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Timothy Basil Ering

As a child

With a Lithuanian father and a French mother, Timothy Basil Ering studied at a design college in Pasadena, California, before indulging his longtime love of the sea as a boatswains mate aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, sailing to points as far afield as Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Sri Lanka and Africa. And since finishing art school – where he discovered influences as far removed as Michelangelo and Dr Seuss – he has worked successfully as an illustrator and author.

As an adult

“I always think of illustration as a form of acting,” says Tim. “Each time I approach a project, I need to become the character I’m depicting. And then I have to choose the appropriate medium that will allow me to speak in that voice.” Tim’s artwork has appeared in books, magazines, theatre sets, private murals, and fine art galleries. The invariably paint-splattered artist lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA.

As an artist

Tim’s first picture book with Walker Books had its beginnings in a silly string of words he thought up to amuse himself as he meandered to favourite fishing spots on Cape Cod. Years later, at an urban garden created by schoolchildren in Pasadena, he began sketching a scarecrow. “I knew at that moment,” he says, “that Frog Belly Rat Bone had found a home.” And so sprung up the tale of a boy who finds strange, specklike treasures, and the unforgettable creature who watches over them while they grow. With its surreal artwork, bursts of colour, and a quirky, handlettered text, Tim’s picture-book début exudes all the whimsy of an inspired imagination. Exploring a more classical style in Newbery Medal-winning The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, the illustrator says, “my mother may have been a mouse in her past life, as I watched her save and help so many mice in our house while I was growing up. The illustrations I’ve done of Despereaux Tilling are, in a way, my tribute to her.”


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