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 Picture Books Author of the Month
Frank Asch
Frank Asch
6 August 1946 -- ???

Frank Asch was born on August 6, 1946 to John and Margaret (Giasullo) Asch in Somerville, New Jersey. His father John was a truck driver.

Asch's childhood was filled with common activities for boys of the time, such as blowing bubbles, swinging on swings, and daydreaming. With his interest in daydreaming, one would think that he had always wanted to be a writer. That was not the case. One of the things he would often dream about was becoming a cowboy like Roy Rogers. Asch loved the way he road his horse Trigger and always got the bad guys. "He was tough, but kind and good," wrote Asch in his autobiography. [1]

His interests changed as he grew up. By the time he entered high school, Asch had decided he wanted to be an artist. He was not sure that he had any talent until his high school art teacher showed off his work. "One day I walked into my high school art class and saw an entire bulletin board covered with my art work. Above the bulletin board was written 'Frank Asch: One Man Show." From then on, I began to think that maybe someday I really could become an artist." [1]

Upon completing his high school education, Asch attended Cooper Union, an art school in New York City, in 1965. While attending school in the city, Asch spent a lot of his spare time with his Uncle Crecenzo, who had a small carpentry shop in Greenwich Village. Crecenzo was alway making up games and stories for the neighborhood kids. It was watching his uncle that made Asch realize he wanted to make art for kids rather than having it hang in a museum. It was this decision that got him started on his first book, George's Store. This book was published in 1968, a year before he graduated from Cooper Union with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

After graduating, Asch travelled to India where he taught English at a public school. He also studied yoga while he was there.

It was when he returned to the United States that Asch met his future wife Jan. They were married in 1975 and taught at a Montessori school in New Jersey.

A year later in 1976, Asch and his wife Jan started their own children's theater, which they called The Belly Buttons. They made their own puppets and put on shows, which included singing performances by Jan. Asch also found it a great way to try out new stories.

In 1979, Jan gave birth to their son Devin. It was two years later that the Asch family decided to move to Middletown Springs, Vermont, where they became a part of a home schooling community.

Asch greatly valued the time he could spend with his son. "Becoming a father was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me! I loved watching Devin explore the world. Everything was new to him." [1] It can be of no surprise that he would later start a puppet club for Devin and his friends.

In 1989, Asch co-wrote a book with Vladimir Vagin, a citizen of what was then the Soviet Union. The book, which was entitled Here Comes the Cat!, was the first Soviet/American collaboration on a children's book. Vagin concentrated on the illustrations while Asch wrote the story. The tale was about a town of mice who are afraid of a sinister cat, who turns out to be the bearer of a giant piece of cheese. The book was very successful. It received wide recognition in the United States and was awarded the Russian National Book Award. Vagin has since moved to the same town in Vermont as the Asch family.

Asch started a new project in the mid-1990's. Along with photographer Ted Levin, Asch has been creating a series of books that introduced nature to children through the photgraphs of Levin and the poetry of Asch. As part of this project, Levin and Asch have traveled to the desert, camped in the Arctic, and canoed in the Everglades. To date, they have published three books in the series.

When asked why he creates children's books, Asch once said, "I do kid's books because I like to draw and make up stories which express my feelings about what is going on in my head, and because it enables me to put my artistic ability to some tangible use." [3]

Writing isn't all that Asch does these days. He loves to go outdoors to chop wood, play with kids, or fly a kite. All of these help him get over small bouts of writers block. Asch also collects heart-shaped rocks, raises horses, and enjoys spending time with his dog Robi.

When he is not writing, Asch loves to visit schools where he puts on his Moon Bear costume and tells stories. He also still puts on puppet shows for school kids.

Information for this biography was taken from:
1) Frank Asch. One Man Show; Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc.: Katonah, NY, 1997.
2) Tracy Chevalier (ed.). Twentieth Century Children Writers; St. James Press: New York, 1989.
3) Anne Commire (ed.).  Something About the Author, #5; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1973.
4) Vermont Children's Author & Illustrator Frank Asch; http://frankasch.com.

E-Asch Baby in a Box (1989) -- A baby, a fox, and an ox play with blocks in a box.

E-Asch Bear Shadow (1985) -- Bear tries everything he can think of to get rid of his shadow.

E-Asch Bread and Honey (1981) -- Ben paints a picture of his mother with a little help from Owl, Rabbit, Alligator, Elephant, Lion, and Giraffe.

E-Asch Good Night, Baby Bear (1998) -- As winter approaches, Mother Bear must bring a snack, a drink, and finally the moon to her cub before he can go to sleep in a cave.

E-Asch Goodbye House (1986) -- Just before leaving with his family for the move to their new home, Little Bear says goodbye to all his favorite places in and around his old house.

E-Asch Happy Birthday, Moon (1982) -- When a bear discovers that the moon shares his birthday, he buys the moon a beautiful hat as a present.

E-Asch Just Like Daddy (1981) -- A very young bear describes all the activities he does during the day that are just like his daddy's.

E-Asch Milk and Cookies (1982) -- While spending the night at Grandfather's house, Baby Bear dreams of feeding milk and cookies to a dragon.

E-Asch Moonbear's Pet (1997) -- Bear and Little Bird find a baby fish in their pond and decide to keep her for a pet. When she starte to sprout wings, or may paws, each thinks the fish wants to be like him.This puts a strain on their friendship.

E-Asch Moongame (1984) -- During a game of hide-and-seek, Moon hides behind a cloud leaving his friend Bear very worried.

E-Asch Sand Cake: A Frank Asch Bear Story (1978) -- Papa Bear uses his culinary skills and a little imgination to concoct a sand cake.

E-Asch Turtle Tale (1978) -- A young turtle learns how to be a wise old turtle, with a few hard knocks along the way.

J-P-ASC Pearl's Pirates (1987) -- Led by plucky Pearl, a small band of mice sets sail in a model ship and braves the dangers of Frog Island in search of lost pirate treasure.

Non-Fiction Titles
J-811.54-ASC Cactus Poems (1998) -- Poems and photographs depict desert ecosystems in North America.

Vermont Children's Author & Illustrator Frank Asch (http://frankasch.com) -- This site is maintained by the author Frank Asch. It allows for everything from a list of his books to fun stuff for teachers and children alike. You can even send an e-mail to him. 

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