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Peter H. Reynolds

As a child

Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother, Paul (now his business partner), were born in Canada but moved to a Massachusetts suburb when they were 3 years old. They made their first foray into publishing at the age of 7, when they began producing their own newspapers and comic books on their father’s photocopier. An incessant doodler since childhood, Peter credits his unique brand of humour and his love for the absurd to growing up with “very eccentric British parents” who were fond of watching Monty Python. “It was not a normal house,” he recalls. From his parents he also inherited an appreciation for tea, which he uses both as a beverage and an art medium. In addition, the illustrator brings to the Judy Moody series his sensibility as a “very visual person.” As he notes, “almost every page has a little something,” whether it’s a whimsical spot illustration or a comical, animated spread showing a tiny mealworm careening across a rowdy class room.”

As an adult

The president and creative director of FableVision Studios in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he produces award-winning children’s broadcast programming, educational videos, and multimedia applications, Peter was recently honoured by Verizon as Literacy Leader of the Year (USA). The author-illustrator lives with his family in Dedham, Massachusetts.

As an artist

“I often visit classrooms and ask who loves to draw,” says Peter, illustrator of the acclaimed Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald and author-illustrator of The Dot and Ish, two enchanting picture books that celebrate the creative process. “In kindergarten and first grade, all the hands go up. In second grade, most of the hands go up. In third grade, half the hands are up. By fourth and fifth grade, most of the hands are down, or perhaps pointing to ‘the class artist'. It’s sad to see the artistic, creative energy slowing down, being packed away. I am convinced it’s because children learn early that there are ‘rules’ to follow. But when it comes to expressing yourself, you can invent your own rules. You can change them, you can stretch them, or you can ignore them all and dive headfirst into the unknown. When Peter was approached about illustrating Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody, he jumped at the chance. For one thing, the feisty, independent Judy reminded him of his own daughter, who was eleven years old at the time. “Judy seemed very real to me, compared to fantasy versions of what little girls are like,” he says. What’s more, the story itself – in which a moody Judy struggles to create a Me collage for school – clicked with his own beliefs as an educator about the role a child’s temperament can play in the learning process.

Things you didn't know about Peter H. Reynolds

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