Helen Craig was born in London in 1934. She moved to the country with her family just before World War II. Many of the images from this country life have been incorporated into her illustrations in the Angelina Ballerina books. As a child, Ms. Craig realized how important children's books were to her: "I would almost enter the pictures and become so absorbed that I would wait, expecting the figures to move. Now that I am an illustrator myself, I try to make my pictures live for the children who look at them."
At the age of 16, Ms. Craig became an apprentice to a commercial photographer in London. She went on to set up her own photographic studio, as well as worked as a freelance potter and sculptor. During all this time, she did drawings only for her own pleasure. It was not until her son, Ben, was born in 1965 that she experimented with ideas for children's picture books. She was inspired by Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE after buying it for Ben. In 1970, Ms. Craig took the advice of a friend and took her drawings to an editor at Macmillan Books. From then on, her career as a children's illustrator took off.
Ms. Craig has now worked on over 60 children's book titles. The most famous are her illustrations for the Angelina Ballerina series written by Katharine Holabird; theirs is a great partnership that has lasted since 1983. The books deal with childhood themes such as jealousy, shyness, happiness, wonder, and dedication. The series has inspired a new animated series, with spin-off titles and a brand-new title, ANGELINA AND HENRY, coming from Pleasant Company in autumn 2002.
Ms. Craig received an award from the Society of Authors (U.S.) in 1977 for THE MOUSE HOUSE ABC and won the Kentucky Bluegrass Award for ANGELINA BALLERINA in 1985. ANGELINA'S CHRISTMAS was selected as the Child Study Association's Children's Book of the Year in 1987; ANGELINA'S BIRTHDAY won a category award at the British Book Design and Production Exhibition in 1990; and THE TOWN MOUSE AND COUNTRY MOUSE was short-listed for England's prestigious Smarties Book Prize in 1992. From one of her other series, This Is The Bear, written by Sarah Hayes, THIS IS THE BEAR AND THE BAD LITTLE GIRL was named a 1995 American Bookseller Pick of the Lists.
Ms. Craig lives in a 300-year-old cottage in Buckinghamshire, England, where she illustrates her books for children.