|Name Henry Cole|
|Education Virginia Tech|
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Henry Cole (born 1955) is an American author and illustrator of children's books. He has illustrated several books for many authors including Julie Andrews Edwards, Lester Laminack, Erica Perl, Margie Palatini, Alyssa Capucilli, Harvey Fierstein, and Pamela Duncan Edwards.
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Henry Cole, born 1955 near Purcellville, Virginia, United States, most often uses a cartoon-like style with vivid colors and primarily works in acrylics and colored pencils.
Cole grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia. He enjoyed art as a child and frequently made birthday cards for friends or signs for school functions He later went on to study Forestry at Virginia Polytechnic and State University. He never received formal art training, but his mother was an illustrator who gave him advice throughout his career.
Before Cole was an illustrator, he taught science at The Langley School in Virginia from 1984–1999. He frequently used art to illustrate a concept during his classes. As an elementary school teacher, Cole often had the opportunity to hear visiting authors and illustrators speak, and thought that he might be interested in pursuing book illustration as a career.
Cole has collaborated with many authors as well as celebrities such as Julie Andrews and Harvey Fierstein. The Sissy Duckling (2002), written by Fierstein, was a Lambada Literary Award Finalist in 2002 Some of Cole's most famous works are Moosestache (1999) written by Margie Palatini, Mooseletoe (2000) written by Margie Palatini, Big Chickens (2008) written by Leslie Helakoski, and Honk! The Story of a Prima Swanerina (2000) written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, which has recently been made into an animated video by Disney.
Some criticism has been received for And Tango Makes Three (2005), for which Cole was the illustrator. The book is about the true story of two male penguins that raised a chick together in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. Afraid that the book promotes homosexuality, many schools have categorized this book as nonfiction rather than juvenile fiction. The Library of Congress, however, continues to categorize this work as juvenile fiction. Cole's illustrations for this work and several others have been recognized for their realistic nature which is in contrast to his usual trend of cartoon-like illustrations. In a review of And Tango Makes Three, Booklist contributor Jennifer Mattson states that "Cole's pictures complement the perfectly cadenced text".
Cole's many books are well reviewed. Booklist's review of Katy Duck is a Caterpillar (2009), written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli states that, "The...comedic color drawings translate Katy's longing and disappointment and will easily appeal to young children". Cole has also received praise for his illustrations in Tubby the Tuba (2006), written by Paul Tripp. Children's book reviewer Carolyn Phelan for Booklist states, "Cole's colorful retro-style artwork endows the instrument-characters great emotional expressiveness. He uses the large format to good advantage, creating scenes that are varied in their effects and show up well from a distance". Cole's usual whimsical, cartoon-like style with vivid colors and limited white space not only helps to enhance the story by adding character elements; it also draws young readers in.
In addition to illustrating for other writers, Cole has also written and authored fifteen children's books. I Took a Walk (1998) and On the Way to the Beach (2003) both depict things one might find while walking through nature. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that On the Way to the Beach had "marvelously detailed and accurate illustrations [that] give readers a peek into the natural world". In an additional review for On the Way to the Beach Carolyn Phelan for Booklist states that, "Parents looking for an early introduction to nature study will find this an informative offering with a playful approach". On Meadowview Street (2007) is about a girl named Caroline who decides to stop mowing her lawn and let it grow into a field of wildflowers. A 'Publisher's Weekly' critic described the illustrations as "beautifully portrayed in meticulously detailed, velvety acrylics". Jennifer Mattson from Booklist stated, "The jab at soulless suburbia and its faux-bucolic trappings may be most appreciated by adults, but the crucial message ... will speak strongly to today’s ecologically aware children. And it's all done without stridency". All of the books end with a spread containing panels of wildlife seen in the book. Released in early 2010, A Nest for Celeste is Cole's latest foray into writing, and was received with great acclaim. About a mouse looking for a place she can call home, the book also teaches about the work of naturalist John James Audubon as Celeste makes friends with his young apprentice. Amazon.com featured it as a Best Book of the Month in March and the Publisher's Weekly starred review stated that "Evocative illustrations, compelling characters, and thoughtful reflections on the nature of home combine to powerful effect."
One notable title, "Unspoken," (2012) has received numerous awards:: NY Times Best Picture Books, ALA Notable Book, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, 2012 Upstanders Award, Virginia Jefferson Cup Award, Jr. Library Guild Selection, Parents Choice Gold Award, SLJ Best Book, Publisher's Weekly Best Books, White Ravens of 2013, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books, NCTE Notable Books in Language Arts, and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award.
In an interview with Harper Collins, Cole stated "Your own book is your own baby. I think it's more fulfilling to both write and illustrate a book. However, it can be more fun and stimulating to collaborate with another person and create something jointly".
As a child, Cole grew up on a dairy farm and enjoyed being outdoors. His love for the outdoors is what eventually led him to study science. He has said that he spent a "lifetime" observing things in nature such as birds and leaves which has made art easier. He has also stated that he hopes to do more environmental books in the future. Cole is also inspired by artists Norman Rockwell, Paul Klee, John Singer Sargent, and N.C. Wyeth.