Children's Authors/Demi

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Biographical Information[edit | edit source]

Demi was born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt on September 2, 1942 to a father who was an architect and actor and a mother who was an artist. Her mother had a great influence on her early childhood by introducing her to many different artists and artistic styles. Demi attended college in Mexico, Rhode Island and Los Angeles. In 1963 she completed her Master's Degree at the University of Baroda.[1]

Demi earned her nickname as a young child when her father started calling her Demi because she was half the size of her sister. Demi loves to travel and her experiences in different countries have added to the authenticity of her books. She gets much of the inspiration for her stories from her husband Tze-Hsi Huang who shares with her traditional Chinese stories he heard growing up. In keeping with those traditions Demi uses traditional ingredients for her paints which include pine soot, umber, oyster shells and iron oxide. She often paints on silk and uses powdered jade in her paints for good fortune. Demi often paints the illustrations without doing a rough sketch, preferring to use her paintings after completing them for the first time. [2]

Demi has written and illustrated books about folk tales from several countries including China, Turkey and India and recently began a series of books about famous people in history. One of her most recent books is about Mother Theresa and is full of her usual beautiful, vibrant illustrations. [3]

Demi currently lives with her husband in Yarrow Point, Washington.[4]

Books of Interest[edit | edit source]

Demi's illustrations are beautiful and vibrant. Most of her books are illustrated in the same style, which incorporates themes, colors and traditional elements from the culture she is writing about. Demi writes in two distinct genres, one of which is Folk Tales and the other is Biographies. The Magic Boat, The Empty Pot and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush are all traditional folk tales from China. One Grain of Rice and The Hungry Coat are traditional folk tales from India and Turkey. The illustrations from these books are all similar and the folk tales all include a moral lesson to be learned by the end of the tale. Her other style of writing is Biography. She has written books about such notable people as The Dalai Lama, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and Mother Theresa. Her illustrations in these books are just as vivid and striking as in her folk tales. Demi is a master of creating a feeling for the country and culture that she is writing about. Her books are enjoyable to read and her illustrations are beautiful and engaging.

The Magic Boat A traditional Chinese folk tale about good and evil. A young boy named Chang rescues an old man from drowning and receives a magic boat in return. Throughout the story Chang uses the boat to help others until a wicked man named Ying steals the boat. The book is full of rich and beautiful illustrations in a traditional Chinese style. Demi has captured the classic struggle between good and evil, while at the same time including many traditional Chinese elements. This story will draw readers in with its brilliant illustrations and timeless story about good conquering evil. It is especially powerful for young readers who can identify with the youthful hero. [5]

The Empty Pot Ping is a young boy who loves to plant and nurture flowers. When the emperor of China has a contest to see who will become the next emperor, Ping joins the other children in the kingdom to try and grow the most beautiful flower. Demi once again uses beautiful illustrations to weave a wondrous tale about hard work and honesty. She blends traditional Chinese artistry with classic Chinese themes. Readers will find themselves cheering for Ping as he makes his presentation to the Emperor. [6]

One Grain of Rice Rani, a young girl in India, uses math to outwit an evil raja. When given her choice of reward, she asks for one grain of rice which is then doubled each day for 30 days. Her clever use of mathematics helps to feed her country. Demi combines breathtaking illustrations with practical math skills to create a lively and entertaining story. Children will be amazed as they watch the grains of rice grow throughout the book.[7]

The Hungry Coat This folk tale from Turkey tells of a man invited to a feast at a friend's house. When he arrives in his dirty and tattered coat he is shunned and ignored by the host and other guests. The man leaves, changes and returns to the feast. He then begins acting strangely by feeding food to his coat. This story is full of interesting vocabulary and striking illustrations that quietly underscore the lesson of not judging others. Readers will be delighted as Nasrettin feeds many fun and interesting foods to his coat.[8]

Liang and the Magic Paintbrush Liang is a young boy who loves to paint. Unfortunately he is poor and can't afford to buy supplies. When he receives a magic paintbrush his paintings begin to come to life. When a greedy emperor discovers Liang's special gift, it causes problems for the young artist and Liang must work quickly to outsmart the wicked man. Demi uses vibrant colors and skillful artistry to bring Liang's paintings to life. She incorporates many aspects of Chinese literature including cranes and serpents. Readers will long for Liang's ability to bring paintings to life and will identify with his struggle to use his art to help others.[9]

The Dalai Lama This book is a biography of the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. It takes the reader through the life of the Dalai Lama from the age of two to adulthood. Demi mixes the political and religious nature of the role of Dalai Lama while telling the story of a man in a unique position. She weaves pieces into the story from Chinese and Tibetan life and her illustrations capture the feel of living in a beautiful and remote country. Readers will appreciate the qualities of the Dalai Lama and come to understand some of the hardships undertaken by religious leaders in defense of their cause.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

[3] Book review from the School Library Journal

[4] Official author's page at Simon and Schuster

[5] Demi, (1990). The Magic Boat. 115 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011. Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

[6] Demi, (1990). The Empty Pot. 115 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011. Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

[7] Demi, (1997). One Grain of Rice. 557 Broadway, New York, New York, 10012. Scholastic Press'

[8] Demi, (2004). The Hungry Coat. New York, New York. McElderry Books, a division of Simon and Schuster.'

[9] Demi, (1988). Liang and the Magic Painbrush. 115 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011. Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

[10] Demi, (1998). The Dalai Lama. 115 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011. Henry Holt and Company, LLC.