Picture Books Author of the Month
23 January 1943 -- ???
Born in New York City on January 23, 1943, Rosemary Wells grew up in a house "filled with books, dogs, and nineteenth-century music." Her childhood years were spent between her parents' home near Red Bank, New Jersey, and her grandmother's rambling stucco house on the Jersey Shore. She attended Red Bank High School. Most of her sentimental memories, both good and bad, stem from that place and time.
A self-proclaimed "poor student," Wells attended the Museum School in Boston after finishing high school. It was, she recalls, "a bastion of abstract expressionism an art form that brought to my mind things I don't like to eat, fabrics that itch against the skin, divorce, paper cuts, and metallic noises."
Without her degree, she left school at 19, met her future husband Thomas Moore Wells, and began a fledgling career as a book designer with a Boston textbook publisher. She married in 1963, and when her husband applied to the Columbia School of Architecture two years later, the couple moved to New York. Once there, Rosemary Wells landed a job as a designer at Macmillan. She started concentrating solely on her career as a freelance writer and illustrator in 1968.
Wells wrote and illustrated Unfortunately Harriet, her first book with Dial, in 1972. One year later she wrote the popular Noisy Nora. "The children and our home life have inspired, in part, many of my books. Our West Highland white terrier, Angus, had the shape and expressions to become Benjamin and Tulip, Timothy, and all the other animals I have made up for my stories." Her daughters Victoria and Beezoo were constant inspirations, especially for the now famous "Max" board book series. "Simple incidents from childhood are universal," Wells says. "The dynamics between older and younger siblings are common to all families."
But not all of Wells' ideas come from within the family circle. She admits, "I put into my books all of the things I remember. I am an accomplished eavesdropper in restaurants, trains, and gatherings of any kind. These remembrances are jumbled up and changed because fiction is always more palatable than truth. Memories become more true as they are honed and whittled into characters and stories."
Her writing career, spanning nearly three decades, has been a "pure delight," she says. "I regret only that I cannot live other lives parallel to my own. Writing is a lonely profession and I am a gregarious sort of person. I would like someday to work for the FBI. A part of me was never satisfied with years of tennis. I still yearned to play basketball."
Wells also has two daughters.
E-WEL A Lion for Lewis (1982) - When Lewis plays make -believe with his older siblings, he always gets the least desirable role until a lion suit found in a corner turns him into a king.
E-Wells McDuff and the Baby (1997) - McDuff enjoys reading the paper with Fred and taking walks in the woods with Lucy, but all that changes when they bring a new baby home.
E-WEL Morris's Disappearing Bag: A Christmas Story (1975) - Everyone in Morris's family is pleased with their Christmas presents except Morris.
E-WEL Noisy Nora (1973) - Feeling neglected, Nora makes more and more noise to attract her parents' attention.
E-P-WEL Read to Your Bunny (1998) - Brief rhyming text and colorful illustrations tell what happens when parents and children share twenty minutes a day reading together.
E-Wells Timothy Goes to School (1981) - Timothy learns about being accepted and making friends during the first week of his first year at school.
Max and Ruby
BdBk-Wells Max's New Suit (1979) - Max figures out a new way to wear his hated new suit.
E-Wells Bunny Cakes (1997) - Max makes an earthworm cake for Grandma's birthday and helps Ruby with her angel surprise cake. At the store, the grocer can't read the shopping list so Max solves the problem by drawing a picture.
E-Wells Bunny Money (1997) - Max and Ruby spend so much on emergencies while shopping for Grandma's birthday presents that they just barely have enough money left for gifts.
E-Wells Max and Ruby's First Greek Myth: Pandora's Box (1995) - Ruby tries to stop her younger brother Max from sneaking into her room and snooping by reading him an altered version of "Pandora's Box".
E-Wells Max and Ruby's Midas: Another Greek Myth (1995) - Ruby tries to keep her brother Max from eating so many sweets by reading him an altered version of the story of king Midas.
E-Wells Max's Chocolate Chicken (1989) - Max and his sister Ruby go on an egg hunt and vie with each other for the prize -- a chocolate chicken.
E-Wells Max's Toys: A Counting Book (1979) - Numbers one through ten are introduced as Max finally trades all his toys for his sister's doll.
Voyages to the
Bunny Planet series
E-Wells First Tomato (1992) - Claire's bad day at school is helped out after a visit to the Bunny Planet, where she has the day that should have been.
E-Wells The Island Light (1992) - Felix has an awful day until he is whisked off to the Bunny Planet to experience the day that should have been.
E-Wells Moss Pillows (1992) - Robert's visit to relatives is disastrous, but a visit to the Bunny Planet cheers him up as he experiences the day that should have been.
ABC-Wells Edward in Deep Water (1995) - Edward, a shy, young bear, is not ready for birthday pool parties with high-spirited grade-school bears.
ABC-Wells Edward Unready for School (1995) - Edward, a shy, young bear unready for play school, feels left out of place surrounded by students who are ready, busy, and happy.
ABC-Wells Edward's Overwhelming Overnight (1995) - Edward's parents tell him that because of the snow he will have to stay overnight with his friend Anthony, but Edward finds this overwhelming.
Fiction & Non-Fiction Titles
J-Wells Lassie Come Home (1995) - Sold in financial desperation to a wealthy duke, a collie undertakes a 1000-mile journey in order to be reunited with her former master in Yorkshire.
J-92 Breckinridge Mary on Horseback: Three Mountain Stories (1998) - The life story of the frontier nurse Mary Breckinridge.
Illustrated by Rosemary Wells
E-My My Very First Mother Goose (1996) edited by Iona Opie - A collection of more than sixty nursery rhymes including "Hey Diddle, Diddle", "Pat-a-Cake", "Little Jack Horner", and "Pussycat, Pussycat".