Born: January 31, 1950
Ohio connection: Birth
Denise Fleming was born on January 31, 1950 in Toledo, Ohio, to Frank and Inez Campbell Fleming. She grew up in a comfortable middle-class family. Her father spent his free time building furniture, her mother was very active in local theater. As a child, Fleming enjoyed making things out of papier-mâché and wood, painting, and drawing. In third grade, Fleming was chosen to participate in classes at the Toledo Museum of Art. Several of her paintings were included in art exchange programs with other countries. One painting was chosen to be the cover of a teachers’ magazine. In high school, Fleming enjoyed art classes and continued to win art awards. She attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fleming experimented with different styles of writing and art techniques. Her works are known for short verse and pulp paintings. Ms. Fleming creates the illustrations for her books by pouring colored cotton pulp through hand-cut stencils. The result are images set in hand-made paper. Her first picture book, In the Tall, Tall Grass was published in 1991 by Henry Holt and Company. The companion book, In the Small, Small Pond, was published in 1994 and was a Caldecott Honor Book. Fleming has written and/or illustrated over two dozen books.
American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book designation, American Bookseller Pick-of-the List designation, Booklist Editor’s Choice selection, School Library Journal Best Book citation, and Redbook Children’s Picture Book Award, all 1991, and Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book designation, and International Reading Association/Children’s Book Council Children’s Choices selection, both 1992, all for In the Tall, Tall grass; ALA Notable Book designation, 1992, for Lunch; Publishers Weekly Fifty Best Books of 1992 inclusion, for Count!; American Bookseller Pick-of-the-List designation, Publishers Weekly Best books designation, and School Library Journal Best Books designation, all 1993, and Booklist Notable Book designation, Caldecott Honor Book, and ALA Notable Book, all 1994, all for In the Small, Small Pond; American Bookseller Pick-of-the-list designation, 1994, for Barnyard Banter; Booklist Notable Book, 1997, for Where Once There Was a Wood.