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Rosemary Wells
Born (1943-01-29) January 29, 1943 (age 79)
Alma mater Boston Museum School
Occupation Freelance author and illustrator
Years active 1968–present
Spouse(s) Thomas Moore Wells (Married 1963; died 2002)
Children Victoria, Marguerite

Rosemary Wells (born January 29, 1943) is an American writer and illustrator of children's books. She is well known for using animal characters to address real human issues. Some of her most well-known characters are Max & Ruby (later adapted into a Canadian-animated preschool television series, which aired on Nickelodeon (part of Nick Jr. block) since 2002), Noisy Nora, and Yoko.


Wells was born in New York City and raised in Red Bank, New Jersey. Her mother was a ballerina with the Ballet Ruse de Monte Carlo and her father was a playwright. She began drawing at age two. When Wells was nineteen, she attended the Boston Museum School where she studied illustration. Before becoming an author and illustrator, Wells worked as an art editor for Allyn and Bacon, Inc and as an art designer for Macmillan Publishing. In 1963, she married architect Thomas Moore Wells, with whom she has two daughters, and in 1968, she published her first book, an illustrated version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s A Song to Sing, O!. She has since published more than 60 books in her over 30 year career.

A common theme in Rosemary Wells' stories is the use of animal characters rather than humans. In the children's journal Stone Soup, Wells explained that she writes using animals because it allows her to address sophisticated, controversial topics in way children can understand and adults can accept. For example, Yoko tackles the thorny topic of racism. It is about a young Japanese kitten who is ostracized when she brings sushi in her school lunch. At the book's conclusion, she gains acceptance by hosting a school luncheon where everyone brings food native to their family. Many of the animal characters, such as those in Max & Ruby, interact with one another much as humans would, while others such as McDuff – a West Highland Terrier – take on a more realistic role as the adopted pet of a young couple.


Children's books


Library of Congress catalog records imply that these six are children's picture books.

  • Impossible, Possum (1971), written by Ellen Conford
  • A Hot Thirsty Day (1971), by Marjorie W. Sharmat
  • Two Sisters and Some Hornets (1972), by Beryl Epstein and Dorrit Davis
  • Unfortunately Harriet (1972)
  • Noisy Nora (1973)
  • Benjamin & Tulip (1973)
  • Abdul
  • Bingo
  • Carry Me!
  • Doris's Dinosaur
  • Edward the Unready series
    • Edward Unready for School
    • Edward's Overwhelming Overnight
    • Edward in Deep Water
  • Emily's First 100 Days of School
  • Emily's Middle School
  • Felix Feels Better
  • Felix Stands Tall
  • Fiona's Little Lie
  • Fritz and the Mess Fairy
  • Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein Favorites
  • Good Night Fred
  • Goodnight Lucas
  • Hazel's Amazing Mother
  • I Love You: A Bushel and a Peck
  • Kindergators series
    • Hands Off, Harry!
    • Miracle Melts Down
  • Lassie
  • Lassie Come-Home
  • Love Waves
  • Max & Ruby series
    • Baby Max & Ruby: Clean-Up Time
    • Baby Max & Ruby: Peek-a-Boo
    • Baby Max & Ruby: Red Boots
    • Baby Max & Ruby: Shopping
    • Bunny Cakes
    • Bunny Mail
    • Bunny Money
    • Bunny Party
    • Goodnight Max
    • Hooray for Max
    • Max & Ruby in Pandora's Box – Max & Ruby's First Greek Myth
    • Max & Ruby Play School
    • Max & Ruby's Bedtime Book
    • Max & Ruby's Busy Week
    • Max & Ruby's Midas: Another Greek Myth
    • Max & Ruby's Preschool Pranks
    • Max & Ruby's Show and Tell
    • Max & Ruby's Snowy Day
    • Max & Ruby's Storybook Collection
    • Max Cleans Up
    • Max Counts His Chickens
    • Max Drives Away
    • Max's ABC
    • Max's Bath
    • Max's Bedtime
    • Max's Birthday
    • Max's Breakfast
    • Max's Bunny Business
    • Max's Chocolate Chicken
    • Max's Christmas
    • Max's Christmas Stocking
    • Max's Dragon Shirt
    • Max's First Word
    • Max's New Suit
    • Max's Ride
    • Max's Snowsuit
    • Max's Toys
    • Max's Work of Art
    • Play with Max & Ruby
    • Read to Your Bunny
    • Ruby's Beauty Shop
    • Ruby's Cupcakes
    • Ruby's Falling Leaves
    • Ruby's Tea for Two
  • McDuff series
    • McDuff and Friends
    • McDuff and the Baby
    • McDuff Comes Home
    • McDuff Goes to School
    • McDuff Moves In
    • McDuff Saves the Day
    • McDuff Steps Out
    • McDuff Stories
    • McDuff's Favorite Things
    • McDuff's Hide-and-Seek
    • McDuff's New Friend; reissued as McDuff's Christmas
    • McDuff's Wild Romp
  • Morris's Disappearing Bag
  • Mother Goose series (illustrator only)
  • My Kindergarten
  • My Shining Star
  • Night Sounds, Morning Colors
  • Old MacDonald
  • Otto Runs for President
  • Peabody
  • Shy Charles
  • Sophie series
    • Sophie’s Christmas Surprise
    • Sophie’s Halloween Disguise
    • Sophie's Terrible Twos
    • Ten Kisses for Sophie
    • Time Out for Sophie
    • Use Your Words Sophie
  • Stanley and Rhoda
  • Stella's Starliner
  • Tell Me a Trudy (illustrator only)
  • The Bear Went Over the Mountain
  • The Christmas Mystery (illustrator only)
  • The Gulps (writer only)
  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • The Miraculous Tale of the Two Maries
  • Timothy Goes to School
  • Voyage to the Bunny Planet series
    • First Tomato
    • The Island Light
    • Moss Pillows
  • Yoko series
    • Yoko
    • Yoko Learns to Read
    • Yoko Writes Her Name
    • Yoko's Paper Cranes
    • Yoko's Show-and-Tell
    • Yoko's World of Kindness
    • Bubble Gum Radar
    • Yoko Finds Her Way

Other books

  • Fog Comes on Little Pig Feet (1972)
  • Following Grandfather
  • Help Children Cope with Divorce
  • Help Children Cope with Grief
  • House in the Mail
  • Lincoln and His Boys
  • Mary on Horseback
  • My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Boyhood, written with Secundino Fernandez, illustrated by Peter Ferguson
  • On the Blue Comet, illus. Bagram Ibatoulline
  • Red Moon at Sharpsburg
  • Streets of Gold
  • Through the Hidden Door
  • Leave Well Enough Alone
  • The Man in the Woods
  • When No One Was Looking
  • Little Bunny, Big Germs

Awards and recognition

Rosemary Wells's books have received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Horn Book Magazine. She has been nominated for numerous awards such as the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Black-Eyed Susan Award, the Red Clover Award, and the Beehive Award. She has won the following:

  • Irma S. and James H. Black Award, 1975 - Morris's Disappearing Bag
  • Virginia Readers Choice Award, 1987 - Man in the Woods
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, 1989 - Shy Charles
  • Parents Choice Award, 2014 - Stella's Starliner
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