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Claire Nivola's artwork
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Claire A. Nivola was born in New York in 1947. She grew up in the city but spend school vacations on Long Island, the setting for her picture book Elisabeth. As a child, she loved being read to and, the daughter of artists, she started drawing and sculpting at an early age.

Shortly after graduating in History and Literature from Radcliffe College, Claire illustrated her first picture book, The Disobedient Eels and Other Italian Tales. Since then, she has illustrated, as well as authored, a number of other picture books to critical acclaim, including Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai, which won the 2009 Jane Addams Children's Book Award and was a 2009 Africana Book Awards Honor Book for Young Children. Planting the Trees of Kenya was also selected for inclusion in the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Project.

Claire A. Nivola lives in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts


Quotations taken from our interview with Claire A. Nivola:

In all non-fiction cases I have to learn what things look like, whether back in time, or in another part of the world: houses, vegetation, landscape, objects, how people dress, how they wear their hair, everything. My technique is simple: I visit the library and xerox pages from books with photographs or drawings of all the many, many things I need to learn to draw. Then I make myself a sort of visual dictionary that I can refer to as I make my illustrations..


I paint in a room that also serves as a dining room. It has marvelous light and I can spread out my papers on the big table. I use watercolors and gouache, both. I work by daylight only, and while I paint I listen to the radio or to music. It seems that listening uses a different part of the brain than the part that directs my eyes and my hands!


I would think that the most important places to send [Planting the Trees of Kenya] would be to areas most affected by deforestation. [...] any country where children are in need would have my blessings. The Wangari Maathai story is not just about deforestation, it is about any misuse of the environment, and the environment is in need of help all around this globe!







Posted February 2010

Claire A. Nivola
Claire A. Nivola - photo

by Claire A. Nivola:

written by Linda Glaser,
Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
(Houghton Mifflin, 2010)

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

written by Robin Friedman,
The Silent Witness: A True Story of the Civil War
(Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti,
The Flag Maker
(Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

The Forest
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002)

written by Amy Hest,
The Friday Nights of Nana
(Candlewick, 2001)

written by Elizabeth Spires,
The Mouse of Amherst
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999)

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

written by Betty Jean Lifton,
Tell Me a Real Adoption Story
(Alfred A. Knopf Books, Random House, 1994)

written by Ruth Nivola,
The Messy Rabbit
(Pantheon Books, Random House, 1983)

written by Betty Miles,
Save the Earth! Things to Know, Things to Do; An Ecology Handbook for Kids
(Alfred A. Knopf Books, Random House, 1974)

written by Maria Cimino,
The Disobedient Eels and Other Italian Tales

(Pantheon Books, Random House, 1970)


More on PaperTIgers:

Check out Claire's interview.

Take a look at the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set, which includes Planting the Trees of Kenya.

More on the web:

Read this article, in which Claire talks about her childhood and her books.

Read Claire's Acceptance Speech for the 2009 Jane Addams Children's Book Award.







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