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Lauren A. Mills
116 Pleasant St., #405
Easthampton, MA 01027
Lauren A. Mills
Lauren A. Mills grew up in Connecticut, the fourth of five children, and spent most of her time playing in the woods trying to tame wild animals. When she was 16 she and her parents and younger brother moved to Oregon for a year and then to Minnesota. She spent summers at her grandparents' house in West Virginia and another summer at her aunt's and uncle's ranch in Montana where she learned quilt making. Later, she lived in a cabin in California and raised goats. She and her husband, author/illustrator Dennis Nolan, raised their daughter in a converted barn in western Massachusetts where they had a host of wild animal friends. Much of Mills’ own experiences found their way into her novel, Minna's Patchwork Coat and her picture book, The Rag Coat.
Lauren received a Bachelors Degree in Drawing and Painting from UC Santa Barbara and began working as a free lance Newspaper illustrator and a fashion illustrator while pursuing her dream to write and illustrate books. She earned her Masters Degree in Book Illustration from San Jose University
Lauren has illustrated several of her own stories as well as the children’s classics: At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery and Thumbelina by HC Anderson. Elfabet by Jane Yolen was her first illustrated picture book.
Awards and Honors
Mills’ debut novel, Minna’s Patchwork Coat (grades 2-7) will be published this November and is based on her picture book, The Rag Coat. The Rag Coat was Mills’ first original story and has remained in hard back since 1991 (Little, Brown). It received the Charlotte Award, thirteen state nominations, has been told over the radio, has been performed as a ballet by the University of Utah and received the Smithsonian’s “Season’s Choice” Award.
Fairy Wings–written by Lauren and co-illustrated with Dennis Nolan–won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award.
For grades 2 and up:
My PowerPoint presentation covers the step-by-step process of how my stories are conceived and how I begin the illustration process from thumbnail sketches, research, larger sketches and drawings, materials, paintings, etc. I also like to tell personal stories about myself as a child and the difficulties of following a dream as well as the importance of believing in yourself. An overview of the writing process is covered, including the importance of rewriting, and explaining what an editor does. This presentation is 45 to 60 minutes, and can be more workshop based for smaller groups.
I have also taught Art in High School (as well as at colleges and Master Programs) and can gear a lecture and/or workshop in either illustration or writing to older age groups about the process of narrative picture making and creating engaging stories.
Fees and number of presentations are negotiable but range from 2-4 presentations and $600-$1,000 for the day and may be split between schools. Skype visits are $100 each. Library visits are $400.
For areas requiring air travel, there is a two-day minimum visit. The contact host will coordinate scheduling and make hotel reservations. Author will arrange air travel, which will be reimbursed along with meals and hotel. For schools within driving distance, there is a mileage fee (50¢ per mile).
To order books through Little, Brown contact:
Minna's Patchwork Coat
Lauren A. Mills (Author & Illustrator) Reading level: 8-12 years Hardcover 288 pages Publisher: Little, Brown (November 2015) ISBN-10: 031640621X, ISBN-13: 978-0316406215
In this charming historical novel, acclaimed artist Lauren A. Mills reimagines her beloved picture book, The Rag Coat, with fifty delicate pencil illustrations and an expanded story about a resilient little girl, her patchwork coat and how the two bring a community together.
Minna and her family don't have much in their small Appalachian cabin, but "people only need people," Papa always reminds her. Unable to afford a winter coat to wear to school, she's forced to use an old feed sack to keep her warm. Then Papa's terrible cough from working in the coal mines takes him away forever, and Minna has a hard time believing that anything will be right again...until her neighbors work tirelessly to create a coat for her out of old fabric scraps. Now Minna must show her teasing classmates that her coat is more than just rags–it's a collection of their own cherished memories, each with a story to share.
• A Common Core curriculum guide for Minna's Patchwork Coat (grades 2-7) is available through Little Brown at following link:
• A Blog of the Process for Minna's Patchwork Coat is available at following link:
From School Library Journal— "An expanded, middle grade version of the author’s picture book The Rag Coat (Little, Brown, 1991). Minna’s family has it tougher than other people living in their Appalachian mountain region. Her papa, sickened from his job in the coal mines, stays home more and more frequently. Minna’s one wish is to go to school where she can make friends, but the family is too poor to afford a coat—a necessity for the harsh winter months. Her only friends are “Aunt” Nora, a Cherokee healer, and Nora’s mixed-race grandson, Lester. Aunt Nora teaches Minna about the curative powers of plants, along with lessons of Native American wisdom. In return, the eight-year-old teaches shy Lester how to read. There are no schools for people of color in the area, so it’s a risky venture. Minna’s friendship with Lester exposes her to prejudice and cruelty from the same children she hopes to befriend at school. Sadly, her beloved papa dies, and soon after, her mother must make ends meet by joining the Quilting Moms. The women create a patchwork coat for Minna, made out of scraps from everyone in the area. While they sew, they tell stories connected to each piece of fabric, describing the sorrows and joys of the locals. From these tales, Minna learns much about the children in the town. But friendship eludes her when she starts school—she is teased about her ragged clothes and her relationship with Lester. Minna hopes that bringing her new, treasured coat on Sharing Day will turn things around—her acceptance doesn’t come easily, though. Readers can immerse themselves in a culture and time where things moved at a slower pace and common sense values created from warmth and love are given room to exist and thrive. The delicate, ethereal pencil drawings provide an additional lens into this story. The emotions of the characters are sensitively rendered, and one can almost smell the pine-scented air and wood-burning fireplace. A cozy, leisurely peek into a turn-of-the century Appalachian family."
The Rag Coat
Lauren A. Mills (Author & Illustrator) Reading level: 3-6 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (September 3, 1991) ISBN-10: 0316574074, ISBN-13: 978-0316574075
With paintings that capture all the beauty of Appalachia in authentic detail, this tender story about a resourceful mountain girl's special coat will touch readers with its affirming message of love and friendship. The Rag Coat has been performed as a ballet by the University of Utah.
CHARLOTTE AWARD (New York State Award)
SMITHSONIAN SEASON'S CHOICE AWARD
1996 PARENT'S CHOICE SEAL OF APPROVAL
• A resource guide for The Rag Coat (grades 3-5) is available through Scholastic at the following link:
From School Library Journal– "Minna, a young Appalachian girl, wants very badly to attend school, but she doesn't have a coat. Her father has just died and her family cannot afford one. When a group of mothers who gather at her house regularly to make quilts hear of her predicament, they decide to help her. Minna is thrilled, but when the new coat is finished and she wears it to the one-room schoolhouse, she is teased by her classmates for wearing rags. Minna is hurt, but she eventually gains their interest when she explains that her coat is full of stories–their stories–for each scrap has come from one of their homes. The children are enthralled and sorry for their taunts. Mills's care and attention to details make her book as charming as her narrative. The paper is a cream color, and the watercolor palette is warm but faded to give an antique cast to the illustrations. The large, lovely paintings that bring the characters and period to life are balanced by text on the bottom half of the left-hand pages; the generous blank space is filled with small scraps of colorful cloth. The writing is lyrical; its heartwarming message emphasizes the value of a community and sharing. It might even inspire a class quilting project–and a chance to share more stories. (Grade 1-4)" —Judith Gloyer, Milwaukee Public Library (Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews– "Minna's family can't afford a coat for her, but Papa keeps her warm in winter with a burlap sack and Mama's patchwork quilt; this happy family understands that 'People only need people, and nothing else.'' Soon, Minna loses one of those people: Papa, a coal miner, gets the lung sickness and dies, after urging eight- year-old Minna to start school. There's still the problem of the coat, solved by neighbors who contribute scraps and help to make one of patchwork lined with the old sack, ready almost as soon as cold weather begins. At first, the other children tease Minna about her outlandish garment; then, learning that the patchwork contains bits of their own histories, they begin to honor Minna and the stories she tells about the coat's many pieces. This sweet, sober tale about love and good will overcoming poverty is reminiscent of Marguerite de Angeli's thoughtful books–especially in the soft, delicately detailed illustrations with their subtly poignant characterizations and lovingly evoked setting in time past. Unusually appealing. (Picture book, ages 5-10)" —Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Hans Christian Anderson (Author), retold and illustrated by Lauren Mills Reading level: 1-6 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; 1st edition (April 6, 2005) ISBN-10: 0316573590, ISBN-13: 978-0316573597
This fairy tale of the little girl so named because of her tiny size is one of the most popular and enduring stories of all time. Children can identify with the plucky heroine who uses cleverness instead of size and strength to make her own way into the wide, wide world. Delicate watercolors create a miniature land where a walnut shell covered with violet petals serves as a bed, a leaf becomes a suitable umbrella, and field mice and birds are Thumbelina's unlikely companions. Enchanting details, drawn from nature, make this imaginative story come to life.
From School Library Journal– "This is a charmingly illustrated Thumbelina, retold with just a few changes in detail and some omissions of lengthy description that make the story more readable. Obtained by an old widow from a tulip grown from a magic seed, the tiny child is soon taken by a toad, then by a beetle, both of them fancying her for her beauty. Welcomed into a kind field mouse's home in winter and presented to a bachelor mole as a possible bride, the sweet child has the common sense to listen to others and the strength of character to do what her own mind and senses tell her is right. Thumbelina's decision to nurse an injured swallow provides her with the opportunity to find her own true place in the world. In Mills's soft, detailed watercolor illustrations, the tiny red-haired girl appears fairylike in her filmy nightgown, then wears homespun jumpers and braids in the mouse's cozy burrow. Even libraries that own Lisbeth Zwerger's lovely version of the story (Morrow, 1980), which is closely translated from the original Danish, will want Mills's book as well. (Grade 1-5)" –Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
From Kirkus Reviews– "Mills shortens Andersen's tale of a miniature child snatched by one prospective suitor after another, and tweaks it to give the protagonist an independent streak: 'Yes, I will go now and find my own happiness!' she exclaims, climbing onto the swallow's back to escape marriage to the boring Mole. Illustrated with soft watercolor scenes of a tiny redhead, posed with a dancer's grace and clad in a succession of beautifully draped shifts, this makes a good replacement for lusher earlier versions, such as Marianna Mayer's (1986), though Brad Sneed's adaptation (2004) is more faithful to the now disturbing original. (Picture book. 7-9)"
Tatterhood and the Hopgoblins
Lauren A. Mills (Author & Illustrator) Reading level: 5-8 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little, Brown Books (1993) ISBN-10: 0316573345, ISBN-13: 978-0316573344
A retelling of a Norwegian folktale follows Tatterhood, the wild and strange twin sister of sweet and perfect princess Isabella, as she attempts to break a spell placed on her sibling.
From School Library Journal– "Attractive, softly colored illustrations decorate and enhance this competent retelling. Common folkloric elements, such as an unhappy childless queen, unheeded advice, and magical transformations, are eventually capped by the expected happily-ever-after ending. The unexpected aspect here is the active role taken by its hoydenish heroine. The elder of twins magically born to the previously barren queen, Tatterhood, dresses in rags and rides upon a goat. Yet it is she who sets out to restore her sister, Isabella, to health when vengeful hobgoblins steal her head and replace it with the head of a calf. Tatterhood successfully vanquishes the hobgoblins and the two sisters then enjoy three more years of unspecified adventures, finally meeting a handsome king and his brother. This precipitates the happy ending of a double wedding and a triumphant journey home. The text flows smoothly, retaining enough of the original language to convey the flavor of the tale, but Mills changes some details to make the story more accessible to modern readers. The appealing illustrations are slightly reminiscent of Michael Hague's work and suit the exotic charm of the unusual story well. The cover illustration is particularly attractive and, along with the feisty heroine, should ensure that the book finds an enthusiastic audience. (Grade 1-3) " —Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Lauren A. Mills (Author, Illstrator), Dennis Nolan (Illustrator) Reading level: 4-8 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little Brown and Co. (1995) ISBN-10: 0316573973, ISBN-13: 978-0316573979
Ridiculed by all but her closest friends, the wingless Fia is invited by the boy fairy Kip to accompany him to the annual May dance, where her wingless condition causes a stir until a wing-hungry troll crashes the party.
From Publishers Weekly– "Mills (Elfabet) and Nolan (Dinosaur Dream) pack everything but the glass slippers into this dainty sylvan romance starring a wingless fairy. Fia endures the disdain of her arrogant sisters and their high-brow society, 'flying' inelegantly about the woodland on the wings of Crow and playing with Rat and Frog. But when the dreaded slobbering troll crashes the May Dance (from which Fia has been bounced) and snares the flying folk, Fia and her outcast friends come to the rescue. Fia's heroism occurs within the familiar plot of an incognito prince who admires the ragamuffin fairy's independence and self-respect, and the tale, not surprisingly, ends with a wedding. Mills embroiders the text with a raft of fairy paraphernalia likely to captivate the dollhouse set: Fia fashions a tiny boat from the discarded eggshell of a goose and uses a holly leaf as her oar; Fia's mother weaves a dress from 'the finest milkweed down'; etc. (Ages 4-8)" Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fia and the Imp
Lauren A. Mills (Author, Illstrator) and Dennis Nolan (Illstrator) Reading level: 4 years and up Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little Brown and Co. (2002) ISBN-10: 0316574120, ISBN-13: 978-0316574129
Fia, the wingless fairy sister, anticipates celebrating her engagement to her best friend. As Fia helps the woodkins harvest food, a mischievous imp spirits away the two littlest woodkins. Will Fia be able to face the imp alone and save her friends? In this companion volume to the award-winning Fairy Wings, Lauren Mills and Dennis Nolan create a magical world filled with fairies, imps, trolls, woodkins and all kinds of sprightly beings.
From School Library Journal– "In this companion volume to Fairy Wings (Little, Brown, 1995), Mills and Nolan once again create a magical fantasy world drawn in ethereal watercolors. Fia, a wingless fairy, is a devoted friend of the lowly earthbound woodkins, who are despised and mocked by the other fairies. She shows her courage and wits when mischievous woodkin twins float downriver on a raft they've been forbidden to ride and she must find and rescue them. This world is populated with unusual creatures, including a delightfully wicked imp, the colorful and tattered woodkins and some culturally diverse fairies. The ending will satisfy its audience with the declaration by Kip, the fairy prince, that 'From this day forward, fairies and woodkins will be friends who work together for the good of all.' The text is lengthy and sophisticated, and is suitable for longer or multiple read-aloud sessions. (Grade 1-3)" Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library District, IL. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The Dog Prince
Lauren A. Mills (Author, Illstrator) and Dennis Nolan (Illstrator) Reading level: 4 years and up Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little Brown and Co. (2002) ISBN-10: 0316574120, ISBN-13: 978-0316574129
A handsome but spoiled prince, feeling that his royal life is dull, decides to challenge himself by hunting the monstrous chimera. On his journey, his rudeness and arrogance offend a faery, who turns him into a hound dog as punishment. Afterward, the gentle kindness of a poor goat girl named Eliza transforms the prince's heart. When the chimera threatens Eliza, the dog prince fights to save her—and discovers that she can save him, too.
From School Library Journal– "Romance, danger, magic, even humor-this original fairy tale provides them all. Employing the classic "pride goeth before a fall" motif, the story introduces a haughty prince whose rudeness to a goat girl and a faery brings about his transformation into a hound dog. Rejected by the townsfolk and palace personnel, the hungry animal is taken in by the friendly (and lovely) goat girl, who names him, ironically and unwittingly, "Prince." More changes are forthcoming as she teaches him some manners, and he comes to enjoy her companionship. His mettle is tested when the chimera threatens the flock. In a Beauty-and-the-Beast-like conclusion (with some tongue-in-cheek touches), all ends happily. As in Mills and Nolan's Fairy Wings (Little, Brown, 1995), the watercolors depict marvelously expressive humans and animals. Soft backgrounds shimmer with elfin surprises and classical details. A charmer. (K-Gr 4)" Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Book of the Little Folk: Faery Stories and Poems from Around the World
Lauren A. Mills (Author & Illustrator) Reading level: 5 years and up Hardcover 144 pages Publisher: Dial 1st edition (June 1, 1997) ISBN-10: 0803714580, ISBN-13: 978-0803714588
A collection of favorite folktales about elves, fairies, gnomes and other little folk includes such timeless classics as "Thumbelina," as well as such lesser known stories as the Ojibwa tale "Leelinau".
From Booklist– "Mills' collection of fairy tales from around the world can be read alone or aloud to young listeners, or it can be studied by fairy tale buffs. Following a foreword commending the cultural and psychological value of myths for children are 13 stories and 16 poems. The stories and accompanying color illustrations by the author are enchanting. Familiar favorites such as 'The Elves and the Shoemaker' and 'Tom Thumb' are included, as well as the lesser known Native American 'Leelinau' and Hawaiian 'Laka and the Menehunes.' The poetry is interspersed throughout, adding interest to the stories and depth to the author's theory that there are common fairy themes across cultures. A bibliography and an afterword enhance the beautiful book. (Grades 3-6, younger for reading aloud)" —Susan DeRonne
From School Library Journal– "This collection of 29 short stories, folktales and poems dealing with faeries and other little folk spans many different cultures and periods of time. Selections from Shakespeare and Tennyson, Hans Christian Andersen and e. e. cummings as well as Mayan, African and Native American folklore are among those included. The similarity of themes across the ages and cultures is noted in the foreword, which compares many of the selections. With references to Joseph Campbell and Bruno Bettelheim, this introduction seems to be intended for adults. Some of the stories are given lively retellings, while others are preserved intact. A thorough bibliography lists general sources about faeries, citations for the poems and the different versions consulted by the reteller. Charming illustrations in delicate watercolors appear on nearly every page and greatly enhance the book's appeal. (Kindergarten-Grade 4.)" —Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library, NY Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The Goblin Baby
Lauren A. Mills (Author & Illustrator) Reading level: 5-8 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Dial (September 1, 1999) ISBN-10: 0803721722, ISBN-13: 978-0803721722
Amanda loves to visit the gnomes who live in her garden–especially now that there's a noisy new baby in her house. Her little brother can't do a thing for himself, and when he cries he looks just like a toad squirming on its back. It's the gnomes who confirm Amanda's worst fears: The baby is a changeling–a goblin baby–and the goblins have her real brother. Amanda knows she must come up with a plan to get him back, but will those tricky goblins return the baby?
The Goblin Baby weaves a warm and funny tale of sibling rivalry with all the wonder of the fairy folk. With its delicate and detailed watercolor paintings, this charming story is another triumph from one of America's best-known illustrators of the fairy world.
From Library Journal- "A story about the reluctance of a child to accept a new sibling. Amanda and her garden gnome friends decide that her baby brother has been stolen by goblins and replaced by a changeling. Told from her point of view, the text is quiet and peaceful, and the tone, at times, drippingly sweet. Yet there are moments of terror, as when she thinks she, too, is about to be kidnapped by a goblin, and when the gnomes don't tell her how to get her brother back. When they finally reveal the secret of his return, instead of being angry at them, Amanda is proud that they are finally helping her. It is Mills's illustrations that make this book worth reading. Executed in watercolors in subtle, pastel earth tones, they perfectly evoke the gentle nature of Amanda and the magic and imagination that she has used to create her garden world. Younger children who cannot follow the somewhat involved story will be enchanted by the four gnomes and Miss Lucy Larkin, Amanda's rabbit. This is not a story for squirmy little ones with short attention spans, but dreamy fairy fans will appreciate it. (Kindergarten-Grade 2)" Diane Janoff, Queens Borough Public Library, NY. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Elfabet: An ABC of Elves
Jane Yolen (Author), Lauren A. Mills (Illustrator), Reading level: 4-8 years Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Little Brown & Co. (Juv) (September 1997) ISBN-10: 0316968889, ISBN-13: 978-0316968881
This ingenious alphabet book by the award-winning author of Letting Swift River Go and Merlin and the Dragons features an assortment of elves from A to Z. Each illustrated elf–some clever, some mischievous–presents a different letter in a unique way. With exquisite illustrations and detailed floral borders, this is a book to be enjoyed again and again. Full color.
The Tsar's Promise: A Russian Tale
Robert D. San Souci (Author), Lauren A. Mills (Illustrator), Reading level: 5 years and up Hardcover 32 pages Publisher: Philomel (November 4, 1992) ISBN-10: 0399215816, ISBN-13: 978-0399215810
The author of The Talking Eggs recounts the story, derived from Russian folklore, of a tsar who unwittingly pledges his son to a demon and a princess who helps the young man escape his fate, with many richly painted illustrations.
Linnets and Valerians
Elizabeth Goudge (Author), Lauren A. Mills (Illustrator) Reading level: 8-12 years Kindle Edition 260 pages Publisher: David R. Godine, Publisher (February 1, 2015) ISBN-10: 0142300268, ASIN: B00R5QQCFY
When Nan, Robert, Timothy, and Betsy's father went off to explore in Egypt, he left the children with their grandmother who lived in the English countryside. Unfortunately she did not much like children, much less their dog, Absalom. So the children ran away to stay with their Uncle Ambrose, an eccentric, strict and loveable retired school teacher who was determined to give them an Education, but in addition to Greek, Latin and Literature, the Linnet children learned much more—about nature and magic, the power of the past and Pan, and, of course, the importance of the bees. They used their knowledge to find the lost Valerians, undo some very wicked, ancient spells and reunite a divided family. The word "enchanting" is overused, but in this case it applies.
Ann of Green Gables
L. M. Montgomery (Author), Lauren Mills (Illustrator) Reading level: 8-12 years Hardcover 198 pages Publisher: David R. Godine; (1st,1908); 1st thus edition (1989) ISBN-10: 087923783X, ISBN-13: 978-0879237837, ASIN: B0099L0AOW
Who can resist the precocious young orphan girl taken into the house–and eventually the hearts–of two elderly and very set-in-their-ways brother and sister? In the classic story we all know and love, Anne Shirley arrives on Prince Edward Island by mistake; Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert wanted a boy to help out on the farm. But Anne is both endearing and irresistible, and charms them into letting her stay. Soon they grow to love her, as have generations of readers who have followed her "ever-so-tragical" misadventures.
At the Back of the North Wind
George MacDonald (Author), Lauren Mills (Illustrator).
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