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Mercer Mayer (1943–)

Mercer Mayer is the author and illustrator of more than 300 children’s books, as well as a contributor to a variety of other media, including video, audio, and workbooks.

Mercer Mayer was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 30, 1943. He attended elementary school in Camden (Ouachita County). A military family, the Mayers moved frequently until settling in Honolulu, Hawaii, when he was a teenager. The young Mayer enjoyed reading and drawing. After high school, he attended the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. In 1966, he began a career as a book illustrator in New York City.

In 1967, Mayer’s first book, A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog, was published. A five-book series (with his first wife, Marianna Mayer) followed. The books were among the first picture books without words for children. In 1968, his classic picture book, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, was published. Mayer drew upon his childhood experiences for his stories.

Mayer collaborates with other authors and illustrators such as John Dennis Fitzgerald (The Great Brain series) and Steven Kellogg (Liverwurst series). His illustrations feature varied artistic styles and media.

Since 1976, Golden Press has published Mayer’s enormously popular Little Critter series (with his third wife, Gina Mayer) and Little Monster series (with Erica Farber and J. R. Sansevere).

In 2007, Mayer was selected as Artist of the Year for the National Book Festival in Washington DC. 

Mayer lives in Connecticut with his wife.

For additional information:
Goldstein, Jane R. “Mayer, Mercer.” In Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English, edited by Victor Watson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Little Critter World-Wide Network. http://www.littlecritter.com/ (accessed May 19, 2014).

“Mayer, Mercer.” In Favorite Children’s Authors and Illustrators. 2nd ed. Vol. 5, edited by E. Russell Primm III. Maple Plain, MN: Tradition Books, 2007.

Inez Ramsey
James Madison University

Last Updated 5/19/2014

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