Sophie Blackall grew up in Australia where she learned to draw on the beach with sticks, which has not altogether helped her sense of perspective. She completed a Bachelor of Design in Sydney, which furnished her with useful Letraset, bromide and enlarger machine skills. The following few years were spent painting robotic characters for theme parks, providing the hands for a DIY television show, and writing a household hints column.
In 2000, Blackall was inveigled by New York. She convinced her husband, and two small children (who couldn’t talk and had no say in the matter), to pack suitcases and sense of adventure and join the diaspora. After two months of pounding the streets, portfolio in hand, and despite the tireless efforts of her agent, the return plane ticket was cashed in to pay the rent. Just when the highlight in the day had become half a can of Budweiser at six o’clock, the fax machine coughed and spluttered and delivered a commission of nine illustrations for The New York Times.
After lots of editorial work and several animated TV commercials in the UK, the first children’s book Sophie Blackall illustrated was Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges (Chronicle), which won the Ezra Jack Keats award in 2003. Blackall was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2016 for Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear (Little, Brown), written by Lindsay Mattick.
Other books illustrated by Sophie Blackall include: Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff (Holt), which won the Society of Illustrators Founders Award; Summer is Summer by Phillis and David Gershator (Holt); What’s So Bad About Being an Only Child? by Cari Best (FSG); Red Butterfly by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick); Ivy and Bean series (books one through ten) by Annie Barrows (Chronicle); Jumpy Jack and Googily by Meg Rosoff (Holt); Wild Boars Cook by Meg Rosoff (Holt); Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields (Dutton); The Witches of Benevento series by John Bemelmans Marciano (Viking Books for Young Readers); and A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
Learn more about Blackall’s work at SophieBlackall.com.