Emily Gravett (born 1972) is an English author and illustrator of children's picture books. For her debut book published in 2005 and again two years later, she won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal recognising the year's best-illustrated British children's book (no one has won three).
Emily Gravett was born in Brighton, England, the second daughter of a printmaker and an art teacher. After her parents split, she lived with her mother the teacher, but she and her father would "go out drawing" in museums. She left school at 16 with GCSE qualification only in Art (grade A) and travelled Great Britain for eight years, living in "a variety of vehicles" and meeting her partner Mik.
By 1997 they had settled in Wales and had a daughter Oleander (Olly). Gravett "realised that I wanted a career, and drawing was my only skill", so she began an Art course. The family returned to Brighton in 2001, where persistence rather than qualifications got her an interview for the Illustration degree course at the local university. She matriculated that September and graduated three years later.
During her second year as a student, Gravett entered one of her school projects for the MacMillan Prize for Children's Illustration, a competitive annual award to art students established in 1985. She earned a "Highly Commended" then and won the prize in her final year, when she entered two books that the judges ranked first and second. That ensured a contract publication of Wolves by Macmillan Children's Books (now the children's books imprint of Pan MacMillan). The editorial director later said, "It was quite obvious who the winner was going to be. Emily entered Wolves in a beautiful dummy format, and really we had to do very little work on it before it was published. She's a bookbinder as well as an artist; a real creator of books." Two years after graduation she won the Kate Greenaway Medal from the professional librarians, recognising Wolves as the previous year's (2005) best-illustrated new children's book published in the U.K. By that time, rights had been sold in five other countries.
Next year (officially dated 2007)[a] she made the Greenaway shortlist for Orange Pear Apple Bear. The year after that she won a second Medal (no one has won three) for her fourth book, Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears, and made the shortlist as well for fifth book, Monkey and Me. WorldCat reports that Orange Pear Apple Bear is her work most widely held in participating libraries. According to one library summary, it "[e]xplores concepts of color, shape, and food using only five simple words, as a bear juggles and plays."
For 2008 Gravett was official illustrator for World Book Day (United Kingdom) — an honor with duties such as specially commissioned illustrations and recorded demonstration of characters from her books.
The current Children's Laureate (2011–2013) Julia Donaldson wrote and Gravett illustrated Cave baby, a 32-page picture book featuring a prehistoric baby's tour atop a woolly mammoth, published by Macmillan in 2010. It has been published in Welsh-language and Chinese editions but not in the United States. With that one exception as of September 2012, Gravett has been the writer and illustrator of all her published work: thirteen picture books including four board books, all published by MacMillan.
Gravett completed Wolves in six weeks as an Illustration course project, and added only the back endpaper spread during the editorial process. Some projects take longer but she wrote and sketched Orange Pear Apple Bear in merely 11 hours, waking one Mother's Day with the four words in her head and staying in bed for "the whole book in one go".
Gravett's books are interactive. She encouraged the pet dog to chew the dummy for Wolves, in order "to simulate the impact of the wolf's teeth". That didn't work so she chewed it herself.
She wanted Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears to look genuinely chewed, so she painted yoghurt on plain white paper and laid it in the cage of the two pet rats. They nibbled it and peed on it, which she scanned to produce background for drawing. The front cover illustration shows the title Little Mouse's
Emily Gravett's Big Book of Fears, a mouse looking through a hole it has chewed, and damage along the book edges.
- —published as Wolves by "Emily Grrrabbit" in the United States (Simon & Schuster, 2006)
- Orange Pear Apple Bear (2006)
- Meerkat Mail (2006)
- The Imaginary (2014)
- Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears (2007)
- Monkey and Me (2007)
- The Odd Egg (2008)
- Spells (2008)
- Dogs (2009)
- The Rabbit Problem (2009)
- Blue Chameleon (2010)
- Cave Baby (2010), written by Julia Donaldson
- Wolf Won't Bite! (2011)
- Again! (2011)
- Matilda's Cat (2 August 2012)
- Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts (2013)
- Bear and Hare: Go Fishing (2014)
- Bear and Hare: Snow! (2014)
- Bear and Hare: Where's Bear? (2015)
- Bear and Hare: Mine! (2016)
- Tidy (2016)
Gravett has won annual British book awards three times.
- Wolves won the 2005 Kate Greenaway Medal[a]
- Monkey and Me won the 2007 Booktrust Best Emerging Illustrator for children up to five-years-old
- Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears won the 2008 Kate Greenaway Medal
- Runners up, etc.
- 2005, Wolves was bronze runner up for the Smarties Prize, ages 0–5 years
- 2006, Orange Pear Apple Bear made the shortlist for the Booktrust Early Years Pre-School Award
- 2007, Orange Pear Apple Bear made the Greenaway shortlist
- 2007, Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears was bronze runner up for the Smarties Prize, ages 6–8 years
- 2007, Wolves made the Hampshire Illustrated Book Award shortlist
- 2008, Monkey and Me made the Greenaway shortlist
- 2012, Wolf Won't Bite! made the Greenaway shortlist
- 2012, Matilda's Cat
- Between the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 cycles, CILIP changed its method of dating medals and shortlists, so Gravett's three-year run of recognised books is officially dated 2005, 2007, and 2008.
- "Emily Gravett: Kate Greenaway Medal Winner 2005". Press release 7 July 2006. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Emily Gravett wins 2005 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her first picture book". Press release 7 July 2006. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- "Feel the Fear and Win It Anyway... : Emily Gravett scoops second CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal". Press release 26 June 2008. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- (Greenaway Winner 2005). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- (Greenaway Winner 2008). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Gravett, Emily". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Emily Gravett: Kate Greenaway Medal Winner 2008". Press release 26 June 2008. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Formats and Editions of Cave baby". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
- "Award-winning book illustrator reveals her secret: rat pee". Charlotte Higgins. The Guardian 26 June 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-01. Online this is accompanied by a gallery of spreads from six picture books.
- Wolves (first U.S. edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- "Matilda's Cat" (first edition; hardcover). Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- "Booktrust Early Years Awards 2007". Booktrust. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
- Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-14. Quote: "media releases relating to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards in date order." (2002 to 2006 releases concern 2001 to 2005 awards.)
- Emilygravett.com, archived 2011-01-28