Kate (A.) Kiesler (1971-) Biography
Personal, Career, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1971, in Keene, NH; Education: Rhode Island School of Design, B.F.A., 1993. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, rock climbing, gardening.
Illustrator. Studio assistant to illustrator Barry Moser, North Hatfield, MA, 1993-94.
(Collector) Fishing for a Dream: Ocean Lullabies and Night Verses, Clarion (New York, NY), 1999.
(Collector) Wings on the Wind: Bird Poems, Clarion (New York, NY), 2002.
Jim Murphy, Into the Deep Forest: With Henry David Thoreau (for young adults), Clarion (New York, NY), 1995.
Marc McCutcheon, Grandfather's Christmas Camp (picture book), Clarion (New York, NY), 1995.
Andrew Clements, Temple Cat (picture book), Clarion (New York, NY), 1996.
Andrew Clements, Bright Christmas: An Angel Remembers (picture book), Clarion (New York, NY), 1996.
Kristine George, The Great Frog Race (collection of poems), Clarion (New York, NY), 1997.
Russell Freedman, Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille (for young adults), Clarion (New York, NY), 1997.
Ralph Fletcher, Twilight Comes Twice (picture book), Clarion (New York, NY), 1997.
Kristine George, Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, Clarion (New York, NY), 1998.
Gretel Ehrlich, A Blizzard Year: Timmy's Almanac of the Seasons, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1999.
Ruth Horowitz, Crab Moon, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
Christine Loomis, Across America, I Love You, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.
Sally Derby, Taiko on a Windy Night, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2001.
Kristine George, Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems, Clarion (New York, NY), 2001.
Nathaniel Tripp, Snow Comes to the Farm, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Ralph J. Fletcher, Hello, Harvest Moon, Clarion (New York, NY), 2003.
Michael Lind, Bluebonnet Girl, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Children's book illustrator Kate Kiesler has loved painting ever since she was a child, and since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design she has been illustrating full-time. In addition to her artwork for books like Hello, Harvest Moon by Ralph J. Fletcher and a series of well-received poetry anthologies by Kristine George, Kiesler has also successfully compiled and self-illustrated two books of her own, Fishing for a Dream: Ocean Lullabies and Night Verses and Wings on the Wind: Bird Poems. Both are anthologies composed of selected poems or verses which pertain to a specific chosen theme.
Into the Deep Forest, by Jim Murphy, was Keisler's first published book. Noting that the story required that she paint a great deal of landscapes, the illustrator once told SATA that "it allowed me to express the part of me that always wanted to be a painter." Creating illustrations depicting deep forests, rugged mountains, and fast-moving rivers "allowed me to make a comfortable transition into picture books," Keisler added. "More importantly, the book helped me to discover that illustration could be an exciting avenue of expression."
Wings on the Wind: Bird Poems combines the works of well-known children's authors such as Carl Sandburg and Robert Louis Stevenson with those of some not as well known in a collection of poems with bird themes. Complimenting the poems, Kiesler creates impressionist oil paintings that depict the children and birds being discussed in the accompanying text. Both the text and illustrations are meant to inspire children to observe and interact with nature: the paintings depict numerous varieties of birds, showing them engaged in a variety of activities. In addition to being a "beautifully designed and illustrated anthology" according to a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, Wings on the Wind was one of the only collections of bird poems in print at its time of publication. Reviewing the book for School Library Journal, Susan Scheps dubbed Kiesler's anthology "a fine collection."
Kiesler once told SATA: "Illustrating books was a very natural direction for me. I grew up in an environment where I was surrounded by creativity (my mother is a craftsperson and always had some project going—usually they took over the dining room table), and where reading and books were highly regarded. For entertainment (and I suppose to keep me out from under her feet), my mother often set me up with my own project or sent me off with a book. Drawing soon became second nature to me and books became my companions. I read piles of them. Picture books were part of a ritual for me as a child and became a passion for me as an adult. Pictures and words. There was magic there. I think, originally, I wanted to be a fine artist—paint pictures to hang on the walls. But my style of drawing and painting is really more suited for children's books—which have become a reliable source of income and inspiration.
"After graduating from school I was lucky enough to work for Barry Moser for a year as his studio assistant. It was there that I really became familiar with the process of making books. It was there that I learned to design—not just to illustrate—and I think that will always be a huge influence on my work.
"To be able to enhance a child's world, to bring fairies and trolls to life, to add interest and to spark imagination, to educate with pictures is an incredible challenge—one that somehow gets me to my desk every morning with a sense of purpose. There are days that I think that I might have scratched that surface. There are also days that I am reminded how far I have to go. Those days are sometimes better spent in the woods or reading with a cup of tea. All those experiences somehow edge themselves back into the work. And make it better. And perhaps allow me to feel as though I have scratched the surface again. And then, I catch myself wide-eyed at how satisfying illustrating can be."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 1, 1998, Helen Rosenberg, review of Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems, p. 112; December 15, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Fishing for a Dream: Ocean Lullabies and Night Verses, p. 785.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2002, review of Wings on the Wind: Bird Poems, p. 260.
Publishers Weekly, September 14, 1998, p. 68; September 20, 1999, review of Fishing for a Dream, p. 86; March 12, 2001, review of Toasting Marshmallows, p. 90; September 15, 2003, review of Hello, Harvest Moon, p. 63.
School Library Journal, October, 1997, p. 95; December, 1999, Robin L. Gibson, review of Fishing for a Dream, p. 121; April, 2002, Susan Scheps, review of Wings on the Wind, p. 136; September, 2003, Shawn Brommer, review of Hello, Harvest Moon, p. 178.*