Degen at the Mazza Museum 2012 conference
|Education||• Art Major, LaGuardia High School|
• Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cooper Union
• Masters of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute
|Jamberry, The Magic School Bus series, Jesse Bear series, Commander Toad series, Daddy is a Doodlebug, Shirley's Wonderful Baby.|
He may be known best for illustrating the series The Magic School Bus written by Joanna Cole. He has collaborated with writers Nancy White Carlstrom, on the Jesse Bear books, and Jane Yolen, on the Commander Toad series. Degen has authored Jamberry, Daddy Is a Doodlebug, and Shirley's Wonderful Baby.
He was encouraged by an elementary school teacher to become an illustrator, and pursue his primary love for art found in children’s books. Humor is one of his key values, as expressed by a quote comparing children's illustration to traditional fine arts: "You don't see many people walking around a gallery are chuckling. And I realized that I wanted a chuckle."
His career has included such diverse activities as advertising design, teaching art to students, teaching children's book illustration to adults, painting scenery for opera productions, and running a lithography studio in Israel. Degen lives in Connecticut.
He was born in 1945 and raised in Brooklyn. His youth was marked by the contrast between urban New York City with the summertimes he spent in rural upstate New York, where he would pick wild berries. He credits these experiences as the inspiration for his book, Jamberry.
"It was green. It was soft. You could walk around in bare feet, and we used to go out and pick lots of berries that grew wild. I always thought of the world as being particularly generous and joyful. And when I was searching my memories, trying to write a book for very young children about being joyful, that popped right up."
Degen attended elementary school in Brooklyn, New York, and went on to attend art schools in Manhattan, including LaGuardia High School and Cooper Union for his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He then attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where he obtained a Masters of Fine Arts degree with a major in printmaking and a minor in painting.
Beach Channel High School
Before creating the Magic School Bus series, he taught art and other subjects at Beach Channel High School in the Rockaway Beach, Queens section of New York City, and at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn.
- Jamberry (1983)
- The Magic School Bus series (1986–2006)
- Daddy Is a Doodlebug (2002) ISBN 0-06-443578-4
- Commander Toad series (1980–1987)
- Shirley's Wonderful Baby (2002)
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