Authors & Events
Tao Nyeu is the creator of Wonder Bear, which won the Founder’s Award from the Society of Illustrators and a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award Honor; and Bunny Days, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and a Golden Kite Award Honor. Tao was born in Ohio and grew up in New York. She earned a BFA from Cornell University and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. She now lives in Southern California with her children.
What inspired you to create Wonder Bear?
Wonder Bear was my thesis project for my Illustration MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I knew that I was going to do a children’s book and I had a few ideas in mind as well as an affinity for drawing bears. One day I came upon a very odd looking gummy bear. It had the look of a bear that had magical powers. It was spooky so I ate it. That led to the development of a story about a bear who performs magic. A magician of course has a magician’s hat. Since this bear is no ordinary magician he pulls a plethora of monkeys out of his hat, not a rabbit.
The title, Wonder Bear, is a play on the German word wunderbar which means “wonderful”.
What do you like best about illustrating your own imaginative ideas?
What I love best about illustrating my own stories is the absolute freedom of expression. It is so much fun to create a universe and populate it with funny characters and think about how they spend their days and what their surroundings look like. I enjoy the challenge of finding stories in these worlds and experimenting with how to illustrate the pictures.
Which illustrators influenced you as an early reader?
My favorite books as a child were by Richard Scarry, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss. I loved how their animal worlds and characters paralleled the funny things humans do.
What was your childhood ambition?
When I was very young I thought that I would become a scientist. My idea of what a scientist was went no further than imagining a person in a white lab coat and goggles standing in front of a rack of test tubes. That image alone was enough to satisfy myself that I knew what I was going to do with my life. Knowing that my future was secure, I was at ease to spend my days drawing and playing.
Which adjectives best describe Wonder Bear?
Imaginative and free. I hope that the story will inspire readers to think that anything is possible.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my second book, also to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers. It’s about a group of bunnies who get into unfortunate situations when they cross paths with a pair of goats. Luckily there is a kind and wise bear to make everything better. This book will also be silk screened.
What do you like to do when you’re not creating artwork?
So many things! Reading, eating, knitting, crocheting, baking, hiking, surfing, skiing, shopping, traveling, visiting museums and gardens. Basically I like to enjoy life and everything I see and do eventually makes it into my artwork in one way or another.
Visit other sites in the Penguin Random House Network
Stay in Touch