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John Clapp - Illustrator
John Clapp is the illustrator of five books for children, including books written by Robin McKinley, Liz Rosenberg, and Bruce Coville. His latest book, Shining by Julius Lester, is a Booksense 76 Pick in 2003 and was recently chosen for inclusion in a show at the Society of Illustrators representing the best illustrated children's picture books of 2003. Since 1990, his work has been recognized and honored several times by the Society of Illustrators.
A graduate of Art Center College of Design, (where he studied with David Shannon and many other wonderful artists), and later, Syracuse University, John now teaches drawing and painting at San Jose State University when he isn't working on his books.
John and his wife Mary live near San Francisco, California.
Shining by Julius Lester (Harcourt)
On Christmas Eve by Liz Rosenberg (Roaring Brook)
The Prince of Butterflies by Bruce Coville (Harcourt)
Right Here On This Spot by Sharon Hart Addy (Houghton Mifflin)
The Stone Fey by Robin McKinley (Harcourt Brace)
Julius Lester - Writer
Julius Lester did not set out to become a writer. "Growing up, I wanted to be a musician," he recalls. "I was not a good writer, and I never dreamed I'd become an award-winning writer." He did become a musician, recording many of his songs on two albums. He produced and hosted a radio show for eight years and a television show for two years. He also pursued photography and wrote a number of books for adults. Then, when his editor asked him to write a children's book, he discovered a whole new direction for his professional life. Altogether, he has written more than 25 books. Besides writing, Lester enjoys teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which he has done for nearly 30 years.
Lester's own family history, as well as the history of African Americans generally, is the inspiration for many of his books. "Sometimes I feel like there are all these spirits of blacks inside me, people who never had the opportunity to tell their stories, and they have chosen me to be their voice."
Julius Lester has lots of advice for young writers: "Read, read, read, read, read…. You learn how to write by reading — reading just everything. My second bit of advice is that you have to know grammar…. The art of writing is how to write a good sentence. My final words of advice are rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite…. The way you write it the first time is seldom the best that it can be."