Don Tate is the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. His bold and dynamic art has been noted for it’s versatility of style, though Don does not feel his art represents any so-called trademark style.
IT JES’ HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, (Lee & Low Books, 2012)(ages 4-up) marks his debut as an author. It Jes’ Happened is a Lee & Low New Voices Honor winner, and an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor winner, 2012. It received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal, as well as being selected as a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012, and a New York Public Library Top 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, and more! Also honored as a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2012.
The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge, Aug. 2013), written by Eve Bunting, is a forthcoming title illustrated by Don.
Hope’s Gift (Putnam Juvenile, 2012), written by Kelly Starling Lyons, is a Winter/Spring Okra Pick by Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA).
Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Charlesbridge, 2011), written by Anna Harwell Celenza, has been recognized in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times holiday guides.
She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story (HarperCollins, 2010), written by Audrey Vernick, is a Junior Library Guild selection. School Library Journal said, Both author and illustrator are on top of their games as they bring this inspiring story to life.” She Loved Baseball was honored by the Bank Street College of Education as a Best Children’s Books of the Year.
Ron’s Big Mission (Dutton, 2009), written by Rose Blue and Corrine Naden, is a Junior Library Guild spring 2009 selection. School Library Journal said, ”…Vibrant illustrations portray a cozy small town where rules are obeyed, mostly without thinking. Tate’s figures feature oversized heads with very expressive faces that vividly convey well-meant kindness and the frustrations of injustice.”
Summer Sun Risin’ (Lee & Low Books, 2002) was honored by the Bank Street College of Education as “Best Children’s Books of the Year for 2002.” It also received a Children’s Crown Award, 2003 by the National Christian School Association Master List. Publisher’s Weekly says, ”…the pictures will immediately engage readers.”
Don is also the illustrator of Say Hey: A Song of Willie Mays (Jump at the Sun, 2000). This book, the first trade picture book of his career was praised by Publisher’s Weekly, who said, “…Tate’s sharp-edged pictures boast vivid, sparkling colors and a vibrant immediacy, ideal for the subject.” It was also named a Child Magazine suggested title.
His other trade picture books include, Black All Around! (Lee & Low Books); The Hidden Feast (August House, 2006); The Legend of the Valentine(Zondervan, 2002), which is a Christian Bookseller’s Association best seller.
Don has been a featured illustrator/speaker/exhibitor at various literary festivals, including the Texas Book Festival; The Savannah Children’s Book Festival, The Dallas Children’s Book and Literary Festival, and such conferences as: The International Reading Association; Texas Library Association Black Caucus Roundtable, The National Alliance of Black School Educators. He speaks at schools, public libraries and writing conferences, including the Texas Writer’s League; Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators; Pathways to Literacy Conferences(International Institute of Literacy Learning).
Articles about or quoting Don, or his books, have been featured in The New York Times Children’s Book Review; Black Issues Book Review; School Library Journal Blog; The Writer’s Institute (upcoming); The Austin American-Statesman and Des Moines Register newspapers. Other outlets of note include highlights on Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s children’s literary blog; African-American Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; News Channel 8, Des Moines Iowa, Leading The Way TV segment. He was also featured on author Angela Medearis’ Angela’s Notebook, a 30-minute children’s television program featuring award-winning children’s book authors and illustrators.
In addition to children’s books, Don also licenses his art to product manufacturers. KIDZ is a line of juvenile bed and bathroom products that includeswallpaper, light switches, wall art and drawer knobs. He also has a line of children’s textile/fabric available at specialty fabric shops, which feature his designs.My Peepz, a group of African American characters, is marketed to ‘tweeners and has been a hit in the calendar market.
Don earned an AAA degree from Des Moines Area Community College. He has worked as a publication designer for the Perfection Learning Corporation, an educational publishing company where he won various design and illustration awards through the Iowa Art Director’s Association. In addition, he was the art director at an advertising and market research firm, and a graphic artist at a print shop. He also flipped burgers in high school and swept floors at the mall.
A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Don currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and son. In his spare time, Don is a gym-rat, having competed (in better fit days) in natural, drug-free bodybuilding.