Eujin Kim Neilan
children's book illustrator
Eujin Kim Neilan was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she grew up. She was raised in an art-loving family. Her mother was an interior designer. Both of her sisters are artists, and her grandfather collected ancient Asian art.
She earned a B.A. degree in History at Ewha University in Seoul, believing she would take a different path from her family. Her favorite class was art history, and she found herself making sketches of artwork discussed in that class. After moving to the U.S. in 1993, she decided to take art courses for the first time. In 1996, she earned her M.F.A. degree in Illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her first book, In the Moonlight Mist, was completed as her master's thesis project.
In the Moonlight Mist and her second book, The Rabbit and the Dragon King, are both ancient Korean folktales, which Eujin remembers as favorites from her own childhood. She calls these two books her "childhood dreams come true," because to create them, she used images that she had visualized as a young child.
She believes that the most rewarding aspect of being a children's book illustrator is that she has the freedom to imagine new worlds from a child's point of view. Eujin loves to face the challenges of each book and explore different approaches. In The Best Winds, she uses an abstract style of painting to convey the movement of the winds and the emotions of the story. In contrast, the kites adorning these paintings are concrete constructions of balsa woods and rice paper. Imagine a Dragon consists of short tales from many different cultures of the world. The historical artistic styles of these cultures inspired Eujin's paintings for this project. For Fly Free!, her latest book, Eujin sought a different artistic approach to complement the gentleness at the heart of the story. As it so happened, her home was being remodeled, and in the chaos of construction, she found her inspiration: the odd bits of plywood lying around the house. This unusual choice of canvas, in combination with the warm, earthy watercolor tones, brought the tender story of compassion to life.
Eujin lives in Massachusetts with her husband, their two children, a scruffy dog and a sweet cat.
2012 NYSRA Charlotte Award Nomination
2011-12 Maine Chickadee Award Nomination
2011 Bank Street College – The Best Children's Books of the Year (Age 5-9)
2011 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee
2011 Notable Books for a Global Society List
2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature – Picture Book Honor
2010 The Society of School Librarians International Honor Book Award – Language Arts – Picture Books
2008 Connecticut Book Award – Children's Literature Finalist
2008 William Allen White Children's Book Award – Master List
2007 The Children's Book Committee of Bank Street College of Education – The Best Children's Book of the Year
2005 Pewter Plate Award from Highlights Magazine
2003 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award Nominee
1999 Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award
1999 Publishers Weekly – Pick of the Week