Lisa Campbell Ernst (1957-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1957, in Bartlesville, OK; Education: University of Oklahoma, B.F.A., 1978. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, drawing, gardening.
Office—207 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO 64111. Agent—c/o Cheryl Herman, Author Promotions, Simon & Schuster Children's Marketing, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
Ogilvy & Mather (advertising agency), New York, NY, assistant art director, 1978; writer, illustrator, and book designer, 1978—.
Mirror Magic included in American Institute of Graphic Arts Book Show, 1981; Children's Books of the Year, Child Study Association of America, 1986, for A Colorful Adventure of the Bee and Up to Ten and down Again; Missouri Show-Me Readers Award, 1999, for Duke, the Dairy Delight Dog; Bill Martin, Jr., Picture Book Award, 2000, for Stella Louella's Runaway Book; Bear's Day and Cat's Play named Parenting Best Books of the Year, 2000; Edgar Wolfe Literary Award, Friends of the Library in Kansas City, Kansas, 2001.
FOR CHILDREN; SELF-ILLUSTRATED
Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1983.
The Prize Pig Surprise, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1984.
Up to Ten and down Again, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1986.
Hamilton's Art Show, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1986.
(With husband, Lee Ernst) A Colorful Adventure of the Bee, Who Left Home One Monday Morning and What He Found along the Way, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1986.
The Rescue of Aunt Pansy, Viking Kestrel (New York, NY), 1987.
Nattie Parsons' Good-Luck Lamb, Viking Kestrel (New York, NY), 1988.
When Bluebell Sang, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1989.
(With husband, Lee Ernst) The Tangram Magician, Abrams (New York, NY), 1990.
Ginger Jumps, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1990.
Miss Penny and Mr. Grubbs, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1991.
Walter's Tail, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1992.
Zinnia and Dot, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.
Squirrel Park, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1993.
The Luckiest Kid on the Planet, Bradbury (New York, NY), 1994.
Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Duke, the Dairy Delight Dog, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
The Letters Are Lost!, Viking (New York, NY), 1996. Bubba and Trixie, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
Bear's Day, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Cat's Play, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Goldilocks Returns, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
Stella Louella's Runaway Book, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.
The Three Spinning Fairies: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Spring, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Sylvia Jean, the Drama Queen, Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Wake up, It's Spring!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
The Turn-around Upside-down Alphabet Book, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
This Is the Van That Dad Cleaned, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Alice Siegel and Margo McLoone, It's a Girl's Game, Too, Holt (New York, NY), 1980.
Burton Marks and Rita Marks, Kites for Kids, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1980.
Louise Murphy, My Garden: A Journal for Gardening around the Year, Scribner (New York, NY), 1980.
Seymour Simon, Mirror Magic, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1980.
David Cleveland, The Frog on Robert's Head, Coward (New York, NY), 1981.
Marks and Marks, The Spook Book, Lothrop (New York, NY), 1981.
Charles L. Blood, American Indian Games and Crafts, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1981.
Harriet Ziefert, Dress Little Bunny, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1986.
Harriet Ziefert, Play with Little Bunny, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1986.
Harriet Ziefert, Good Morning, Sun!, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Breakfast Time!, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Let's Get Dressed, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Bye-Bye, Daddy!, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Count with Little Bunny, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Feed Little Bunny, Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Mary DeBall Kwitz, Gumshoe Goose, Private Eye, Dial (New York, NY), 1988.
Harriet Ziefert, Little Bunny's Melon Patch, Puffin (New York, NY), 1990.
Harriet Ziefert, Little Bunny's Noisy Friends, Puffin (New York, NY), 1990.
Ruth Young, Who Says Moo?, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.
Kate Lied, Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 1997.
Alex Moran, Come Here Tiger!, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Patricia Hubbel, Sea, Sand, Me!, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
Alex Moran, Boots for Beth, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Claire Daniel, The Chick That Wouldn't Hatch, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.
Angela Shelf Medearis, Lucy's Quiet Book, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Recognized both for her own works and for the books she has illustrated for other authors, Lisa Campbell Ernst creates picture and concept books for younger readers, among them Duke, the Dairy Delight Dog and the exuberant Wake up, It's Spring! Consistently lauded for her skill as an artist and graphic designer, Ernst has been praised as the creator of delightful stories that feature engaging characters and clever concepts. Born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1957, Ernst attended the University of Oklahoma, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1978. Ernst began her career as an assistant art director in a New York City advertising firm, which provided her with a background in design that proved invaluable when she began to illustrate professionally shortly thereafter.
Providing pictures for the works of such authors as Harriet Ziefert and Seymour Simon brought Ernst success as an illustrator and opened the way for the publication of her first self-illustrated picture book, Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, in 1983. Set around the turn of the twentieth century, this book presents a comic inversion of the equal-rights argument as farmer Sam Johnson discovers he has a talent for quilting. When Sam's wife will not let him join the Women's Quilting Club, Sam organizes a quilting club for men. Through a challenge at the county fair, both clubs eventually cooperate and produce a stunning quilt that combines designs from each camp. Noting the quaint and nostalgic charm of Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, a Publishers Weekly reviewer called Ernst "an original and beguiling author," and School Library Jour-sdnal contributor Elizabeth Simmons dubbed the book "a very special addition to the growing list of non-sexist books for children."
Many of Ernst's picture books feature charming animals and teach simple but significant lessons to younger readers. In The Rescue of Aunt Pansy, a picture book described as "fun for all" by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, Joanne the mouse mistakenly believes that Russell the cat has captured Joanne's aunt when in fact the cat is playing with a toy mouse. Called "an amusing, lighthearted tale" by School Library Journal contributor Phyllis G. Sidorsky, When Bluebell Sang follows the rise to stardom of Bluebell, a singing cow. Farmer Swenson first notices Bluebell's vocal talent, but Big Eddie, a greedy talent agent, exploits both farmer and cow by taking them on a world tour. And a playful circus dog named Ginger seeks nothing more than the love of a little girl in Ginger Jumps. Praising the last title, Ilene Cooper observed in Booklist: "Ernst's quiet wit works well with the story's strong message—some-times you have to swallow scared feelings if it means finding love."
In addition to creating likeable animal characters, Ernst features humans as protagonists in several of her self-illustrated, lesson-filled tales. In Miss Penny and Mr. Grubbs an annual competition escalates into sabotage as Mr. Grubbs releases hungry rabbits into Miss Penny's prize-winning vegetable garden. When the county fair comes around, the irrepressible Miss Penny wins—for the forty-ninth year in a row—by entering some well-fed rabbits rather than vegetables. Carolyn Noah, reviewing the work for School Library Journal, commented that "the book's buoyancy and infectious visual humor make Miss Penny not only a county-fair winner, but a story time and read-alone prize as well."
The title character of The Luckiest Kid on the Planet, "Lucky" Morgenstern, has amazing good fortune until he learns that his real name, given to him by his grandfather, is actually Herbert. When Lucky sees his winning streak come to an abrupt end after his grandfather becomes ill, he starts to worry, but grandfather eventually recovers and the boy's pessimism fades. A Publishers Weekly critic remarked of the book that "Ernst's sage commentary on the correlation between attitude and experience comes delightfully gift-wrapped, with well-timed comic writing and rounded, pastel cartoons glistening with good humor."
Stella Louella's Runaway Book and Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show are two rather different adventures that also feature human characters: this time, young girls. The first book centers on an experience familiar to most readers: the search for a missing library book. Stella Louella is dismayed to find that her book has been enjoyed and passed on by her brother to the postman, a police officer, and many others. To the girl's relief, however, the book eventually makes its way back into the hands of the librarian. Deborah Stevenson wrote in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that Ernst's "diverting sequence" of events includes hints that will amuse young readers, while a Kirkus Reviews critic added that the author's illustrations "stage the action beautifully, advancing the text and supplying plenty of funny details." In Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show Ernst's protagonist has a rather more surprising task at hand: wrangling hamsters. Cowgirl wannabe Hannah lives in the city, where she rides her pony in a park and practices roping on her other pets. When she finally visits Uncle Coot's ranch out in the country, Hannah's cowgirl skills prove to be exceptional. Described by Susan Dove Lempke in Horn Book as a "rootin'-tootin' picture book about living out your dream," Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show contains what Andrea Tarr, writing for School Library Journal, described as a "subtle sense of irony" and "irresistible" humor.
Animal and human characters team up in Ernst's picture book Squirrel Park. Young Stuart's father, an architect, allows his son to design a new park for the city. However, the man insists that the plan should be organized geometrically, with only straight paths, and he provides a ruler and T-square to expedite the accomplishment of this task. Such a layout, Stuart realizes, will put a great oak tree centered in the middle of the park site in jeopardy. So, with the help of his pet squirrel Chuck, who gnaws the T-square into a more favorable shape, Stuart creates a curvy scheme with paths that meander gently around the tree. As a Kirkus Reviews critic concluded, Ernst, with her "usual wit and panache … vigorous pen … and cheerfully assertive colors," achieves still another picture book success with Squirrel Park.
In addition to penning original tales, Ernst had brought her quirky humor to bear on several traditional tales. Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale is set in contemporary times, and presents readers with a bicycle-riding Red Riding Hood, a robust grandma who does not need any saving at all, and an unpleasantly surprised wolf. When the wolf whispers, "M-m-my, what big eyes you have, Grandma," Red's no-nonsense Granny promptly puts the frightened wolf to work in her muffin factory, and ends her story with a surprising plot twist. Reviewing Little Red Riding Hood for Horn Book, Margaret A. Bush noted: "As in her earlier books, Ernst demonstrates her mastery over the picture-book form, with inventive plot and enjoyable characters succinctly drawn in the narrative and beautifully extended in the illustrations."
Another 'fractured fairytale' by Ernst is Goldilocks Returns. All grown up, Goldilocks runs a home-security business, and is still riddled with guilt over the trouble she made for the three bears decades ago, when she was a girl. Despite the guilt, however, Goldilocks has not changed all that much, and she once again winds up trespassing while the bears are cooling their porridge, this time to improve their diet, redecorate their house, and otherwise make a mess of things. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found Ernst "at her wittiest when depicting the mild-mannered bears" and remarked on the "satirical edge" of her pastel color scheme. Writing for Booklist, Ilene Cooper judged that "The text is forced in places, but there's plenty of humor in Ernst's rollicking art."
A contemporary sensibility also transforms The Three Spinning Fairies: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm. This story tells of Zelda, the lazy daughter of the royal baker, who is found whining by the queen. Her mother tries to protect her by saying that Zelda was actually begging to spin string because she loved the work so much. The queen is impressed and pronounces that the girl can wed the prince if she can spin three rooms full of flax. Only the intervention of three unusual fairies, Anita, Benita, and Bob, can make this happen. However, Zelda gets her due in a plot twist added by Ernst: her new mother-in-law soon decides that she should take over her mother's bakery and all the hard work it entails. Booklist reviewer Susan Dove Lempke enjoyed the book's "fresh, zany feel," which she credited to both the art work and modern language. A Kirkus Reviews writer noted that the illustrations "invest each character with great personality" and concluded that the "general silliness keeps didacticism from the story."
Ernst's concept book Up to Ten and down Again features a lone duck swimming in a pond who observes a number of boys, girls, dogs, cars, and clouds. School Library Journal contributor Susan Scheps called the work "a counting book extraordinaire" while a Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer added that the book "fulfills almost every requirement for a teaching tool."
Teaching children about colors is the subject of A Colorful Adventure of the Bee, Who Left Home One Monday Morning and What He Found Along the Way. Simple, yet handsomely designed, this concept book, illustrated by Ernst's husband Lee Ernst, details the various colors encountered by an adventurous insect. Writing in School Library Journal, Luann Toth claimed that preschoolers "will ask for it time and time again." Another concept book by Ernst is The Letters Are Lost! While the book begins with all the letters "neat and tidy" in a wooden box, each letter departs on an alphabetical adventure in what Horn Book contributor Margaret A. Bush dubbed "a quite traditional alphabet book beautifully rendered." A Kirkus Reviews critic called The Letters Are Lost! "invaluable" as a teaching tool and a "worth adding even to the most extensive collections of alphabet books."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 15, 1990, Ilene Cooper, review of Ginger Jumps, p. 1799; March 1, 1992, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Walter's Tail, p. 1286; July, 1995, Ilene Cooper, review of Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale, p. 1881; April 1, 2000, Ilene Cooper, review of Goldilocks Returns, p. 1468; January 1, 2002, Susan Dove Lemke, review of The Three Spinning Fairies, p. 861.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 1990, p. 263; October, 1997, p. 50; December, 1998, Deborah Stevenson, review of Stella Louella's Runaway Book, p. 129; January 1, 2004, Karin Snelson, review of Wake up, It's Spring, p. 874.
Horn Book, January-February, 1996, Margaret A. Bush, review of Little Red Riding Hood: A Newfangled Prairie Tale, pp. 80-81; March-April, 1996, Margaret A. Bush, review of The Letters Are Lost!, p. 187; July-August, 2003, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show, p. 441.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1988, p. 534; March 15, 1993, review of Squirrel Park, p. 370; December 15, 1995, review of The Letters Are Lost!, p. 769; July 1, 1998, review of Stella Louella's Runaway Book, p. 966; January 1, 2002, review of The Three Spinning Fairies, p. 45; January 15, 2004, review of Wake up, It's Spring, p. 82.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 1983, Karla Kuskin, review of Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, August 12, 1983, review of Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, p. 67; September 21, 1984, review of The Prize Pig Surprise, p. 96; June 12, 1987, review of The Rescue of Aunt Pansy, p. 83; April 28, 1989, review of When Bluebell Sang, p. 76; August 15, 1994, review of The Luckiest Kid on the Planet, p. 94; June 12, 2000, review of Goldilocks Returns, p. 72; February 9, 2003, review of Wake up, It's Spring!, p. 80.
School Library Journal, December, 1983, Elizabeth Simmons, review of Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt, p. 54; November, 1986, Luann Toth, review of A Colorful Adventure of the Bee, Who Left Home One Monday Morning and What He Found Along the Way, pp. 75-76; August, 1986, Susan Scheps, review of Up to Ten and Down Again, p. 80; April, 1989, Phyllis G. Sidorsky, review of When Bluebell Sang, p. 82; June, 1991, Carolyn Noah, review of Miss Penny and Mr. Grubbs, p. 76; July, 1992, Jane Marino, review of Zinnia and Dot, p. 58; July, 2003, Andrea Tarr, review of Hannah Mae O'Hannigan's Wild West Show, p. 95; February, 2004, Judith Constantinides, review of Wake up, It's Spring!, p. 112.
Kansas City Kansas Public Library Web site, http://www.kckpl.lib.ks.us/ (July 24, 2002), "Edgar Wolfe Award Winner Lisa Campbell Ernst."
Missouri Center for the Book Web site, http://authors.missouri.org/ (June 26, 2002), "Lisa Campbell Ernst.*"
- Kathleen A. Ernst (1959–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights
- James W. Ermatinger (1959–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings
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