Meet Robert Quackenbush

Meet The Author

"A vibrant children's author and illustrator who wants to fill
children's lives with a love of reading, writing, art and humor."

- The Cincinnati Enquirer

Read about a Amsterdam photojournalist's visit to Robert Quackenbush Studios

Photo: Ben Petrosky

Robert Quackenbush, who graduated with a BPA from the Art Center College of Design in California, and who also has a Masters Degree in Social Studies and a Ph.D. in Childhood Education, is an author, artist and educator. He has written and illustrated more than 200 books for young readers.

He has been awarded honors and prizes for his work including a gold medal from the Holland Society of New York for distinction in art and literature. His art is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian Institution. It is also on display in the gallery/studio he owns and runs in New York City.

His gallery/studio is fairly quacking with activity, for, in addition to creating books and paintings there, Mr. Quackenbush teaches writing and illustrating to children and adults. Robert, who is a native of Arizona, now lives in New York City with his wife, Margery. Their son, Piet (rhymes with "neat"), was the inspiration for many of the author's books when he was growing up. Now Aidan and Emma, the children of Piet and his wife, Teresa, are the inspiration.

For further information scroll down to see recent photos, interviews, and an update on Robert Quackenbush's Liberty Avenue Program for children affected by the events of 9/11 and its aftermath.


SEPTEMBER: A Photojournalist from Amsterdam Visits Robert Quackenbush Studios

During New York's celebration of the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the Hudson River, which led to the first Dutch settlement in America, Amsterdam photojournalist Geert Snoeijer ( came to New York to take portraits of some of the members of the Holland Society of New York. The portraits were for an exhibition in Amsterdam City Hall.

Members of the society trace their lineage on the male side to the first Dutch settlers before and during the year 1675 when the British invaded New Amsterdam and renamed it New York. Robert Quackenbush is a member of the society. In 2000, he was awarded the society's distinguished achievement metal to members. He received the prestigious gold metal for distinction in art and literature. He traces his ancestry to Pieter Quackenbosch who arrived in America from Holland in 1653 and settled in Albany, New York where he became a brickmaker. Pieter's brick house still stands in Albany's Quackenbush Square and it is one of America's oldest homes. His great-great granddaughter, Wyn Quackenbush Mabie (Robert's aunt five generations back) served as a messenger for General Washington during America's Revolutionary War. Robert wrote and illustrated about her adventures in a book for young readers titled "Daughter of Liberty," which is supplimentary reading in elementary school classrooms where American history is being taught.

(painting, right) Wyn Quackenbush Mabie - "Daughter of Liberty"by Robert Quackenbush

When Geert Snoeijer came to visit Robert's studio to take his portrait for his exhibit at Amsterdam City Hall, he asked Robert if he would mind posing before an oil painting Robert did of his illustrious ancestor Wyn Quackenbush Mabie. "No way!" said Robert jovially. "She had her turn. Now it's my turn! I'll let you take a portrait of me with your camera if you let me paint an oil portrait of you at the same time!" It was agreed. Here are the results of that challenge:

Wyn Quackenbush Mabie


Robert Quackenbush's Portrait of Geert Snoeijer

rq geert snoeijer
Geert Snoeijer's Portrait of Robert Quackenbush

Both portraits are now in Amsterdam. Robert's portrait of Geert Snoeijer hangs on the wall of the Snoeijer dining room to remind his young son, Monte, that whenever his daddy is away on an assignment "Daddy is watching" and he will return soon!

"Daddy is Watching" by Geert Snoeijer
OCTOBER: Robert Quackenbush has a retrospective at the Member's Gallery of New York's Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street. In the exhibit are 17 original oils, watercolors, and woodcuts from his many books for children and adults including a color woodcut from the Society's Museum of American Illustration collection that he did for Stephen Crane's classic short story The Open Boat. This woodcut has been reproduced and exhibited in many places. To see more works shown in the exhibit click on Books and Films!/Art!

((above) Robert Quackenbush's retrospective at the Member's Gallery of New York's Society of Illustrators

(above) Color woodcut by Robert Quackenbush for Stephen Crane's short story The Open Boat.

(above) detail from The Open Boat woodcut.
A woodcut is done by drawing an image on soft white pine. Background wood is carved away from the image. Ink is rolled on the surface of the carved image with a brayer. A print is made of the image by rubbing it on rice paper with a rice spoon. Each color is a separate block of wood. Wooduts are one of the oldest print mediums. They are an ancient art from Japan.

MAY: Robert Quackenbush on a cross-country author tour visiting schools and libraries from Bozeman, Montana to Florence, Alabama. See the news article excerpt below from Northwestern Alabama's Times Daily.

JULY: A surprise cake for a dual celebration -- Robert's birthday and Miss Mallard's debut on Film.

Robert with grandson, Aidan, age 2 1/2, on their first
sightseeing adventure together. Photo by Manny Zavala


AUGUST: Second annual performance by boys and girls, ages 6-13 of a play based on Robert Quackenbush's Daughter of Liberty being held on the grounds of Morris-Jumel Mansion, where the action of this true story of America's Revolutionary War takes place. The mansion was General Washington's headquarters during the Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776.


Excerpts from the Children's Book Council Interview

Source: The Children's Book Council. complete article here

Margery, my wife, and I had been married three years when our son, Piet (rhymes with "neat") was born. That was a turning point in my career in the field of children's books. The year was 1974. It was the year that I both wrote and illustrated my first book after illustrating quite a few. Piet arrived at about the same time I received a letter from a little girl who wrote, "I like the books you illustrate, but are you really a duck?" That letter gave me the idea for doing a book for Piet about a disaster-prone duck, named Henry, who lives in a bush. I wanted Piet to know that it was all right to have the name Quackenbush. The Henry books became a popular series that include Henry's Important Date, in which Henry races against time to deliver a birthday cake to his friend, Clara, only to find that he has delivered it on the wrong day. Henry launched me into writing and illustrating books on all kinds of subjects.

A number of my author/illustrated books were inspired by Piet as he was growing up. When he took his first steps, at age one, he set out to prove he could fly as well and went crashing to the floor off a sofa. I thought it was time to tell him about the Wright Brothers so I wrote and illustrated my first humorous biography about famous people in history, which led to twenty- three more over the years. They include one of my favorites, James Madison & Dolley Madison and Their Times. Piet helped me with that book to sort out the facts about the War of 1812 so children would be able to understand them. He was in college by that time.

Piet continues to be an inspiration for new books. He recently graduated from Emory University, where he majored in history, and has joined the working world. My latest books reflect on that theme of venturing from home and striving for independence. Batbaby, for one book, is about the adventures of a baby bat going on his first solo flight. Another book, Daughter of Liberty, is about courage, patriotism, and determination which are all necessary things to become successful in an uncertain world.

In between stories about Piet, Margery has been the inspiration for other books including being the prototype for Miss Margery Mallard, world-famous ducktective, in my Miss Mallard Mysteries. My mother, children and adults in the workshops I offer at my studio, my editors, teachers, librarians, and children I have met on author visits have all inspired books.

This is how I became a writer in addition to being an illustrator. For me, both involve the same process, which is observing other people and their experiences.

Robert Quackenbush


* * * * * *

Within a week after the collapse of the Twin Towers, Robert Quackenbush went to work as a volunteer at community centers in lower Manhattan working with children who had lost significant people in their lives in the disaster or had seen it happening at close range (there were elementary schools in the area). He set to work with children in groups and had them makes books about "safe places" to be. The children responded to this and made books about their homes, family and friends. When they were finished, they were lifted from sadness to pride over at the books they created. One boy, Ben, age 8, who had been silent and isolated from his peers after the tragedy, made a book about the distruction of the towers and what he had seen. He drew policemen and firemen going to their deaths, people falling from the windows, and the terrible explosions as the planes crashed into the buildings.

In the example below, Ben found release from pent-up feelings about the events 9/11 in a drawing (© Robert Quackenbush Studios. All rights reserved.). When Ben came to the last page of his book, he asked to leave the room. When he returned he drew the Twin Towers whole again. When he was finished, he closed his book and rejoined his friends and was happily engaged in conversation and play again.

This was the beginning of the establishment of Liberty Avenue Progam. Robert Quackenbush found people and organizations in the mental health profession who were interested in his program. The purpose of the program is to help children and teens to resolve their emotional conflicts in ways they can accept, such as working together in groups on art, writing , music, dance, and theater projects that are nurturing to the spirit and that provide the means to channel traumas into creative works. The program was extended into support groups for the firemen and policemen who were on the rescue teams at Ground Zero and to working with the children of firemen and policemen.

New Yorkers are brave. We heal quickly after disasters and get on with our work and our lives. Those children who smelled and saw the massive, smoldering pile at Ground Zero every day for weeks also saw adults coping with the horror as Lower Manhattan's recovery swirled about them. They learned that life, indeed, does go on.

Today the Liberty Avenue Program continues to flourish at Robert Quackenbush Studios helping children and teens to find their way and realize their full potentials in our uncertain world.


Robert Quackenbush Studios
460 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075-1447


web site:

"Helping Children and Teens Affected by the Events of 9/11 and its Aftermath
to Find Strength through the Arts, Mental Health, and Spirit Filled Ways. "

Liberty Avenue Program Director, Robert Quackenbush, Ph.D., leading a storytelling group.

For further information, contact Robert Quackenbush at

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