What's Coming for Christmas?
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
List Price: $15.99*
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You can see it in the way the snowman's eyes sparkle. Hear it in the voices of carolers echoing in the streets, and in the sounds of children trimming the tree. You can feel it in the warm fire dancing in the hearth. Meanwhile, the mother hen hushes her chicks, the pigs' little tails curl in excitement, and the sheep nod knowingly as all wait in eager anticipation for a joyous Christmas surprise.
With lush illustrations as comforting as a Yule-time fire, this tender Christmas lullaby about cherished traditions and welcome surprises is sure to become an annual favorite.
What can I say about me? That I was born in 1958 in a German town called Wuppertal and that I have two sisters. That I didn't like to go to school because I thought it was terribly boring and I preferred riding my bicycle in the woods, and drawing the landscapes I encountered.
I made drawing after drawing in the forest and in Bonn, the city where I lived, carrying with me on my bike a wooden case with all my art supplies inside: pens, inks, and watercolors, as well as a very small folding chair, so small that every time I got up after sitting on it for an hour my legs had completely fallen asleep, and I stumbled like an idiot, unless there was a fence to grab on to!
Even on vacations with my parents, I passed my time filling sketchbooks and sheets of paper with drawings and watercolors. For me it has always been the most natural thing to do. Almost all children draw, and, encouraged by my parents, I just never stopped.
The same year I finished school, I had my first solo exhibition in a gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. I had written a letter to an Austrian draftsman whose drawings I admired, Paul Flora, and he answered me with an incredibly friendly letter, along with a set of drawing pens, and even a drawing "just for demonstration." He showed my watercolors to his Swiss editor and gallery owner, and I received a letter just as my family was leaving on vacation, asking if I had ever exhibited, and if I would like to do so. I remember waiting hours for the right moment to show my parents the letter. I was so proud.
Soon after finishing school, I went to live in Italy, in Rome. I started drawing and painting more seriously there, and began showing my paintings. I met Kate Banks, who had already published several books she had written. I had always loved the idea of doing illustrations for children's books, and I had written a very simple story of my own, doing new versions of illustrations over and over for the same text. I had showed this at the children's book fair in Bologna, Italy, to a French publisher who seemed to like my illustrations. The story was set in the jungle, and when Kate saw the illustrations, she told me she had written a text that was also set in the jungle, and she asked me if I wouldn't like to try to do some illustrations for her story, which was called "Baboon".
Since then we have created three picture books together. I really like to have someone to show my illustrations to, someone who asks me things like "Why don't you draw the lizard a little bigger?"
I always find it difficult to judge my own drawings, so each day when my fiancee, Anne, comes home from her work, she looks at what I've done. When she likes my work, I am happy, because her opinion is almost always right.
I always make many versions of the same illustrations and am lucky to have an editor who will call a halt to this, because a book eventually has to be printed. I always have technical problems, I think because I enjoy having them when I start to see how a certain paint works on a certain type of paper, I change them to see how a different combination might work. Thus I am hardly ever content with what I have done, and the moment a book is published I think what I could have done to make it better!
I lived in Rome, with some interruptions, for about twenty years. Last year, I moved to Paris, where I now live with Anne, and too many cats.