David Elliot is an award-winning author and illustrator of children's books. He worked for many years as an art teacher, but it was living in a zoo keeper's cottage which led Elliot to a career in illustration. He has won many awards for his work, including the Unilever/Choysa Award and Best Picture Book in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. His work ranges from the light-hearted to a darker, almost gothic style, and has appeared in numerous exhibitions around New Zealand. Elliot was awarded both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for his picture book Snark (Otago University Press, 2016)
Photo credit: Deane Patterson
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- David Elliot's website
- David Elliot featured in the School Library Journal (USA) Best Books of 2013 list
- Interview with Christchurch City Library
- Listen to David read Bumblebee Grumblebee to his granddaughter
Elliot, David (1952 –) is an award-winning author and illustrator of children's books.
His evocative illustrations range from the light-hearted moa in gumboots who introduces 100 New Zealand Poems for Children (1999) and the 'flying kiwis' in Another 100 New Zealand Poems for Children (2001) to the darker, at times surreal tones of Janet Frame’s Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun (2005) and Lewis Carroll’s Hunting of the Snark (2006).
'I’ve always liked fantasy that has an edge and a darkness to it,' says Elliot. 'It makes images more important and gives them a strength and gravity.'
A graduate of the Christchurch College of Education, Elliot holds a Fine Arts Diploma from the University of Canterbury. He has worked for many years as an art teacher, both in schools and in courses for adults.
But it was a stint living in the gatekeeper's cottage at Edinburgh Zoo that Elliot describes as the 'pivotal experience' which led him to a career in illustration. Wandering the zoo at night, even getting to 'scratch the leopard's back,' Elliot began drawing the animals, and 'playing around on the edges of illustration.'
The picture books written and illustrated by David Elliot include Arthur's Star (1986); Dragon Tangle (1994); Sydney and the Seamonster (1999); Sydney and the Whalebird (2001); Pigtails the Pirate (2002); The Moon and Farmer McPhee (2010) by David Elliot and Margaret Mahy; and Henry’s Map (2013).
For Dragon Tangle, Elliot was awarded the Unilever/Choysa Award in 1991, and the book was a finalist for the 1995 Russell Clark Award. Sydney and the Seamonster won an Honour Award at the 2000 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.Sydney and the Whalebird was Highly Commended for best use of illustration in the 2001 Spectrum Print Book Design Awards.
Pigtails the Pirate (2002) won Best Picture Book at the 2003 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, was shortlisted for the 2003 LIANZA Russell Clark Award, and was also listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Picture Book.
A new edition of Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun, written by Janet Frame and illustrated by David Elliot, won the 2006 Spectrum Print Book Design Award for Best Children's Book.
Elliot has illustrated numerous children's books, stories and poems by other authors. He has illustrated books by local authors, including Joy Cowley, Jack Lasenby, Margaret Mahy and Pauline Cartwright and international authors, including books by UK writer, Brian Jacques (author of the Redwall series), and USA writers, TA Barron (Great Tree of Avalon series) and John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice and The Brotherband Chronicles).
The Moon and Farmer McPhee (2010) by David Elliot and Margaret Mahy won Best Picture Book and Book of the Year at the 2011 New Zealand Children's Book Awards and was included in the 2012 IBBY Honour List.
The Word Witch, by Margaret Mahy and David Elliot, edited by Tessa Duder, was released by HarperCollins in 2010. The book was a finalist in the Picture Book category of the 2010 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and was included in the 2014 IBBY Honour List.
His illustrations have appeared in numerous exhibitions around New Zealand and in 2014 his work was featured alongside that of other New Zealand artists in the ‘Downunder Uncovered’ exhibition in Darmstadt, Germany.
His picture book, Henry’s Map (2013), is his first book (both written and illustrated) to be published in the USA. The book received critical acclaim and has been listed among the School Library Journal's Best Books List for 2013.
Elliot was the inaugural recipient of the 2011 Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award, presented by The Arts Foundation of New Zealand. In 2014 David Elliot received the Storylines Margaret Mahy Award in recognition of his lifetime achievement in children’s writing and illustration.
In 2015, Elliot released a companion volume to Henry’s Map called Henry’s Stars, which is about Henry’s discovery within the constellations of the sky, what the other farm animals see, and the shiftiness of perception.
Snark (Otago University Press, 2016) is a children's book inspired by the verse of Lewis Carroll. It won both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was praised by the judging panel convenor Pam Jones for its “rich imagery, with compelling storytelling. It draws readers into the tale of Lewis Carroll’s poetry like never before…” In a review for Booklist, Michael Cart described the book as “...beautifully designed and splendidly illustrated… The result is an irresistible invitation to imagination that will delight readers of all ages.”
In 2022, Elliot's board book for young children, Bumblebee Grumblebee, was published by Gecko Press.
Updated July 2022.