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Kriegler, Lyn
Writer's File

Lyn Kriegler

Kriegler, Lyn
In brief

Lyn Kriegler is a book illustrator, scriptwriter and oral storyteller. Originally from the United States, her career as a staff artist and art director saw her work for a variety of organisations such as Mademoiselle, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post. In 1974 Kriegler immigrated to New Zealand and has since illustrated 22 picture books, seven chapter books and 25 readers. In 2006 she illustrated Margaret Mahy’s Family Surprises, and more recently she has written her own book, Mister Minty (illustrated by Blair Sayer). She is available to visit schools as part of our Writers in Schools programme and can lead Professional Development sessions for teachers.



Kriegler, Lyn (1949 –) is an illustrator, scriptwriter and storyteller.

Lyn Kriegler was born in upstate New York and educated in the United States. Kriegler was originally trained by her father as an engraver. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1971. Throughout her career Kriegler has worked as a staff artist and art director. Her career has seen her work for such varied organisations as Mademoiselle and The New Yorker. She worked on the Dick Cavett Show, and the Washington Post.

In 1974 Kriegler immigrated to New Zealand. She continued her work as a staff artist until 1976, when she began to work as a freelance book illustrator, oral storyteller and scriptwriter.

Kriegler has illustrated 22 picture books, seven chapter books and 25 readers. Her publications include: The Magpies Said: Stories and Poems from New Zealand by Dorothy Butler (Kestrel Books, Penguin UK, 1980), A Bundle of Birds by Dorothy Butler (Reed, 1986), Come Back Ginger by Dorothy Butler (Reed, 1986), Rosie Moonshine by Anthony Holcroft (Century Hutchinson, 1988), Lulu by Dorothy Butler (Hodder & Stoughton UK, 1990), A Pocket Full of Posies: A History of Nursery Rhymes, jointly illustrated with Marie Low, Ian McNee, Philip Webb, Bryan Pollard and written by Alan Trussell-Cullen (Shortland Publications, 1989), Bears, Bears, Bears by Dorothy Butler (Penguin, 1994), Higgledy Piggledy Hobbledy Hoy by Dorothy Butler (Grenwillow Books, US, 1991), Lucky for Some by Vivien Mulgrew (Century Hutchinson, 1994), Chen-Li and The River Spirit by Anthony Holcroft (Hodder and Stoughton, 1991), Cat Concert (Shortland Publications, 1991), By Jingo! by Dorothy Butler (Reed, 1993), Where’s Sylvester’s Bed? by Joanne Balasek (Lands End Publishing, 1993), What Peculiar People! by Dorothy Butler (Reed, 1994), Kangaroo Bill by Diana Noonan (Reed, 1994), Farm Boy, City Girl by Dorothy Butler (Ashton Scholastic, 1995), Just a Dog by Dorothy Butler (Reed, 1995), Hector: An Old Bear by Dorothy Butler (Penguin, 1995), My Old Cat by Bob Eschenbach (Lands End Publishing, 1996), Hemi and the Shortie Pyjamas by Joan de Hamel (Picture Books NZ, 1996).

In 1981Kriegler wrote and Illustrated The Legend of the Kiwi (Alister Taylor). It is the retelling of a Maori legend, and was edited by Dorothy Butler.

In 1983 Kriegler returned to the States with her husband and while there, trained as a primary school teacher. As well as teaching, she also began to exhibit and sell her paintings. In 1987 Kriegler returned to New Zealand. Today she lives in Karekare.

In 2006 Kriegler illustrated several books, inlcuding Family Surprises (Puffin) by Margaret Mahy, and Davy's Ducks: A Tale of Old New Zealand (Reed). She also wrote Mister Minty (Gilt Edge Press), illustrated by Blair Sayer.

She has illustrated SEADOG - A tale of old New Zealand, also by author Dorothy Butler (Reed Publishers 2007).

Professor Pungwit and the Pungapeople (Hachette New Zealand, 2009) was written by Barry and Martin Crump, and illustrated by Kreigler. This collaboration occurred as a direct result of a Writers in Schools visit by Kreigler to Martin's daughter's school. She has also illustrated Chief Awateri and the Pungapeople (Hachette 2009), as well as The Ghost Tree and other stories, written by Anthony Holcroft (Penguin NZ, 2009).

Working with Dorothy Butler again, she illustrated Farmer Beetroot's Birthday (Duck Creek Press 2010).

In 2011 she illustrated Christmas in the Bush written by Lindy Kelly (HarperCollins 2011).

In 2013 Kriegler took part in producing the short film, Khushi, with Mike O’Neill. The film sought to raise awareness in Raglan of the Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, which is a trust set up to support senior Indian and South Asian people living in the Auckland region. The film received a certificate of recognition for its high-quality calibre at the Raglan Arts Film Festival Awards in 2013.

In 2014 she also contributed to the illustrating of Rising in Love: My Wild and Crazy Ride to Here and Now, with Amma, the Hugging Saint by Ram Das Batchelder (John Hunt Publishing).


Kriegler participates in the Writers in Schools programme. She is available for school visits, and will lead workshops by arrangement, and supernatural tales workshops are a specialty. She is willing to visit any age group and is prepared to discuss where ideas come from, what made her want to become an author/illustrator, how she learned to tell stories, and how to draw. Her preferred class size is 30-70 students, but she can speak to up to 200 in one session. She is also available for Professional Development sessions for teachers.

Please continue down the page to see answers to a list of questions provided by school students:

Kapai: Kids Authors’ Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
I live with my husband Tom in a converted stable on a 10 acre herb farm in KareKare, near Piha, on Auckland's wild west coast. Above us on a ridge are many old pine trees, and the wind roars and murmurs in them throughout the day and night. We look out over the Tasman Sea, and can see the weather coming from many miles away.

What books do you read?
I read a wide variety of books; I like folktales from all cultures, especially Asia, India, Maori and Old European legends. I also like historical records, peoples letters and diaries, poetry, biographies and autobiographies, and richly descriptive writing of all kinds, such as the short stories and essays of the French writer Colette.

Who is your favourite writer?
Colette, a much-loved French writer who lived in the 1900s.

How do you think up your ideas?
I get ideas from my everyday life, and my imagination. For example, my brother-in-law Joe, in America, told me that snakes down there in Virginia are called Jake No-Shoulders by the local African-Americans. I immediately visualised a big ol' giant snake hiding in a ripe blackberry bush, and a little family of kids who go out blackberrying. So I wrote it as a picture book and called it Jake No-Shoulders. I like going to museums and historical places; I can often find something there that would make a good story, as in Come Back Ginger - A Tale of Old New Zealand by Dorothy Butler, which I illustrated. I found the original fragment of the true story typed on a little index card in the Russell Museum in the Bay of Islands, next to a stuffed bird in a case from the 1800s. Currently I'm writing about three cats in my neighbourhood, one of whom, a huge bullying old fatcat called Peanut, is spoiling the fun for the other cats! I call him the PuddyBullyBoo.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
Inspiration - when suddenly an idea hits you, like a lightbulb going on, and I feel enthusiastic and happy about going the distance, putting in the time and the love which is esesential for creating a book. Books take time, they don't happen overnight, and take a lot of hard work sometimes, but to hold the book in your hands after it has been published is always a nice feeling. Most people who write and illustrate children's books do it because they love it, not because it will earn them a lot of money. Also, its so much fun to go to schools and meet kids who are enthusiastic about writing and illustrating. I really enjoy sharing what I've learned about these arts with children.

Questions from Primary School Students

What sort of pets do you have?
I have five cats. Four are of the LaPerm breed from the USA. They are more like dogs - very, very friendly, and these cats follow me everywhere. Their names are Hari, Kashi, Naga, and Bu Bu The Evil Queen. The fifth cat is a stray, a big black bear of a cat named Blackie. He is too shy to come inside, but spends his entire life gazing at me through the window with his great, glowing golden eyes. This year I began working with Barry Crump's son, Martin Crump, illustrating Barry's 'Lost stories' - stories for children which he had written but not shown to a publisher before his death in 1996.

What is your favourite colour?
Lavender blue

What is your favourite food?
Watermelon, peaches, strawberries and cherries

What is your favourite movie?
The Polar Express

What is your favourite game?
Playing with Ikey Spikey!

What is the most fun thing about being an author?
Getting to meet kids in schools, talking about what they like to write about, and sharing my skills

How do you make books?
If I am illustrating someone else's story, I first read the story at least 10 times out loud. Then I go to a quiet place where I can close my eyes and focus my attention on the pictures I can see forming in my imagination as a result of having read that story over and over. I then start making little thumbnail sketches of how the illustrations could look. Then I make bigger layouts and plan the pictures in more detail, using lots of little drawings which I cut out and piece together like a big jigsaw puzzle. Then I trace the whole thing and transfer it onto good watercolour paper, then I am ready to do the final artwork. With writing a story, I do the same thing; find a quiet place with my little notebook in hand, close my eyes and begin hearing in my imagination bits and pieces of the story. I write them all down (sometimes I get pieces of the story in the middle of the night, or after a dream, I keep a little notebook beside my bed as well, and a tiny flashlight!

Where do you go for your holidays?
Opononi in the Hokianga, Taumarunui in the King Country, Northland, and India.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
I put some cherry bombs (tiny red firecrackers) under each leg of a teacher's chair. When she sat down, the cherry bombs went off bang, burning tiny holes in the floor. Wow, was she mad! I did a lot of lines for that one.

Questions from Secondary School Students

How did you get started?
I went to Otorohanga in the Waitomo area, and visited their Kiwi house in 1974. There was a tiny paragraph on a brochure there, about the legend of the kiwi. I began working on that as a retelling of the legend, illustrated it completely from start to finish, showed it to a New Zealand publisher who agreed to publish it straightaway. That was my first book, The Legend of the Kiwi. Then I had the great good fortune to meet internationally known expert on children's literature and author, New Zealand writer Dorothy Butler. She was looking for an illustrator for her anthology, The Magpies Said: Stories and Poems from New Zealand. The assignment was to illustrate stories by many wonderful New Zealand writers, some of whom were just getting started at the time: Anthony Holcroft, Tessa Duder, Sam Hunt, Witi Ihimaera, Joy Cowley, and Margaret Mahy, to name a few.

Who inspired you when you were getting started?

Dorothy Butler, Anthony Holcroft, Sam Hunt and Maori legends.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
Above all, write, write, write; every day if you can. Be persistent! Many writers go through criticism, rejection slips, and negative comment before they break through into print. See it as strengthening your character by not giving up in the face of criticism, or other people laughing at you, or predicting that you won't make it, or won't make any money! Believe in yourself: you CAN do it And one day other people, like publishers, will start believing in you too. I taught myself - you are your own best teacher when it comes to writing, but you have to practice, practice, practice, as with anything if you want to become good at it.

Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
Its as easy or as hard as YOU make it. the more stories and ideas you have out there under submission with magazines and book publishers the better your chances. Its like long line fishing--have lots of hooks baited with good stories, and reel them out, sending them out to as many publishers as you can, including those overseas. Do'nt be shy about it--you are as good as anyone else!

What were you like as a teenager?
Kind of shy and geeky. I spent lot of time on my own, in my room or in the art room after school, drawing and writing, and going for long walks down by the James River in Virginia, USA, where I grew up. When I got to university, I came out of my shell. I was studying what I loved, illustration, creative writing, painting, sculpture, craft and art history. It gave me the discipline and self-confidence to go on to make a career out of my skills.