Illustrator Neil WaldmanNeil Waldman always knew that drawing and painting provided a magical pathway to the secret inner world of his imagination. As a child, he would retreat to his bedroom, close the door, and sit down with crayons and a sketch pad. As he would draw and watch shapes and colors fill his pages, his fears and tensions would dissolve.

It is no coincidence that he chose to become a children's book illustrator. As an adult Neil realized that he had to earn a living, but he was determined to spend his days doing what he loved most. Illustration allows him to achieve both goals.

For Neil each new picture book is an adventure. During the weeks and months that he works on a story, its mysteries rest in the world just behind his eyes, waiting to be revealed. He lives within the story. He reads the manuscript every night before going to sleep and images begin swirling in his dreams. But images come at other times, too, when least expected. Neil says that one time he envisioned a whole book during a terrible migraine headache.

When the images begin to clarify, he starts sketching in pencil. When the people and places in the sketches match those in his imagination, he bring out his paints. Then the fun begins. Sometimes the paintings take a month to complete. Other times they take more than a year.

"There are difficulties in living the life I've chosen. Sometimes I struggle for weeks or months, desperately searching for the soul of a story that continues to elude me. At other times I worry about the erratic work schedule and unsteady income. But the countless joys and thrills that tumble about me like autumn leaves make it clear that there is no other profession on earth that I would choose."

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Books by Neil Waldman

Too Young for Yiddish