ANICE SHEFELMAN, daughter of a German professor and his wife, grew up in a university neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Her father read to her from an early age which began a love affair with children's books and led to careers as teacher, librarian, and writer. Books opened the door to a big world and gave her the desire to see it. She spent one summer bicycling around Europe and another traveling in North Africa and the Middle East.
After Janice and Tom married, they set out on a trip around the world for a year, traveling by freighter and living several weeks in a Buddhist temple. Along the way she wrote articles for newspapers and magazines, which Tom illustrated.
But it was not until Janice put her abilities to work on children's books that her writing career began to blossom. Her first book, A Paradise Called Texas, was a Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee. The idea for the story came from her family. When she was a little girl, her father told her stories of her great-grandfather who left Germany in 1845 and brought his wife and young daughter, Mina, to the Texas frontier.


OM SHEFELMAN'S childhood home in Seattle, Washington, was blessed with a library of beautifully illustrated editions of the classics such as Robin Hood. He knew the stories through the pictures before he began to read them. On his ninth birthday he was given a set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia. He remembers opening one of the volumes to a picture of the Temple of Karnak on the Nile River and marveling at the mighty columns that dwarfed the man standing between them.
His mother, a singer and sometimes painter, "tried but failed to make a musician out of me," Tom says, "so she settled for artist." Drawing and cartooning became his ticket to social acceptance and good grades.
In high school he drew cartoons for the school newspaper. But when an architect visited on Career Day and showed his drawings of beautiful buildings, Tom, still dreaming of the Temple of Karnak, decided on architecture. "My attorney father was relieved. He was afraid I might become a starving artist!" As it turned out, Tom is now both architect and artist, dividing his time between his architectural office in a historic building and his home studio.


Tom and Janice live in Austin, Texas. They have two sons, Karl and Daniel, and two grandchildren, Lena and Will. All three Shefelmen are professional artists, and have worked together to illustrate the family books. What was once a children's playroom is now Tom's studio. There he and Janice confer about every stage of bookmaking from choice of story idea to illustrations. They find this close collaboration stimulating.



To read an interview by the
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators click here.


To read an interview about
the Shefelmans' process of making books together click here.