ABOUT DEBRA FRASIER, AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR

Debra Frasier photo collage
Debra Frasier:
author,
illustrator,
paddler,
storyteller,
snow shoveler,
water lover...

Detailed Biography

Debra Frasier baby photoI was born on April 3, 1953, in Vero Beach, Florida, the very town where my great-grandfather had surveyed the original streets in the early 1920s. My grandmother was a schoolteacher in Vero. She rowed a boat to an island every Monday morning to teach in the one-room schoolhouse. She’d stay all week and then, each Friday, she would row back home. My mother was also born in Vero Beach, so my family has been walking the same stretch of shore for generations.

 

Debra FrasierMy brother, two stepsisters and I grew up in a remote house that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, very near my grandmother’s old schoolhouse. The four of us spent our weekends and summers swimming in the ocean and collecting treasures on the beach. Even when I was quite young, I loved to create all kinds of artworks, often piecing together sculptures from bits of wood we’d found on our walks. My mother says I used miles and miles of Scotch tape to "make things," as I used to call it.

 

In 1976 I graduated with a degree in design from Florida State University. I went on to attend Penland School of Crafts, in North Carolina, where I made large "costume puppets." The largest one I constructed was sixty feet long, and eight people had to climb inside to make it move. Later I was commissioned by various cities to build wind sculptures. These were made of steel cables, with sailcloth shapes attached, and were designed to respond to wind.

 

In 1984 I married and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of the northern prairie, where it was colder than anything I had ever experienced. Can you imagine what my first winter was like? I had to learn about boots, snow shovels, hats, gloves, scarves, snow tires, icy roads – and heating bills! Now, many winters later, I also know what fat snowflakes look like falling across the glow of a streetlight, the comfort of a fire on a freezing cold night, and the exuberant feeling that comes with a tulip-bursting spring. I still miss the heat, the palm trees, and the intense rains of the tropics, so I often return to Florida. I keep my kayak there, and whenever I can I paddle out on the Indian River Lagoon, or go walking along the beach, finding things. I hope my books reflect how much I love the natural world around us.

 

I have always liked to write letters, and people often would say to me, "Why don’t you write books?" My first one, On the Day You Were Born, came unexpectedly as the result of a difficult pregnancy with our only child, Calla. Early in the pregnancy, when things were at their darkest, I asked a nurse at the hospital to bring me some paper so I could write down all the things on our earth that would welcome my daughter, if she would just get here. Later, after her safe arrival, I took this jumble of words and scribbled drawings and began to turn them into the book that became On the Day You Were Born.

 

Now I write and illustrate books full-time. My pictures are collages, so I am still putting bits of things together, just as I did as a young girl. I usually write the text first, and then create the pictures. But with Out of the Ocean, my story about growing up beside the sea, I wrote and made pictures at the same time, and each helped the other along.

 

I carry a small journal with me everywhere I go, and it acts as my "butterfly net," helping me to capture ideas that fly through my brain. The idea for Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster came along after my daughter said one night, "Mom, today I figured out that miscellaneous is not a person." I chuckled for days, made a note in my journal, and slowly built the story around her wonderful mistake.

 

A sequel to that book grew differently—for seven years I collected a large picture journal of all things pertaining to water. Photographs, poems, writings, sculptures, copies of science text were all entered in this scrapbook. Slowly a series of facts began to shape themselves into what became the picture book, The Incredible Water Show. This is the wonder of making a picture book—sometimes a story begins with words, and sometimes the inspiration comes from a collection of pictures. Now I am trying a very different kind of journal where I take trips in my canoe and then share each river adventure on my website. Visit River Journal to see what it looks like. Maybe someday it will become a book!

 

I always write and illustrate my books so each are years in the making. They also include:

 

A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake follows our planet’s circle around the sun as we collect the “ingredients” to our birthday cakes: 365 sunrises and a robin’s song for starters!  For A Fabulous Fair Alphabet I took photos of signs at the Minnesota State Fair and the Texas State Fair and collaged those letters into an eye-popping day of visiting the fair, A to Z. 

 

SPIKE, Ugliest Dog in the Universe, brought me a bedraggled abandoned dog who wants to find home and love. He thinks changing himself is the only way and takes lessons from—a cat! The book is collaged from worn blue jeans to match Spike’s character. (Fall, 2013)

 

All of my books have grown far beyond the covers … Watch the Miss Alaineus Vocabulary Parade slide show to see the costumes students have created around the USA, and visit the Alphabet Fair slide show where all the visitors win words. Each of my books has a Book Event to help weave it into your community. This has become my real work question: How do we grow our stories from the lift of a cover into events in our lives? I am constantly learning ways to help us gather words, respond creatively, and build community. If you try any of these Book Event project, be in touch with me. I’d love to hear how the story unfolded.

 

—Debra Frasier

 

Short Biography

Debra Frasier is the author and illustrator of many award-winning picture books includingOn the Day You Were Born andMiss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster. In addition to her well-known talks on creative process, Debra’s innovative "Book Events" build a community’s creativity through projects that start with a story. Visit debrafrasier.com to see how a parade of words can make you laugh, how the alphabet can transform a school carnival into a Word Event, or how a talking dog can make your heart swell and teach first-person writing at the same time!

 

Bibliography: Written and Illustrated

SPIKE, Ugliest Dog in the Universe, Beach Lane 2013

A Fabulous Fair Alphabet, Beach Lane 2010
A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake, Harcourt 2006
The Incredible Water Show, Harcourt 2004
Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster, Harcourt 2000
Out of the Ocean, Harcourt 1998
On the Day You Were Born, A Photo Journal, Harcourt 2001
On the Day You Were Born, Harcourt 1991

 

Illustrated

The Animal That Drank Up Sound, by William Stafford, Harcourt, 1992
We Got Here Together, by Kim Stafford, Harcourt, 1994
In the Space of the Sky, by Richard Lewis, Harcourt, 2002

 

Video

On the Day You Were Born, score by Steve Heitzeg,
Minnesota Orchestra, NotesAlive!

Short Answers to Big Questions, The Story of Making Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster.

 

Biographies for Download

 

Media Bio

(Same as above)

  Student Version   Adult Version

Complete Résumé

Debra Frasier

Author & Illustrator of Children’s Picture Books
web address: debrafrasier.com

 

RÉSUMÉ

1953 Born, April 3, Vero Beach, Florida
1976 BA, Florida State University
1977-80
1981-83
Penland School of Crafts, North Carolina
Also: Aspen Theatre Institute, summer workshops,
Institute de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
   

Books Written and Illustrated

1991
On the Day You Were Born
1998
Out of the Ocean
2000
Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster
2004
The Incredible Water Show
2007
A Birthday Cake Is No Ordinary Cake (Fall 2006)
  (note: the five books above published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Inc.)
2010 A Fabulous Fair Alphabet
2013 SPIKE, Ugliest Dog in the Universe
  (note: the two books above published by Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schuster)
   
   

Books Illustrated

1992
The Animal That Drank Up Sound, by William Stafford
1994
We Got Here Together, by Kim Stafford
2002
In the Space of the Sky, by Richard Lewis
  (note: all books published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Inc.)
   

Video

1997 Creative Consultant and Director of Animation for On the Day You Were Born, the Symphony, produced by the Minnesota Orchestra NotesAlive! brand and winner of the American Library Association’s Carnegie Award for Best Video for Children.
   

Selected Sculpture Awards

1980
National Endowment for the Arts Project Grant
1982
Art Park Wind Sculpture Commission, Buffalo, NY
1983
Walker Arts Center, Art-in-the-Park installation, Minneapolis, MN
1984
Three Rivers Arts Festival Sculpture Award Commission
1986
Pris de Paris, American Center, Sculpture Residency, Cite des Arts -1987
   

Selected Book Awards

On the Day You Were Born: 1991
 
Parent’s Choice Gold Award
 
Hungry Mind Review Book of Distinction
 
Notable Children’s Trade Book in Language Arts
 
NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children
 
Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
 
ABC Children’s Bookseller’s Choice
 
Reading Rainbow, Feature Selection
   
Out of the Ocean: 1998
 
Southeast Booksellers Association Children’s Book Gold Award
 
Minnesota Book Award for Illustration
 
ABA’s Pick of the Lists
 
National Parenting Publication Honor Award
   
Miss Alaineus, A Vocabulary Disaster: 2000
 
International Reading Association Children’s Choice Award
 
International Reading Association Teacher’s Choice Award
 
Offspring Magazine, Best Book of the Year
 
Oprah’s Summer Reading List Selection
   
The Animal That Drank Up Sound: 1992
 
American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists
 
Book of the Month Selection
 
American Institute for Graphic Arts, Best of 1992 Selection
   
We Got Here Together: 1994
  American Booksellers Association Pick of the Lists
   

Career Honors

1997 Selected by the American Booksellers for Children (ABC), campaign artist and spokesperson, national READ WITH A CHILD campaign
2001 Selected as BookExpo Children’s Book Dinner Honored Author, celebrating the tenth anniversary of On the Day You Were Born, Chicago, American Booksellers for Children
2010 Minnesota State Fair Author in Residence, founder of the Alphabet Forest Literacy Project, 2010-ongoing
2010 Loft McKnight Award in Children’s Literature
   

Archive Research Collections

Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota
   

Download a PDF version of Debra's Complete Resume.

Portraits for Media

Debra Frasier   Debra Frasier   Debra Frasier   Debra Frasier © James Henkel
Web 400 px wide   Web 400 px wide   Web
215 px wide
  Web127 px wide
Print8 x 8.6 in   Print4 x 2.6 in   Print1.6 x 2.1 in   Print 1.7 x 2.5
            Photo credit:
James Henkel

 

Photos of Debra Frasier are provided here for use in promoting professional and educational events. Click on your choice of download using the buttons below each photo. The selected image will then open in a new window where you can use the menu, Ctrl-S, or the download button to copy the image to your computer or device. You can optionally view the complete directory of portraits here.

Book Cover Images

Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe   Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster   On the Day You Were Born   A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake
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A Fabulous Fair Alphabet   The Incredible Water Show   Out of the Ocean   The Animal that Drank Up Sound
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Small   Small   Small   Small
Medium   Medium   Medium   Medium
Large   Large   Large   Large

 

Images of Debra Frasier's book covers are copyrighted by the publishers and provided here for use in promoting professional and educational events. Click on your choice of download using the buttons below each photo. The selected image will then open in a new window where you can use the menu, Ctrl-S, or the download button to copy the image to your computer or device. You can optionally view the complete directory of book cover images here.