Kate Garchinsky illustrates books and performs raucous bird calls in the woods surrounding her studio near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She draws her inspiration from the natural world, from mountaintops to cracks in the sidewalk. Her debut picture book, The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by celebrated author Laurence Pringle, was published to critical acclaim. Future picture books include The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat and The Secret Life of the Skunk (Boyds Mills Press). Her upcoming non-fiction chapter book, Belle’s Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight (Charlesbridge), was the result of a collaboration with ornithologist and fellow DVOC member, Dr. Rob Bierregaard, and Harold Underdown. Kate recently lead a Highlights Foundation workshop with authors Larry Pringle, Rob Bierregaard, Julie Zickefoose.
Kate was awarded the Don & Virgina Eckelberry Fellowship for nature artists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in 2015, where she has spent time researching and sketching bird specimens. Her studies of the extinct Carolina parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon have been published in Birding magazine (2014, 2018). A digital exhibit of her work will go live on the anniversary of the death of Incas, the last captive Carolina parakeet, on February 21, 2018.
Earlier in her career, Kate Garchinsky created trail maps for mountain bikers, toys for kids, hoagies and perfect milkshakes, but she’s always wanted to create books. She has been an active member of SCBWI since 1999, winning an honorable mention in the guild’s Barbara Karlin works-in-progress grant program. Kate now makes public appearances at schools, libraries, bookstores, and nature centers. She lives with her husband, two cats, and her loyal beagle, Maggie May. Follow Kate and her family on dog walks, paint outs, and birding adventures @katesnowbird on Instagram and twitter.
Do you know what your first word was? Mine was was “bird.” When I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to be friends with the birds, squirrels, and bunnies in my neighborhood. To get as close to them as possible, I’d climb “my” tree—a red Japanese maple tree planted in the center of our tiny front lawn. I’d pretend no one could see me, staying very quite and still, hoping that just one little bird would perch on my shoulder and become my friend.
Back then I drew a lot of pictures of trees, birds, and squirrels. Sometimes I drew the weather, too—tornadoes, snow, and dark clouds heavy with rain. Snow was my favorite though. I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with being born in January, leaving Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital with my parents on an blustery, snowy day. My Dad nicknamed me his “Snowbird.” Few things make me as giddy as a blizzard in the forecast. Oh, the smell of the first flurry of the season! If only I could I’d capture it in a bottle and save it for hot, humid days…
As the oldest of six kids, I learned how to make the littler ones laugh, and change diapers before I could rollerskate or ride a bike. My youngest brother was born when I was 16, so when I was a teenager, I was still singing silly songs, making arts and crafts, watching Sesame Street and Disney movies on VHS over and over and over. I took my youngest siblings on walks to the playground, and read them lots of bedtime stories. Sometimes I wrote and illustrated my own. I never outgrew the best parts of being a kid. I never felt like I had to.
Now my sisters and brothers and I are all grown up, but we’re all still very young at heart. When we get together we act out our favorite scenes from those old Sesame Street episodes and sing those Disney songs. We hike through the woods with our many dogs, make angels and forts in the snow, and talk to animals, just as always. Our childhood joy connects us to one another, no matter what else happens in our lives. It’s pretty special.
American Birding Association, Author House, Birding, BirdWatchingDaily.com, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Childcraft, Copper Mountain, Crankworx, Excelligence, Fitletic, The Flywheel Firm, John James Audubon Center, Nathan, Newark Arts Alliance, Night Kitchen Interactive, San Francisco Ballet, The Valerie Fund, Winter Park Resort, Zany Brainy.
Professional Activities & Awards
SCBWI member since 1999, PAL member since 2017
2018 Illustrator, The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat by Laurence Pringle, Boyd’s Mills Press
2018 Illustrator, Belle’s Journey by Rob Bierregaard, Charlesbridge
2017 Co-leader, The Art & Craft of Nature Writing & Illustration retreat with Julie Zickefoose, Laurence Pringle, and Rob Bierregaard at the Highlights Foundation, Honesdale, PA
2017 Illustrator, The Secret Life of the Red Fox by Laurence Pringle, Boyd’s Mills Press
2014-2015 Legacy Lost & Saved: Extinct and Endangered Birds of North America exhibit, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI
2014 The Plight of the Passenger Pigeon exhibit invitation at the John James Audubon Center, Audubon, PA
2013 Author and illustrator, San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker Interactive Storybook App
2013-2017 Scholarship recipient, The Highlights Foundation, Honesdale, PA
2012 Scholarship recipient, Pocono Mountain Retreat, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Eastern Pennsylvania
2012-2014 Volunteer, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Newark, DE
2010-2013 Freelance Art Director, Penguin Brands, Inc.
2011 Art Instructor and Exhibitor, Newark Arts Alliance, Newark, DE
2010 Gold Medal for Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, National Parenting Publication Awards
2010 Nominee, Best Children’s Music Compilation, Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, Independent Music Awards
2010 Seal of Excellence for Sing Me to Sleep: Indie Lullabies, Creative Child Magazine
2009 Honorable Mention, Barbara Karlin Grant Competition, Time To Fly
2007 Art Instructor, Alpine Arts Gallery, Granby, CO
2004-2013 Exhibiting Member (no_name) Art Group, Philadelphia, PA
2003-2005 Product Design Manager, FDG Design Group, Gladwyne, PA
1999-2003 Senior Packaging Designer, Zany Brainy & FAO Schwarz, King of Prussia, PA
University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA
–BFA in Illustration, 1997
–Thornton Oakley Medal for Excellence in Illustration, 1997
–Barbara Merton Morrison Scholarship for Fine Art, 1992