World of Picture Books

March 4, 2004 - April 30, 2004
Central Library, Grand Lobby
Ted and Betsy Lewin's World of Picture Books


Illustrations and Books by Children's Authors Ted & Betsy Lewin


Back home in Brooklyn, Ted and Betsy Lewin discuss their passion for adventure and travel, and how their commitment to wildlife conservation and the environment is reflected in their art.

About the Exhibition

Brooklyn's own Ted and Betsy Lewin travel to some of the most remote places in the world in search of material for their picture books. Although they always travel together and share the same experiences, they often come out with very different stories. For example, on a trip to the Galapagos Islands Ted was fascinated by the giant tortoise. The resulting book was Nilo and the Tortoise. Betsy was enthralled by the hilarious antics of the blue-footed booby, which she recreated in Booby Hatch.

Betsy records their animal encounters with a tape recorder and in her energetic watercolor sketches; Ted photographs the animals and later uses the photos and sketches for reference when he creates extraordinary double-paged watercolor spreads.

An arduous trek in Uganda to see mountain gorillas produced their first collaboration, Gorilla Walk. With the publication of Gorilla Walk and a second collaboration, Elephant Quest, their joint efforts have only just begun.

In addition to writing and illustrating their own books, Ted and Betsy Lewin also enjoy illustrating the works of other authors, which take them on journeys of the imagination to places they may never have visited on their own. The Lewins' books celebrate diversity, the wonders of the natural world, and the joys of a good belly laugh.

Between them, Ted and Betsy Lewin have illustrated over one hundred books for children and young adults.

Ted Lewin’s illustrations include his own Tiger Trek, When the Rivers Go Home, Amazon Boy and Market!, which showcases markets around the world, from Uganda to Ireland to Ecuador to New York City. Market! was chosen one of the ten best illustrated children's books of 1996 by The New York Times Book Review. Ted Lewin also received a Caldecott honor for illustrating Elisa Bartone's Peppe the Lamplighter, and his memoir, I Was a Teenage Wrestler, was selected a Booklist Editors' Choice and a School Library Journal Best Book of 1993.

Betsy Lewin's best-known book, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (by Doreen Cronin), was a Caldecott Honor book in 2001. Dumpy Larue (by Elizabeth Winthrop) was cited by The New York Times Book Review Best Books List for 2001. Betsy Lewin's books are rendered in a style that is free-spirited and often humorous, drawn in pen or brush with watercolor washes. Occasionally, Betsy paints in a controlled, realistic style, not totally unlike that of her husband. However, she considers her naturalistic animals in books such as Chubbo's Pool to be anthropomorphic, setting her work apart from Ted’s.