Elisa Kleven

I’ve always loved creating little imaginary worlds. Though I didn’t study art formally, I was fortunate to have a mother who was a printmaker and a grandmother who was a sculptor. So I had lots of encouragement—and art supplies—while growing up. When I was a child, I was not as interested in drawing as I was in making little people and animals to play with. Paper was magical—I could create characters on it, cut them out, and lose myself for hours making up stories about them. I also loved creating dolls and creatures out of clay. I put together an enormous dollhouse and furnished it with all sorts of recycled stuff: lacy rugs made from paper doilies, paintings made from postage stamps, cradles made from walnut shells, a garden of flowered cloth.

Until I was seventeen, I lived in Los Angeles. Then I left to study at U.C. Berkeley, where I received a B.A. in English and later a teaching credential. After reading to young children as a teacher for several years, I had a strong desire to make my own books. Picture books combine what I love most—art, imagination, and children—and creating them is endlessly challenging and full of possibilities.

Most of my illustrations are done in mixed-media collage—a flexible, playful medium. I snip and glue old scraps into new shapes: a snippet of wool becomes a lion’s mane; a scrap of lace becomes a curtain. And I’m still making characters out of paper and paint, giving them stories and worlds.

I live in Albany, California, with my husband, Paul; daughter, Mia; son, Ben; and our young dogs and cat, who all inspire me. I hope that my books will inspire children and their own powerful impulses to imagine and play.


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Elisa Kleven

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by the author

The Weaver

Thacher Hurd; pictures by Elisa Kleven
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

As the sun rises, the weaver begins her work, spinning thread, dying it, and then weaving it into a cloth along with the signs of love and friendship she sees...


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The Apple Doll

Elisa Kleven
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Lizzy loves the big apple tree in her yard more than anything. So when the first day of school comes, she picks a beautiful apple, turns it into a makeshift...


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