“The birth of every person is important,” says Gennady Spirin, who was born on Christmas. “But it’s very nice to have it on a big holiday. A lot of people celebrating and glorifying my birthday makes me happy.”
There are many similarities between the Russian-born illustrator and Santa Claus. Both have full white beards, eyes that twinkle, cheeks that are merry and generous spirits. Mr. Spirin believes in miracles and can make magic with the stroke of his brush. And, like Father Christmas, he does his best work in the wee hours.
Of the 40 books he has illustrated, at least four revolve around the Christmas theme: The Nutcracker (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 1996), Joy to the World (Atheneum Books for New Readers, 2000), The Christmas Story (Henry Holt & Co., 1998) and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (to be published in 2006 by Stewart Tabori & Chang). Several years ago, he illustrated the poster for McCarter Theatre’s A Christmas Carol.
He has just released “We Three Kings,” and will celebrate with a book and print signing at The Artful Deposit Dec. 6, 1-3 p.m.
His is certainly a fairytale world, with quaint villages tucked into snow-covered mountains, Russian-inspired architecture with glittering gilded onion domes, czarinas in jewels and princes in fine frocks, angels with magnificently feathered wings “…capturing all the magic and mystery of the long ago and far away…” (School Library Journal).