During David Wiesner’s formative years, the last images he saw before closing his eyes at night were the books, rockets, elephant heads, clocks, and magnifying glasses that decorated the wallpaper of his room. Perhaps it was this decor which awakened his creativity and gave it the dreamlike, imaginative quality so often found in his work.
As a child growing up in suburban New Jersey, Wiesner re-created his world daily in his imagination. His home and his neighborhood became anything from a faraway planet to a prehistoric jungle. When the everyday play stopped, he would follow his imaginary playmates into the pages of books, wandering among dinosaurs in the World Book Encyclopedia. The images before him generated a love of detail, an admiration for the creative process, and a curiosity about the hand behind the drawings.
In time, the young Wiesner began exploring the history of art, delving into the Renaissance at first — Michelangelo, Dürer, and da Vinci — then moving on to such surrealists as Magritte, de Chirico, and Dalí. As he got older, he would sit, inspired by these masters, at the oak drafting table his father had found for him and would construct new worlds on paper and create wordless comic books, such as Slop the Wonder Pig, and silent movies, like his kung fu vampire film The Saga of Butchula.
Wiesner has always been intrigued by and curious about what comes before and after the captured image. His books somehow convey the sequence of thoughts leading up to and following each picture, and that quality explain why they are frequently described as cinematic.
At the Rhode Island School of Design, Wiesner was able to commit himself to the full-time study of art and to explore further his passion for wordless storytelling. There he met two people who would figure prominently in his life: Tom Sgouros, to whom Tuesday is dedicated, and David Macaulay, to whom The Three Pigs is dedicated. These two men not only taught Wiesner the fundamentals of drawing and painting but also fostered his imaginative spirit and helped him comprehend the world around him. Sgouros’s and Macaulay’s artistic influences were vital to Wiesner’s development into the acclaimed picture-book author he is today.
David Wiesner has illustrated more than twenty award-winning books for young readers. Two of the picture books he both wrote and illustrated became instant classics when they won the prestigious Caldecott Medal: Tuesday in 1992 and The Three Pigs in 2002. Two of his other titles, Sector 7 and Free Fall, are Caldecott Honor Books. An exhibit of Wiesner’s original artwork, “Seeing the Story,” toured the United States in 2000 and 2001. Among his many honors, Wiesner holds the Japan Picture Book Award for Tuesday, the Prix Sorcières (the French equivalent of the Caldecott Medal) for The Three Pigs, and a 2004 IBBY Honour Book nomination for illustration, also for The Three Pigs. Flotsam, his most recent work, was a New York Times bestseller and was recently named winner of the 2007 Caldecott Medal, making Wiesner only the second person in the award’s long history to have won three times.
Wiesner lives with his wife and their son and daughter in the Philadelphia area, where he continues to create dreamlike and inventive images for books.
Books in order of publication:
As writer and illustrator
- 1987 Loathsome Dragon, retold by Wiesner and Kim Kahng
- 1988 Free Fall
- 1990 Hurricane
- 1991 Tuesday
- 1992 June 29, 1999
- 1999 Sector 7
- 2001 The Three Pigs
- 2006 Flotsam
- 2010 Art & Max
- 2013 Mr. Wuffles!
- 2018 I Got It!
- 1980 Honest Andrew by Gloria Skurzynski
- 1980 Man from the Sky by Avi
- 1981 Ugly Princess by Nancy Luenn
- 1981 One Bad Thing about Birthdays by David R. Collins
- 1981 Boy who Spoke Chimp by Jane Yolen
- 1982 Owly by Mike Thaler
- 1982 Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk by Jane Yolen
- 1983 Miranty and the Alchemist by Vera Chapman
- 1984 Dark Green Tunnel by Allan W. Eckert
- 1985 Wand: the Return to Mesmeria by Allan W. Eckert
- 1985 E.T., the Storybook of the Green Planet by William Kotzwinkle; based on the film story by Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison
- 1986 Kite Flier by Dennis Haseley
- 1988 Firebrat by Nancy Willard
- 1989 The Rainbow People by Laurence Yep
- 1989 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Marianna Mayer
- 1991 Tongues of Jade by Laurence Yep
- 1994 Night of the Gargoyles by Eve Bunting