Jackie Urbanovic

Jackie Urbanovic is a bestselling illustrator, author, and speaker. She loves to laugh and to make other people laugh. She delights in hearing the tales of others as well as weaving the twists and turns of her own stories. No wonder, she comes from a family of practical jokers and oral storytellers. Following in their footsteps, she has spent her life creating funny stories for children.

She graduated with a BFA from the Maryland Institute of Art and has been working as a professional illustrator for over 30 years. She studied writing with the fabulous author Jane Resh Thomas and five years ago added author to her credits when Duck at the Door was published, the first in her Max the duck series.

Her New York Times Bestselling Max books have been chosen and nominated to state reading lists in Nebraska, Arizona, Nevada, Arkansas, Tennesee, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Illinois. Duck at the Door was chosen as an IndieBound Top Ten Pick, Duck Soup was chosen as a Bank Street Best Children’s Book as well as added to Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List. In 2010 Kohl’s chose Duck at the Door and Duck Soup for their Kohl’s Cares for Kids Campaign, printing special editions of both books and creating plush toys of both Max and his Saint Bernard buddy, Brody.

No Sleep for the Sheep, which she illustrated for Karen Beaumont has been chosen for the Texas 2×2 Reading list and has been named a Bank Street Best Children’s Book. Grandma Lena’s Big ‘Ol Turnip, which she illustrated for Denia Lewis Hester was awarded an Aesop Accolade.

She has spent most of her life in the Midwest, growing up in Michigan and then moving to Minnesota. While she longs to be back in the snow, sleet, minus zero temps, high winds and skidding tires, she is now enjoying the much warmer weather in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Selected Reviews of Jackie Urbanovic’s Books

I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus
Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
   Anything is possible in Prelutsky’s universe of more than 100 silly, rhyming poems that poke holes in the serious facade of the adult world. A snake performs arithmetic, a boy is puzzled by the rainstorm in his bedroom (“So I’m getting soaking wet./ This is an odd phenomenon/ I will not soon forget”), and a thirsty centipede drinks too much water (“And so the centipede”). Urbanovic’s blithe pen-and-ink illustrations offer playfully literal interpretations of clever hybrids like a “Spellican” (“a most talented bird/ That’s able to spell/ Any difficult word,” pictured with a craw full of letters) and an “Elephantom,” rising from a gravestone. Another effortlessly fun collection from a master of absurdist verse. 2012, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 5 to 10, $18.99. Reviewer: Publishers Weeky, February 22, 2012.

No Sleep for the Sheep!
Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
   This humorous tale begs to be read aloud, full of rhythmic repetitions and animal noises. The story begins with a sheep asleep “…in the big red barn, in the big red barn on the farm.” First he is awakened by the quack of a duck. Then it is the baaa of a goat, the oink of a pig, the moo of a cow, and the neigh of a horse. Each time, the sheep asks the new arrival to go to sleep, quietly; and each time another creature is then added to the jumbled heap in the barn, including the sheep’s teddy bear. When the horse settles in, it is the “Cock-a-doodle-doo” of the rooster that wakes them all; all but the sheep, who sleeps right through, finally at peace. Urbanovic deals with the challenge of creating variation for the repetitive text with animation and some hand lettering along with her illustrations in watercolors and brown pencil outline. Each animal “talks” in upper-case letters in a different color: blue for “MOO,” purple for “OINK,” etc. And each time the group assumes different positions in their efforts to sleep while the sheep goes through histrionics. The anthropomorphic actions of the creatures with real personalities add to the fun of this comedy. 2011, Harcourt Children’s Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

Duck and Cover
Jackie Urbanovic
   When a desperate alligator named Harold, on the lam from the zoo, turns up at Irene’s door, she and her pets are reluctant at first to provide him with amnesty given his crime (he claims to have accidentally eaten someone’s pet). A sympathetic Max the duck, star of Duck Soup, convinces the group to try to help, and they consider various options (“‘How about the bread box?’ said Tawny. THUNK! OW! THUNK! ‘Nope, too small,’ said Irene”) before finally coming up with a brilliant plan. The plan–they all dress up as alligators–succeeds in baffling the zoo detective, but everyone is relieved when the detective reveals that what Harold ate was in fact a hot dog, not a pet dog. Max and his crew continue to be a personable bunch, and Urbanovic still knows how to up the melodramatic ante with both her witty narrative (“. . . they decided to sleep on it. In Irene’s room. With the door locked tight”) and her comically slapstick illustrations (there’s lots of rushing around and waving paws or wings about). She capably depicts the pets’ understandable nervousness around their pointy-toothed houseguest while also portraying Harold as a lovable, if large, reptile with fears of his own (the basement, for example). This is rife with riotous readaloud potential, so grab the previous title and make it a Max Marathon, or just enjoy it solo. 2009, HarperCollins, Ages 5 to 8, $18.89 and $17.99. Reviewer: Jeannette Hulick (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, March 2009 (Vol. 62, No. 7)).

Program Details

A day’s appearance includes 3 presentations, lunch with teachers or students, plus book signing. Jackie can give her presentations to small classes or to large, auditorium sized groups. Her presentations are 45 minutes to an hour. For pre-school or kindergarten she tries to keep it to 45 minutes or less. Her workshops are 2-3 hours.

Fees: For local appearances (within 1 hour of her home) her fees are $1500/per day. Out of state appearances are $2500/per day, plus travel and lodging.

Duck Books: The behind the scenes story of the Max the duck books and Jackie’s life. This includes pictures and stories about her childhood and becoming an artist, the people and animals who inspired her books and a bit about her studio and how she work. This talk is designed in two levels to be for kindergarten-1st grades and 2nd-4th grades.

Creating Story and Drawing Workshop: This is a hands-on workshop for students 3rd grade or older. Jackie present a traditional story based on a folk or fairy tale. Then each student writes their own version of the story and learns about creating their own character to go with it. This is a 2-3 hour workshop.

Being a Professional Illustrator/Author: Jackie shows the audience art from her books. She talks to them about what art is, what careers are in the arts, how the arts impact our lives. She talks about what experiences influenced her becoming an artist as well as influenced the kinds of stories she tells. Jackie shows more detailed information about the process of creating a character and a book. This talk is meant for 5th grade and older.

The Art of Time and Story: A talk for high school or adult audiences about the impact of books and story on Jackie’s life and on all of our lives. It covers topics such the influence of family on an artist, creating books on a deadline, anxiety and creativity, recycling ideas, the books, stories and artists that preceded us, how story connects us all and the importance of story throughout time.

Additional Information

To learn more about Jackie Urbanovic and her publications please visit www.jackieurbanovic.com.