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It’s at the Kerlan: Matthew Holm

By July 15, 2021July 29th, 2021The Kerlan Blog

Crop from “Baby Mouse,” Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota Libraries

In a funny graphic novel for young readers, Babymouse learns that a friend who treats her like a queen is worth more than an invitation to a popular but cruel schoolmate’s sleepover.

This 2006 graphic novel was the first of this format to win an ALA notable children’s book citation. Notable Children’s books are those especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and are books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.

Color proof with notations, Baby Mouse Queen of the World.

Matthew Holm created all of his final art digitally using a special stylus that allowed him to draw straight into the computer.

In 1997, Holm was among the first illustrators creating cartoon webcomics. When he began drawing digitally, scanners for computers were so expensive that he couldn’t afford to use the method of drawing out the illustrations, inking it on paper, and scanning it to get it online. Instead, he had a personal tablet device that he drew on. That’s how he created images digitally and uses the same technique now.

Holm got used to this process, liked how easy it was to erase or undo things, move things around digitally, and recompose an image. He became so proficient at this process that he decided to continue using it in his work.

Baby Mouse Queen of the World, Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm, Finished cover.

In a funny graphic novel for young readers, Babymouse learns that a friend who treats her like a queen is worth more than an invitation to a popular but cruel schoolmate’s sleepover.

This 2006 graphic novel was the first of this format to win an ALA notable children’s book citation. Notable Children’s books are those especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and are books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways.

About Matthew Holm

Matthew Holm

Matthew Holm

Matthew Holm grew up in Pennsylvania, the youngest of five children spanning 18 years. Holm developed an early interest in drawing as his older siblings passed down old comics, including Peanuts, Dr. Seuss, and books about outer space.

Holm studied English nonfiction writing at Pennsylvania State University, taking art classes as well. With his sister, Jennifer Holm, he has created the graphic novel series Babymouse and Squish. Prior to working on Babymouse, Holm spent eight years writing for Country Living Magazine. His freelance work has included science writing (which he also put to use in the Squish series).

Jennifer and Matthew Holm won the 2018 Kerlan Award

The Kerlan Award is given annually by the Friends of the Kerlan Collection in recognition of singular attainments in the creation of children’s literature and in appreciation for generous donation of unique resources to the Kerlan Collection for the study of children’s literature.

Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, siblings who have published novels separately. Jennifer is a three-time Newbery Honor recipient for Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise; and Matthew co-wrote Marvin and the Mothswith Jonathan Follett) and have collaborated on a number of children’s books series. Their first joint project was the graphic-novel series Babymouse, starring a headstrong young mouse with messy whiskers and a wild imagination.

Resources for teachers

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The Kerlan Collection is an internationally recognized children’s literature library and archive that from its beginnings has benefited from outstanding curators. Help keep the Kerlan in the forefront of children’s literature archives by donating to the Endowed Chair for the Kerlan Collection.

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Checks can be made out to:

Kerlan Collection Endowment /
UMF Fund #24053

Mailing Address:
University of Minnesota Foundation
P.O. Box 860266
Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266

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