Lee Harper always loved to draw. His love for doodling grew into a serious ambition to be an artist and after high school he attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He says, “After college I embarked on the most challenging and rewarding adventure of my life… being a husband and father of four wonderful children. My career path took a few detours that led me down many roads which didn’t always involve making art, but somehow life’s path led me back.”
In 2008 he illustrated his first book, Woolbur by Leslie Helakoski. In addition to illustrating books by authors like Wendi Silvano and Walter Dean Myers, Lee also wrote and illustrated three works of his own: Snow! Snow! Snow!, Coyote, and The Emperor’s Cool Clothes.
His ninth book, Ready or Not: Woolbur Goes School, another collaboration with Leslie Helakoski, is due out in late 2018.
The Emperor’s Cool Clothes
A classic Hans Christian Andersen tale gets a modern twist. Nerdy little penguin suffered taunts because of his wardrobe, so after he becomes Emperor, he becomes obsessed with looking totally cool. He discovers the store of the Two Rogues, who promise a wardrobe that will only be visible to totally cool people. The Chancellors of Chill Cool report that the invisible clothing is as promised, so Emperor Penguin wears it in the Royal Parade. Only a little girl is honest enough to observe that the Emperor has no clothes on. Lee Harper’s watercolor and pencil illustrations contain many visual puns and humorous details, bringing the minimalist text with its wordplay to life. This is a rollicking story with a strong moral lesson, and youngsters will enjoy reading it again and again, finding new details each time. Highly Recommended. Reviewer: MaryAnn Karre (Library Media Connection, January/February 2012).
Looking for the Easy Life
Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by Lee Harper
“Life was pretty good on Monkey Island. Yes, it was.” With a hardworking leader like Uh-Huh Freddie, the monkeys were on their way to creating a real monkey paradise. But when Oswego Pete thinks life would be better if they could find Easy Street, the whole troop takes off in search of better times. Of course, after a running away from monkey-eating sharks and lions, and spending time providing free labor for a hippo rap group, the monkeys decide the easy life is not for them. Myers delivers his message through a narrative that flows with the rhythm of a gifted storyteller. Kids will laugh out loud at the idea of a monkey flicking a booger at a big old shark. Harper’s vibrantly colored illustrations are full of movement and comedic moments that match the tone of the story perfectly. The small skinny monkeys are no match for the large predators they encounter, but manage to come out on top, with the exception of Oswego Pete, whose tail takes a beating. Though a bit long for preschool storytimes, the language and large, bright pictures make this a good selection for primary grade read-alouds. Reviewer: Heather Christensen (Children’s Literature).
Snow! Snow! Snow!
This book celebrates winter and shows the joy that one can experience sledding in the snow. The wind howls and the snow falls and falls and falls and falls, but the reader is captivated by the winter wonderland through words and illustrations. A night snowstorm creates a perfect sledding day. The snow scene is vividly portrayed while the characters enjoy sledding. We can feel the “SPLOOMPH” as their sled takes them over the crest of a hill and airborne with the birds before landing. We can understand why the characters’ final words are “Again! Again!” as they sprawl, smiling, on the snowy slope. Harper captures the joy of a winter day and the magic of the first snow thanks to his own experiences sledding with his sons. His words and imaginative illustrations bring the familiar winter activity to life. All who read this delightful story will want to head for the slopes! Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith (Children’s Literature).
A typical full day school visit includes three 1-hour assemblies, classroom visits, and as much book signing as there are books to sign. You can book Lee for a full day or by the assembly.
Each assembly consists of PowerPoint visuals accompanied by a discussion of such things as: the kind of books Lee read as a boy, what inspired him to become a picture book author/illustrator, where his ideas come from, and everything that’s involved in writing and illustrating a picture book. Lee always reinforces the idea that any good story or drawing goes through many revisions. Then comes the part the kids love best…
Each student creates his or her own version of a few of my characters as Lee leads them step-by-step in a guided drawing demonstration. At the end of each presentation he answer as many questions as time allows.
Fees: $1,000 for a full day school visit or $500 per assembly. Plus travel expenses if your school is more than 50 miles away.
To learn more about Lee Harper and his publications please visit www.leeharperart.com.