genevieve Gallagher, review of The Lonesome Polar Bear, p. 95.*
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