Tom Lichtenheld Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Education: Graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Bicycling, swimming.
Office—910 James St., Geneva, IL 60134.
Art director, illustrator, and author. Fallon, Minneapolis, MN, art director, 1984-2001; freelance art director, 2001—. Has taught advertising classes at Miami Advertising School, Minneapolis, MN, and Chicago, IL.
CLIO Award; Kelly Award finalist; named among Adweek magazine's "Creative All-Stars"; awards from New York Art Directors Club, British Design and Art Direction, Communications Arts Advertising Annual, and One Show; Child magazine best children's book designation, 2003, for What Are You So Grumpy About?
Everything I Know about Pirates: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Bad Guys of the High Seas, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Everything I Know about Monsters: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Creatures of Creepiness, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
What Are You So Grumpy About?, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2003.
Everything I Know about Cars, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Pam Smallcomb, Camp Buccaneer, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Work in Progress
What's with This Room?, for Little, Brown, 2005.
Tom Lichtenheld is an award-winning art director whose clients include Ameritech, BMW, Lee Jeans, Porsche, the Wall Street Journal, Timex, and United Airlines. He is also the author of such critically acclaimed children's books as Everything I Know about Pirates: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Bad Guys of the High Seas and What Are You So Grumpy About?
Lichtenheld's career as an author began in a roundabout way. Asked by his nephew to draw a pirate, Lichtenheld responded with a number of sketches, complete with humorous commentary. "When I initially sat down a lot of things came into my head. The initial picture was actually twelve pages of nonsense and pictures of pirates," he told Debbie Long in the Daily Herald, "but it was a book from the start. It wasn't intended to be, it just kind of happened." It would take another three years of hard work, though, before the book was accepted for publication.
In Everything I Know about Pirates, Lichtenheld offers "a tongue-in-cheek approach to piracy," according to Cyndi Giorgis and Nancy J. Johnson in Reading Teacher. Based on the author's "educated guesses and made-up facts," Everything I Know about Pirates unravels the many mysteries of piratedom, such as why buccaneers wear eye patches and where they get their ears pierced. Critics had praise for both the text and artwork. GraceAnne A. DeCandido noted in Booklist that the "illustrations … are suitably exaggerated and liberally, ah, salted with helpful commentary." Lichtenheld believes that part of the book's appeal stems from the work he originally completed for his nephew. "Some of the drawings are the very same drawings I did then," he told Long. "One reason the book's been successful is the very spontaneous feeling of it—the manic energy that went into it that first day I sat down."
Lichtenheld next published Everything I Know about Monsters: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Creatures of Creepiness, a comical guide to ghouls and fiends. Readers learn about the various types of monsters, including "Under-the-Bed Monsters," "Attic Monsters," and "Closet Monsters," as well as the reason monsters never appear in horror movies: they can't act. Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, reviewing the work in School Library Journal, remarked that "Lichtenheld's cartoons … feature lots of dialogue bubbles and humorous hidden touches."
Pam Smallcomb's Camp Buccaneer gave Lichtenheld another opportunity to sketch pirates. In the work, a young girl's dull vacation turns into an wild adventure after she discovers a summer camp run by real pirates. Some reviewers felt that Lichtenheld's illustrations were the highlight of the tale. According to Todd Morning in Booklist "the humor and appeal come less from the slight story than from Tom Lichtenheld's funny and energetic drawings," and a critic in Kirkus Reviews stated that, "Though the illustrations are amusing and exaggerated, the story is simply flat." Elaine E. Knight in School Library Journal also praised Lichtenheld's art, writing that the illustrator's "Amusing black-and-white cartoons add to the fun."
Lichtenheld's self-illustrated 2003 work What Are You So Grumpy About? catalogs the many situations that cause children to become irritable. In one instance, a child receives underwear for a birthday present, and in another, a youngster must eat "grown-up" cereal for breakfast. "Humor is everywhere," observed Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan in School Library Journal, "and the author clearly knows the types of traumas that can turn a child's mood sour." In Booklist Kay Weisman wrote that "Lichtenheld's big, bold, broadly comic art style … is well suited to the tone of the text and has solid child appeal," and a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Each outlandish, humorously exaggerated illustration, outlined in thick black strokes to emphasize the cartoonish scenarios, make the case for the victims' foul mood."
Lichtenheld sees benefits to his dual career as an art director and author. "They feed off each other very nicely," he told Long in the Daily Herald. "The world of advertising is about imagination and creativity but it has constraints. Doing books has fewer constraints and fewer committee members. And in books I get to call the shots a little bit more myself."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Advertising Age, May 29, 2000, Hillary Chura Cuneo, Dan Lippe, and Laura Petrecca, "Adages," p. 8.
Adweek (Eastern edition), April 10, 2000, "By the Book," p. 52; April 14, 2003, Tim Nudd, "Feeling Grumpy, but Looking Good: Admen/Authors' Latest Pursuits: Crabby Kids and Fashionistas," p. 58.
Adweek (Midwest edition), June 11, 2001, Aaron Baar, "Kids' Stuff," p. 5; January 14, 2002, Aaron Baar, "Car Art," p. 3; October 7, 2002, Aaron Baar, "Monsters Ink," p. 3.
Booklist, May 15, 2000, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Everything I Know about Pirates: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Bad Guys of the High Seas, p. 1746; June 1, 2002, Todd Morning, review of Camp Buccaneer, p. 1725; March 15, 2003, Kay Weisman, review of What Are You So Grumpy About?, pp. 1332-1333.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 8, 2000, Debbie Long, "Geneva Man Has Scoop on Pirates," p. 1; October 22, 2002, Lisa Friedman Miner, "Hey, Kids, Everything You Wanted to Know about Monsters," p. 1.
Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), April 6, 2003, Linda Duval, "Children's Hour," p. LIFE 6.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of Camp Buccaneer, p. 741; April 1, 2003, review of What Are You So Grumpy About?, p. 536.
Photo District News, January, 1992, Joel Newman, "'Real life' and the Windsor Canadian campaign," p. 110.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), September 7, 2003, Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy, "Lesson, Laughter in Picture Books," p. J7.
Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2001, review of Everything I Know about Pirates, p. 36; July 15, 2002, p. 75; March 31, 2003, review of What Are You So Grumpy About?, p. 65.
Reading Teacher, October, 2002, Cyndi Giorgis and Nancy J. Johnson, "Pirates," pp. 201-203.
School Library Journal, June, 2002, Elaine E. Knight, review of Camp Buccaneer, p. 110; September, 2002, Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, review of Everything I Know about Monsters: A Collection of Made-up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Creatures of Creepiness, p. 215; April, 2003, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of What Are You So Grumpy About?, p. 152.
Embracing the Child Web site, http://www.embracingthechild.org/ (March 9, 2004), "Tom Lichtenheld."
Time Warner Bookmark Web site, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (March 9, 2004), "Tom Lichtenheld."
Tom Lichtenheld's Home Page, http://www.tomlichtenheld.com/ (March 8, 2004).
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