When Michael Emberley was growing up in Massachusetts, his father, who is also an illustrator, would have him draw whatever he was looking at for just two minutes every day—no more, no less. This daily exercise taught the young artist’s eye to see, and it taught him to draw freely without criticizing himself.
Carrying on the family tradition of encouragement, Michael Emberley now tells children, “I never started out drawing any better than you. I just never stopped drawing.” For he firmly believes that anyone can learn to draw: “The trick is repetitive practice and the belief that it is possible.”
It’s clear that Michael Emberley’s belief is very strong. Today he is the acclaimed illustrator of many books, among them Candlewick’s award-winning books by Robie H. Harris, including It’s So Amazing!, about reproduction; and It’s Perfectly Normal, a refreshing and honest book about changing bodies, growing up, sex, and sexual health.
Michael Emberley, who competes in bicycle marathons, continues to make his home in Massachusetts, as do his father and sister (also an author and illustrator). Sometimes father and son are asked to sign each other’s books. Is there a touch of intergenerational competition? “My dad is very talented and I respect his legacy,” Michael says. Then he adds jokingly, “But he’s not beyond my reach.”