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Barbara Reid was born in 1957 in Toronto, Ontario, and has lived there ever since. At the Ontario College of Art and Design she focused on illustration, and it was for a class assignment that she first experimented with Plasticine to make a dimensional picture. She graduated from OCAD in 1980 and began work as a freelance illustrator. After working for a variety of clients, she illustrated her first picture book in Plasticine. The New Baby Calf, by Edith Newlin Chase, was shortlisted for the Canada Council Prize for Illustration. More than twenty books later, other awards include the UNICEF Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book award, and the Elizabeth Cleaver Award. The Party, which she wrote and illustrated, won the Governor General’s Award for Illustration; Fox Walked Alone was named to the IBBY International Honour List and was a Blue Spruce Award selection. Most recently, she received Amelia Frances Howard Gibbon Award for Perfect Snow. Her books have been published in Canada, The USA, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Finland, Norway, China, Germany, Brazil, Korea, and Thailand.

Award History

Jury Citation

“Barbara Reid is recognized as one of Canada’s major literary figures. Her work, 28 books to date, has received critical acclaim both nationally and internationally. Published initially in both English and French, she has now been published in over 19 countries.

She is a trail-blazer in the development of manipulative art, and her sophisticated Plasticine illustrations capture the imagination of readers from four to ninety-four. All across Canada, when children spot the familiar Plasticine technique, they enthusiastically say, ‘Look! It’s Barbara Reid!’

What stands out in her books is the brilliant integration of text and illustration. Barbara is a visual writer, so much so that the words seem to leave the lines and become enmeshed in the art. Her text is actually an understated guide to the detailed exuberance of the pictures in such titles as Subway Mouse and Picture A Tree. At the same time Barbara’s love of language is reflected in the descriptive and alluring phrases in Fox Walked Alone, the rhyming couplets of Two by Two and the singing quality of Read Me A Book.

Barbara’s work embodies a keen sense of humour and always a child-centered perspective. In The Party the unfolding antics of the children at a backyard family gathering are a perfect vehicle for depicting the range of emotions from bored to hilariously out-of-control. The rapid-paced action in Perfect Snow explodes with multi-dimensional images, black and white inserts, crisp dialogue and a child’s love of building a ‘… totally massive, indestructible snow fortress of doom!’

Barbara Reid is a consummate artist and as she blends her artistic and literary ability, each work exudes a sense of freshness, discovery and joy.”
— 2013 Vicky Metcalf Award Jury (Ron Jobe, Susan Perren, and Joanne Schwartz)

Works recognized by WT

The Night Before Christmas

The Party

Perfect Snow

Picture a Tree

Sing a Song of Mother Goose