links image map Newbery Books Caldecott Books C.S. King Books Ages 9 Up  Tweens Young Adult Baby / Pre K Picture Books Special Collection / Poetry Fairy Tales Bully Books History / Social Studies Black History Women in History Native American Science and Math Nature Nature Links Educational / Homework Language Arts Art and Games Music and Dance ETC Outreach News I Want to Contribute ETC Newsletter Home Page Search Site Email ETC Welcome to Embracing the Child
Meet Douglas Florian
When I was a kid, my teachers would always write on my report card, "Douglas is a good student, but he doesn't follow directions." I still don't follow directions. When I write a poem, I spell words wrong on purpose, use bad grammar, and invent new words.

I do all this to make my poems better. That's called poetic license, and I renew that license every year.

I studied drawing with many teachers, but my first was my father. He taught me to love nature in all its forms. Later, at Queens College in New York City, I studied with Marvin Bileck, a sweet man from Brooklyn who won a Caldecott Honor for his drawings in Rain Makes Applesauce. He taught me to treat a drawing like a person: with love and affection.

When I got out of school, I did many newspaper illustrations. But I decided it would be more exciting to create children's books. At first I illustrated other people's stories, but soon I was writing my own. Most of my book ideas come from my studies of nature. When I'm writing a poem about an animal, I'll read all about that animal in nonfiction books. Then I'll use the information I've gathered to get started on my poem.

How did I start writing poetry? One day at a flea market I bought a book of poems called OH, THAT'S RIDICULOUS, edited by William Cole. The poems in that book were so funny that I was inspired to write some of my own. A few early poems wound up in my book MONSTER MOTEL, and others in BING BANG BOING.

With BEAST FEAST I began a series of books (also including on the wing, in the SWIM, INSECTLOPEDIA, and MAMMALABILIA) with animal poems and paintings.
I used watercolor paints to illustrate these books. In INSECTLOPEDIA I primed brown bags with white gesso, then painted insects on those bags with watercolors, using a very fine sable brush. Afterward I cut and pasted and flipped and flopped pieces of those pictures and added medieval lettering. I love to give a shape to a poem if it makes sense. My poem about a sawfish is in the shape of a saw. My inchworm poem arches like an inchworm. And my poem about salmon swims up the page like salmon swim upstream. I sometimes make up words to improve a poem. So when a walrus is spattered by the saltwater of the sea, it gets walrusty. A caterpillar that eats a lot is a faterpillar. And a baby kangaroo sleeps in her kangaroom.

You could read one of my most recent books, LAUGH-ETERIA, in your cafeteria. It's something like BING BANG BOING, only longer and funnier.

There's only one rule I follow when writing poems: There are no rules. Poetry rules!

Beast wishes,

Douglas Florian has spent most of his life in New York City, where he was born. He studied art at Queens College and the School of Visual Arts in New York. His book BEAST FEAST (Harcourt, 1994) was an ALA Notable Children's Book and won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. The author and illustrator of many books for children, Mr. Florian lives with his family in New York.

Poem Runs: Baseball Poems 2012

Zoo's Who - 2005

bow wow meow meow: it's ryhming cats and dogs - 2003

mammalabilia@amazon - 2000

Bing Bang Boing@amazon

Laugh-eteria@amazon

beast feast@amazon

in the swim@amazon

insectlopedia@amazon or read more here

on the wing@amazon

Monster Motel@amazon

Vegetable Garden

Illustrated by Douglas Florian:
Very Scary
Written by Tony Johnston

artist/author photo: allen raymond

with perission from...

Harcourt Children's Books
525 B Street, Suite 1900
San Diego, California 92101-4495

Copyright (c) 2000 by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved.