Gail Gibbons: Her Life and Works

The Life of Gail Gibbons

Gail Gibbons was born in Oak Park Illinois in 1944. While she was still a child she enjoyed making books, and she has always loved drawing and painting. She also was very curious and asked a lot of questions.

When she grew up she attended the University of Illinois and studied graphic design. Later she moved to New York City where she worked creating art for television shows. It was while doing artwork for a children’s television show that the children encouraged her to do a children’s book. She decided to do one — Willy and His Wheel Wagon — which a publisher bought at once. Since then Gibbons has written and illustrated over 100 books. She prefers to write non-fiction because she enjoys the research so much. She also enjoys traveling and meeting interesting people.

Mrs. Gibbons lives most of the time in Corinth, Vermont on 300 acres with her husband, dog, and two cats. Many wild animals  roam and live on their property. The couple also spends a lot of time at their little farmhouse on an island off the coast of Maine.

I love Gail Gibbons’ books because I learn so much from them. She can bring almost any subject  into focus in just 32 pages. Those pages provide enough detail to satisfy the initial curiosity of a young child. The adults  reading to the children find more detailed information to keep them interested, as well. The stunning, bold, colorful pictures will hold the attention of all ages, though the books are, for the most part, aimed at children K-3.

Although I’ve not reviewed each book individually, you can expect each book to explain the basics of the subject it covers, enhanced by Gibbons’ superb illustrations.

You can find these books and many of  the newer Gibbons’ titles on the Gail Gibbons page at Amazon. A few of the photos also link to the titles they represent there. You can also follow the text links to the book listings on Amazon.

 The Books of Gail Gibbons

Review of Gail Gibbons' The Art BoxArt Box: This book has very large print to accommodate the very youngest readers. It introduces the tools and colors that artists use. Everything in the large, bold illustrations is labeled, so this book is great for teaching art vocabulary.   But the main point is that art comes from the artists imagination, and the tools and colors bring the artist’s ideas to life. Trade paper. Square shape.

Review of Gail Gibbons' BatsBats:. Although many people are afraid of bats, most have never seen these creatures of the night. Mrs. Gibbons examines the rumors that give them a bum rap, describes their physiology, and shows in vivid detail how different species live and hunt. She also explains how they benefit man and their place in the balance of nature. She pictures the Giant Flying Fox, the Mexican Free-tailed Bat, the Epaulet Bat, the Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat, the Little Brown Bat, the Nectar Bat, the Fishing Bat, the Vampire Bat, the Dawn Bat, the Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat, and the Jamaican Fruit Bat. This book is a must for anyone interested in learning more about these often misunderstood creatures.Square shape. For beginning readers.

Bicycle Book: Explains the history of bicycles, the different kinds, and how they work.


Boat Book: Different kinds of boats are moved by oars and paddles, the wind, and engines.



Review of Gail Gibbons' CatsCats: This book gives a glimpse into the history of cats, explains their physiology, and introduces several different breeds as it explains how cats use their paws and claws; how they use their senses; and how they communicate, reproduce, and play. The book explains to children how to care for both kittens and adult cats.  Gibbons uses one of her common techniques here — dividing the pages into halves or quarters to get more pictures on a theme in a page or to illustrate details.  Square shape.

Catch the Wind: All About Kites: This book explains the history of kites, the different kinds of kites, and how to make and fly them.

Review of Gail Gibbons' Caves and CavernsCaves and Caverns: Join a guided tour of a cavern and learn how these caves were formed, what we call the different formations, what the temperature is like, what living things are inside, and what, including safety rules, a spelunker need to know. As usual, Gibbons’ bold, colorful illustrations clarify the text. Trade paper.

Review of Gail Gibbons' Check it Out

Check it Out! The Book About Libraries. Explains the different kinds of libraries and how they are used.


Deserts: Learn the characteristics of a desert, and how plants, animals, and people live in them. Trade paper.

Review of Gail Gibbons' EmergencyEmergency!: Gail Gibbons uses her bright, bold illustrations to show how emergency vehicles and personnel respond and what they do when they are called upon. Trade paper.


Frogs:  Illustrates and explains the life-cycle and habits of frogs as only Gail Gibbons, with her bold, simple, bright pictures, can do it.  For preschoolers and early primary ages. Trade paper.

From Seed to Plant: Gail Gibbons’ bright, bold, simple pictorial explanations show the process of a plant’s growth from seed to sprout, to mature plant. Trade paper.


Review of Gail Gibbons' How a House is BuiltHow a House is Built: Explains the different types of houses one can build, the people involved in the work of building it, and the various steps between planning the house on paper to completing it. This book will be fascinating to those children who love to watch construction going on because it will explain what they are seeing.


 Review of Gail Gibbons' Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly: This is a clear and beautiful story of the life cycle of a monarch butterfly from the time the adult lays the eggs until the new adults migrate. There are also instructions for keeping a caterpillar and watching it go through its changes until it emerges as a butterfly and then releasing it. As usual, Gibbons puts all the spare facts that wouldn’t fit into the story at the back of the book for those who want to know.

Review of Gail Gibbons' The PlanetsThe Planets: Explains how planets differ from stars, and how they move around the sun in their orbits. Then it describes what we know about the planets in our solar system and a bit about how astronomers work. Trade paper.

Reasons for the Seasons: Gail Gibbons’ bold, brightly colored pictures illustrate her easy-to-understand explanation for why we have seasons.

Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree: Arnold’s  secret place is his very own apple tree. It keeps him busy all year. In spring he watches the buds grow and develop into blossoms. He makes a swing and gathers blossoms. In summer he builds a tree house and he watches his small apples grow big enough to juggle. In fall he eats apples and rakes leaves. His family makes pies and cider. In winter he hangs popcorn and berries on his tree for the birds to eat and builds a snow fort, complete with snow man, at the bottom of his tree. This book teaches young children about the changing seasons, a variety of creative outdoor activities, and an appreciation of  apple trees.

Review of Gail Gibbons' SharksSharks: Describes the varieties of sharks, their anatomy, how they live and reproduce, and how they are useful to man.

Review of Gail Gibbons' TrainsTrains. Explains how trains move and what powers them. It also describes the various kinds of cars on the train and their uses.

Weather Words and What They Mean: Simple photos help young children put names on the kinds of weather they may experience. They also help children visualize the sort of weather they have not experienced when people talk about it.

Whales: Describes the various kinds of whales and how they breathe, navigate, talk, migrate, and reproduce. Trade paper.

Review of Gail Gibbons' WolvesWolves: Describes the types of wolves, how they hunt, how their packs care for each other. Also explains how they communicate and reproduce, and how they interact with man. Image is cut off a bit on top and bottom because the scanner was too small to get it all.

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Gail Gibbons: Her Life and Works

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