Jane Breskin Zalben
author / artist / illustrator
Jane Breskin Zalben began drawing seriously at the age of five. To encourage her artistic talent, her mother took her for weekly art lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her father called her drawings "love pictures," and in second grade Jane began to explore her gift for writing by composing poetry for the class newspaper. It is no wonder that today Jane Breskin Zalben is a well-known author and illustrator who has published about fifty books for young readers.
Jane Breskin Zalben was born in New York City, where she attended the High School of Music and Art. She received a B.A. in art from Queens College, then went on to study lithography at the Pratt Graphics Center. She now lives on Long Island, New York with her husband, Steven.
Ms. Zalben began her career as a graphic designer and worked for several New York publishing houses, including Scribner's, where she was the art director of children's books. She still prefers to be involved in every stage of a book's production. A book designer as well as an artist, Jane Breskin Zalben is as concerned with type and layout as she is with illustration. "It is my job," she says, "to bring words to life and to add another dimension to them."
Ms. Zalben has been involved in many workshops, including "A Sense of Wonderment: Children's Book Illustration" at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, New York, and exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Justin Schiller Gallery (where she was given a show of her work along with Maurice Sendak), Every Picture Tells a Story, Elizabeth Stone Gallery, Bush Gallery, and the American Institute of Graphics Art Show. She was a writer/artist-in-residence at Vassar's Publishing Institute and was on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York City for eighteen years, where she taught courses in the illustration, design, and writing of children's books. She was a recent chair of the Society of Illustrator's The Original Art Exhibition.
Jane Breskin Zalben's acclaimed picture books and novels explore basic issues of friendship, family, self-reliance, and inner strength. It's obvious that Jane Breskin Zalben is passionate about her work-- so much so that she dates the events in her life by what book she was working on at the time. However, she believes that her family is even more important; Beni's First Chanukah, the first in a series of Jewish Holiday books for children, was inspired by and dedicated to her sons, Alexander and Jonathan. The special times she has shared with her family motivated her to create over forty books.
Jane Breskin Zalben devotes her time to her work and to traveling around the world lecturing on children's books and encouraging children and aspiring artists and writers. I always identify with children," she says, "because I do remember."