Diane deGroat

Diane deGroat is the illustrator of over 150 books, including the Charlie the Ranch Dog series. She is also the author-illustrator of 26 books, including the Gilbert and Friends series, and her latest book, The Adventures of Robo-Kid. She grew up in New Jersey and later moved to New York City to attend Pratt Institute. She now lives in Amherst where the community of authors and illustrators has helped her flourish for the last 25 years (Clip 1 below). During her life she has collected nearly 2,500 picture books, and she spends time admiring the illustrations! Is there anything you like to collect?

As a child, Diane drew all the time. Even in school she would draw on the back of her test papers! She knew that when she grew up, she wanted to be an artist. When she started working at a children’s book publisher after college, she realized that she wanted to illustrate children’s books as a freelance artist. A freelance artist works at home, gets to sleep in late, and doesn’t have a boss! For twenty years she illustrated books until she started writing books as well, which, for her, was harder than drawing because she didn’t read a lot as a child. To become an artist, Diane says, you have to draw every day as much as you can, and to become a writer, you have to write a lot, but you also have to read or be read to! Many children already like to draw and make up stories, and practicing these skills can make you into an artist and writer (Clip 2)! How do you like to express yourself? What types of activities do you enjoy doing?

The characters in the Gilbert and Friends series are various types of animals. Gilbert is a possum, his classmate Patty is a hedgehog, and all the books have funny titles. Diane created the funny titles to get children interested, but the way children relate to the stories is what creates a lasting impact. Gilbert always has problems that any kid would have—siblings, bullies, teachers, and homework—and he has to deal with them in interesting and relatable ways (Clip 3). By putting themselves in Gilbert’s shoes, children can feel empowered and not feel alone. The stories and lovely illustrations in Diane’s books demonstrate just how powerful creativity can be!



Clip 1: Diane talks about what drew her to Amherst and what's kept her here!
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Clip 2: Diane gives advice to children about becoming an illustrator and author!
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Clip 3: Diane talks about Gilbert from Gilbert and Friends and what he can teach kids!
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