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Leslie (A.) McGuirk (1960-) Biography

Personal, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1960, in Albany, NY; Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., 1982.


Designer and author. McGuirk's Quirks Design Co., Vero Beach, FL, founder and owner, 1985—; Takashimaya Co. (department store), Tokyo, Japan, designer and creator of "World of Leslie McGuirk" label, 1993—. Creator of "The Quest for Inspiration" workshop. Has also worked as a greeting card illustrator, telemarketer, and global research volunteer for Earthwatch.



Tucker Flips!, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.

Tucker over the Top, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.

Tucker off His Rocker, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.

Snail Boy, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.


How Many? Too Many!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

It's Only Me!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Say Cheese, Please!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Here It Is!, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.


The "Tucker" books have been adapted as an animated television series in the United Kingdom by Telemagination.

Work in Progress

Tucker Carried Away; a book about the "Quest for Inspiration" workshops.


Leslie McGuirk "is one of those overnight 'sensations' who, in reality, took years of hard work to make her mark," according to Dawn Bailey Johnston in Southern

Leslie McGuirk

Lady. McGuirk founded the design studio of McGuirk's Quirks, and her earth-friendly images have created a marketing phenomenon in Japan, where she is a wellknown artist. McGuirk has also created a stir in the world of publishing with her popular "Tucker" series about an adventurous West Highland white terrier.

McGuirk began her career as an artist by selling handmade greeting cards. She eventually placed her animal designs on refrigerator magnets and T-shirts, and her clothing was sold in such upscale shops as Bonwit Teller in New York and Galleries Lafayette in Paris. In 1991 Glamour magazine published an article about her work, which drew the attention of a Japanese company, Takashimaya. According to Johnston, "There are now entire sections of Japanese department stores dedicated to The World of Leslie McGuirk." Among the many products featuring McGuirk's designs are carpets, aprons, wallpaper, mouse pads, and books.

The "Tucker" series was inspired by one of McGuirk's pet dogs. Tucker Flips!, the first book in the series, introduces the playful pup and his two brothers. Tucker emerges as the daring one: he dives off the couch, digs tunnels, and even hops on a skateboard. When Tucker is tossed into the air during a wild winter sled ride, he flips his way to safety. "Short, direct statements move the tale along at a steady clip," wrote Martha Topol in School Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly contributor stated that McGuirk "writes concise sentences and skillfully pares down her illustrations to a few careful lines and opaque colors," and Michael Cart in Booklist noted that McGuirk's art will "remind grown-ups of a cheerful combination of Sandra Boynton and M. B. Goffstein." In her review of Tucker off His Rocker and Tucker over the Top, School Library Journal contributor DeAnn Tabuchi remarked that the terrier "is an appealing character and these small-format books will undoubtedly find an audience."

A talking, pony-sized snail in search of a protector is the subject of the 2003 work Snail Boy. The "Gigantic Exotic Gastropod" known as Snail worries that his large body makes him a target for snail hunters, so he decides to find a human who can provide a safe home. Snail spots a young boy in the park, and by giving the boy a ride and sheltering him from the rain, Snail wins the child's heart. "This plot goes boldly forth to the very edges of the whimsical universe," wrote Todd Morning in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that "McGuirk illustrates this tongue-in-cheek hookup in minimalist cartoon style," and a Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that the author "relies on understatement to tell this absurdist tale." Rosalyn Pierini in School Library Journal, commenting on the relationship between Snail and his new owner, stated, "The true charm of the story lies in the jovial banter between the two, resulting in what appears to be a lasting partnership."

A giant, talking snail sets out to find just the right owner to save him from becoming a circus act or being captured by snail hunters in McGuirk's Snail Boy.

McGuirk told SATA: "My private label line, called The World of Leslie McGuirk, was developed in conjunction with my client Takashimaya, a high-end department store. All of my designs have animal and environmental themes, which were inspired by my years of working as a global research volunteer for Earthwatch. I have taught language to dolphins in Hawaii, measured the effects of global warming in Trinidad and Tobago, and helped preserve a bird sanctuary in Mallorca, Spain. More than 800 products featuring natured-based designs have been selling in both the United States and Japan.

"In addition to writing and illustrating, I also teach a class called the 'Quest for Inspiration.' The class gives people an unusual perspective on the process of having a creative life, even if you are not an artist or writer.

"I believe we all need to rekindle our personal creativity. If we can relearn how to wake up our sensory selves, our lives will be richer and more rewarding."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, January 1, 2000, Michael Cart, review of Tucker Flips!, p. 936; September 1, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Snail Boy, p. 129.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of Snail Boy, p. 808.

Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1999, review of Tucker Flips!, p. 79; January 22, 2001, "All Aboard," p. 325; May 19, 2003, review of Snail Boy, p. 73.

School Library Journal, December, 1999, Martha Topol, review of Tucker Flips!, p. 104; November, 2000, DeAnn Tabuchi, review of Tucker off His Rocker and Tucker over the Top, p. 126; September, 2003, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Snail Boy, p. 184.

Southern Lady, spring, 2002, Dawn Bailey Johnston, "The Quirky World of Leslie McGuirk," pp. 38-39.


Leslie McGuirk's Homepage, http://www.lesliemcguirk.com/ (March 8, 2004).

Additional topics

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