Ever since she was in elementary school, Marla Frazee knew that she wanted to illustrate children's books. Now Frazee is living her childhood dream, stepping into her backyard studio each morning to do what she loves. Frazee is the illustrator Sarah Pennypacker's Clementine books as well as picture books written by a variety of other authors. On her own, Frazee has both written and illustrated a number of original and playful titles, such as Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert, Roller Coaster, and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever.
You can watch the interview below, view the interview transcript, read a short biography on Marla Frazee, or see a selected list of her children's books. (This video is also available on YouTube and iTunes.)
Marla Frazee started drawing at age two and has never stopped. In the third grade, she illustrated a story that her best friend wrote. That story, The Friendship Circle, won an award at the California State Fair and was printed and bound in their school library. During grade school Marla loved to read and was transfixed by picture books such as Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal. She wanted to learn how to make such books herself.
After majoring in illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Frazee found work in advertising, educational publishing, toys, games, and magazines. But it took her 12 years and many rejection letters before she illustrated her first children's book. It took another five long years before she illustrated a second book. Yet after that Frazee began to illustrate one book per year and generate more than enough work.
Over the years, Marla Frazee's three sons have provided inspiration, ideas, and raw material for her books. During one family trip, her boys talked about roller coasters nonstop. Soon thereafter Frazee wrote and illustrated Roller Coaster. A few years later Frazee's youngest son went to nature camp with a friend and returned home with many great stories. His experience inspired Frazee's 2008 book, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever.
Today Marla Frazee lives with her husband in Pasadena, California. In addition to writing and illustrating, she teaches children's book illustration at Art Center College of Design.