Daniel San Souci has illustrated nearly 50 books for young readers.
In His Own Words...
"I was born in San Francisco, arriving on my brother Robert's second birthday. I'm sure that everyone thought that this coincidence was wonderful, but I sometimes wonder if Robert liked sharing his birthday with a little brother who also moved into his room. It didn't take him long to figure out that I couldn't keep my hands off anything, so he had high shelves put on his side of the room and hid all the stools in the house from me. My father used to say that I could take anything in the world apart, but putting it back together was a different story.
"My father worked for the University of California, so we moved across the bay to Berkeley. I grew up in a big house on a tree-lined street in the "Thousand Oaks" district. When I wasn't running around the neighborhood with all my friends, I could usually be found lying on the rug in my room with all my books. There was real excitement about literature in my family. My parents gave my brother and me the entire set of the Scribner Classics. Every night my mother would read to me, and it was then that I discovered N. C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle. The wonderful paintings by these two artists thrilled me so much that I would actually copy all of the illustrations with pencil and fill in the lines with my coloring crayons. One of the highlights of my young life was when my father gave me The Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle. I used to tuck it under my mattress for safekeeping. It was my favorite possession.
"In the evenings, right after dinner, I would clean the dining room table and my father would draw with me. At one point, before World War II, he had worked in New York designing fabric patterns. He was very talented and wanted me to have a good foundation in drawing. By the time I was in seventh grade, I was attending painting classes at the Adult School in Berkeley. I was probably thirty years younger than the other students, but it was special because I was around people who could really paint well.
"In both grammar and high school, my brother and I worked together on the newspapers. Robert would write stories and articles and I would do the illustrations. When I graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, my brother and I decided to combine our talents and create a children's book. Our first two tries didn't make it to print. It was at this time that Robert traveled to the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana, and came back to Berkeley with the idea for The Legend of Scarface. When he had finished the text, I did some sample illustrations and we hopped on a plane for New York City. The response to the book was great, and a year later, in 1978, our first book was hot off the press. The book garnered many awards and is still in print and is still very popular. Robert, who is an award-winning author, and I still try to work together whenever it is possible, although we do most of our work with other illustrators and writers.
"My most recent work is a collaboration with David F. Birchman entitled Jigsaw Jackson. I am a big fan of David, and I was really excited when his manuscript was offered to me to illustrate. For the longest time I have wanted the chance to illustrate a book that is funny, and this story more than fits the bill. It is an original tall tale with some characters that are really going to capture a lot of young imaginations.
"I live in the Oakland hills with my wife Loretta, who is a children's librarian. I have three children-Yvette, Justin, and Noelle — who often serve as an inspiration for me and sometimes land in my books. Our house is the loudest one in our quiet neighborhood. If the kids can't be heard, Heidi, our German shepherd, is usually barking, or Binks, our cat, is screeching."