Uri Shulevitz

Uri Shulevitz

Uri Shulevitz was born in Warsaw, Poland, on February 27, 1935. He began drawing at the age of three and, unlike many children, never stopped. The Warsaw blitz occurred when Mr.Shulevitz was four years old. He vividly remembers public services halting, streets caving in, buildings burning, and a bomb falling into a stairwell of his apartment building one day when he was home.

In 1939, the Shulevitz family fled Warsaw, and for eight years they were wanderers, arriving, eventually, in Paris in 1947. Uri developed an enthusiasm for French comic books, and soon he and a friend started making their own, with Uri drawing the pictures. At thirteen, he won first prize in an all-elementary-school drawing competition in Paris's 20th district.

Mr. Shulevitz moved to Israel with his parents and baby brother in 1949. For two years, he worked during the day at a variety of jobs. He was an apprentice at a rubber-stamp shop, a carpenter, and a dog-license clerk at Tel Aviv City Hall. From 1952 to 1956, he studied at the Teachers' Institute in Tel Aviv, where he took courses in literature, anatomy, and biology. Uri also studied privately under the painter Yehezkel Streichman and at the Art Institute of Tel Aviv. At fifteen, he was the youngest to exhibit in a group drawing show at the Tel Aviv Museum.

During the Sinai War, in 1956, Mr. Shulevitz went into basic training with the Israeli Army, then joined the Ein Geddy kibbutz by the Dead Sea. "After a long trip by the dry, stark, and hot shores of the Dead Sea, Ein Geddy unfolds like a Chinese scroll with its waterfall and rich vegetation," he says. After his army service was over, Uri began to freelance, and at the age of twenty-four he came to New York City.

For the next two years, he studied painting at Brooklyn Museum Art School. At this time he also did illustrations for a publisher of Hebrew books for children.

One day when he was talking on the telephone, Uri noticed that his doodles had a fresh and spontaneous look. They bore no resemblance to the work he was doing for the publisher. This discovery was the beginning of Uri's new approach to his illustrations for The Moon in My Room, his first book, published in 1963.

Since then Uri has illustrated over thirty-five books, twelve of which he also wrote. Among his remarkable books are The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship by Arthur Ransome, for which he won the Caldecott Medal for "the most distinguished American picture book for children" published in 1969; The Treasure, a Caldecott Honor Book; Rain Rain Rivers; Dawn; Toddlecreek Post Office; and The Secret Room.

Uri Shulevitz currently lives in Greenwich Village in New York City.

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How I Learned Geography
by Uri Shulevitz
1st edition from Farrar, Straus and Giroux
for 2nd-5th grade
Caldecott Honor Book
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)