home Gallery
Read Our Blog Papertigers: Books + Water
Interviews Past Issues reviews Personal Views List and Links Outreach

Featured Artist

Archived Artists
  search our site  

Is this section useful?
Are we missing something?
Let us know!

feedback At Papertigers Dot Org

sign up for our newsletter!

read our blog


Ed Young's artwork
View Gallery

Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, in 1931, and grew up in Shanghai, in a house built by his father, as recorded in his latest picture-book The House Baba Built. He later moved to Hong Kong, and from there to the USA, where he trained as an artist. He worked in advertising before illustrating his first book The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories in 1962.

Since then, Ed has illustrated more than 80 books, nearly half of which he also wrote. His versatility and the imaginative mixing of media in his art, as well as his artistic sensitivity towards each new book, have reaped him many awards, including the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China and two Caldecott Honors for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice, based on the classic Indian story of the blind men and the elephant.

Ed lives in New York with his two daughters and two cats.


Quotations taken from our interview with
Ed Young:

[About The House Baba Built] - I wanted the whole composition to be like a scrap book. I tried to make the words look like they're written –so you have a picture and the words describing them, like in a photo album or a scrapbook. The variety of styles appears casual but it provides the vehicle for the spirit of what I want to convey. The mixture of media also partly comes from having bits and pieces that got left behind from the earlier versions. In the end, I had so many pictures and so many words that it was going to be difficult to fit them all together within the book – so some of the silhouettes became a sort of background with words over them.


I'm always trying out different media with a view to enhancing my stories. If I serve a medium by learning about it, then it will come and serve me. It's also a way to keep myself fresh. I don't take any medium for granted. For example, I love paper, but in The House Baba Built, I mainly used fabric. Since that was new for me, I learned something.


I was brought up seeing pictures and words complimenting each other, with the calligraphy of the words conveying meaning as a form of art. Unlike in Western art where you maybe have a few words hiding someplace in the corner (a signature, but it doesn't really mean anything), in Chinese art, words are an integral part of a composition. The words help the pictures and the pictures help the words. Sometimes the words become much more important and you put a little inky picture somewhere to emphasise the words.

Usually the visual part does come to me first, but then sometimes, when I'm telling a story, it is truly the words that come. I'm very interested in poetry and putting pictures to poems to enhance the beauty of words. With Beyond the Great Mountain, for instance, the words came first. [...]

When I do a children's book with pictures, the words have a place: but then sometimes maybe you don't even have any words on a particular spread, you just have pictures. I compare them to the pauses in a piece of music. They give you a sense of space and silence, and the sounds become much more prominent after that. So there's a moment of silence, then you go to the next picture with some kind of anticipation. You are maybe compelled to see the next picture because it brings up a surprise of some sort. Or there's something that you would like to linger over, and then you see it move forward in the next image. It's really about communication between the reader and the turning of the page.

Posted January 2012

Ed Young
Ed Young - photo

More on PaperTigers:

Read our interview with Ed.

Follow our many references to Ed and his work on our blog.

More on the web:

Visit Ed's website

Read Ed's interview with 7-Imp.

Read more about Beyond the Great Mountains and Wabi Sabi in Ed's interviews with Cynsations.

Read about this presentation Ed made to young school children, based around Beyond the Great Mountains.

Find out more about Shanghai Messenger from the features on Lee & Low's website.


by Ed Young (selected bibliography):

The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant, written by Michelle Cuevas (Frances Foster Books, 2011)

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China, text as told by Ed Young to Libby Koponen
(Little Brown and Co., 2011)

Seven Fathers, retold by Ashley Ramsden
(Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, 2011)

Moon Bear, written by Brenda Z. Guiberson
(Henry Holt and Co., 2010)

(Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, 2009)

Tsunami, written by Kimiko Kajikawa
(Philomel Books, 2009)

Wabi Sabi, written by Mark Reibstein
(Little Brown and Co., 2008)

Twenty Heartbeats, written by Dennis Haseley
(Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press, 2008)

Tiger of the Snows
Tenzing Norgay:
The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest
, written by Robert Burleigh
(Atheneum Books, 2006)

My Mei Mei
(Philomel Books, 2006)

Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem of China
(Chronicle Books, 2005)

Shanghai Messenger, written by Andrea Cheng
(Lee & Low Books, 2005)

The Sons of the Dragon King
(Atheneum Books, 2004)

I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket
(Philomel Books, 2004)

What about Me?
(Philomel Books, 2002)

Monkey King
(HarperCollins, 2001)

Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac (Henry Holt and Co., 1998)

Voices of the Heart
(Scholastic Press, 1997)

Donkey Trouble
(Atheneum Books, 1995)

Little Plum
(Philomel Books, 1994)

Iblis, by Shulamith Oppenheim
(Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1994)

Moon Mother
(Harper Collins, 1993)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, written by Eleanor Coerr

Red Thread
(Philomel Books,1993)

Seven Blind Mice (Philomel Books, 1992)

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
(Philomel Books, 1989)

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, retold by Al-Ling Louie (Philomel Books, 1982)

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, written by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
(Henry Holt and Co., 1973)

Golden Swans of Chaiyapitom, written by Kermit Kruger
(World Publishing, 1969)

The Emperor and the Kite,written by Jane Yolen
(Philomen Books, 1967)

The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories, written by Janice May Udry (Harper & Row, 1962)


Photo credit: © Gordon Trice



  interviews | gallery | personal views | reviews | past issues | lists and links  

about us | newsletter & privacy policy | downloads | site map | search | testimonials | disclaimer

home | outreach | blog
contact us©2001-2012 Papertigers: Books + Water