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Carolyn Fisher (1968-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1968; raised in Alberta, Canada; husband's name, Steve.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Knopf Publishing, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.


Freelance illustrator; Alberta College of Art and Design, instructor in illustration; previously worked in illustration in New York, NY.


(And illustrator) A Twisted Tale, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.


Lynn Manuel, Fifty-five Grandmas and a Llama, Gibbs Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1997.

Erica Orloff and Alexa Milo, The Best Friends' Handbook: The Totally Cool One-of-a-Kind Book about You and Your Best Friend, Walker (New York, NY), 2002.

John Coy, Two Old Potatoes and Me, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.


Author and illustrator Carolyn Fisher's first self-illustrated book, A Twisted Tale, was released in 2002. Bailey Tarbell lives with her Ma and Pa on a farm with lots of animals, including a cat, a dog, a pig, a cow, a duck, and three chickens. When a tornado strikes the farm, the animals don't appear to be physically injured, but something is clearly wrong nonetheless. The cow starts acting like a chicken, even sitting on nests and trying to fly, while the pig, seemingly thinking that it is a duck, goes for a swim in the pond, and the duck starts chewing its cud. Bailey and her Ma and Pa try everything that they can think of to set the animals right. They ask the vet, who has no idea what to do. They try role-playing, sitting on a nest and chewing on bones to encourage the chickens and dog to do the same, but still, no luck. They take the mixed-up animals to a psychologist, who puts the cow on his couch and attempts to psychoanalyze it, without success. Finally they take the animals to a carnival, where a spin on the Twister ride returns the animals to their former selves … although Bailey does not come off so well.

The story of mixed-up animals has been done before, several reviewers noted, but as a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote, "Fisher punches up a well-worn plot with vivid language and swirling modernist artwork." The tornado "howled like a prom queen steppin' on a cow patty" in Fisher's telling, and even the "striking type in varying colors, shapes, and sizes" in which the text is written "is a distinct part of the artwork and is well integrated with the illustrations," according to School Library Journal reviewer Maryann H. Owen. For example, one spread that includes the word "farm" shows plants growing out of the "F," while the letter "R" in "farm" is actually a drawing of plowed fields. Fisher's illustrations are also full of cultural references for sophisticated young readers and their parents: Ma and Pa bear a striking resemblance to the man and woman featured in Grant Wood's famous painting American Gothic, while the psychiatrist who attempts to hypnotize the animals looks suspiciously like the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. These "inventive, vivid paintings amplify the story's silliness," maintained a Publishers Weekly contributor, who concluded that the book "will entertain children of all ages."

Fisher has also provided illustrations for books by several other authors, including Lynn Manuel and John Coy. For Coy's Two Old Potatoes and Me, a tale of a biracial daughter, her divorced, African-American father, and the garden they plant, Fisher again hand-letters the text and integrates the letters into the pictures, as she does in A Twisted Tale. Her mixed-media illustrations for Two Old Potatoes and Me are also notable, according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, for their "painless and message-free representation of a biracial family."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Fisher, Carolyn, A Twisted Tale, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.


Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of A Twisted Tale, p. 568; June 1, 2003, review of Two Old Potatoes and Me, p. 801.

Language Arts, July, 2003, Junko Yokota and Mingshui Cai, review of Two Old Potatoes and Me, p. 475.

Publishers Weekly, April 8, 2002, review of A Twisted Tale, p. 227.

School Library Journal, June, 2002, Maryann H. Owen, review of A Twisted Tale, p. 94.


Book Rapport Web site, http://www.bookrapport.com/ (September 16, 2004), "Carolyn Fisher."

Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts Web site, http://www.trianglegallery.com/ (May 31, 2004), "Worth a Thousand Words: Contemporary Alberta Illustrators."

WalkerYoungReaders.com, http://www.walkeryoungreaders.com/ (May 31, 2004), "Carolyn Fisher."*

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