â€œThey say if you can make a living doing what you love then you never have to work.
I havenâ€™t worked in years.â€
â€œRice is especially good with facial expressions, whether they are on a Texas jackrabbit, a longhorn steer, a dusty cowboy, or the green and long-nosed alligator named Gaston.â€
â€œRiceâ€™s detailed pictures are captivating.â€
This outpouring of praise is directed towards James Rice (1934-2004) and the outstanding list of children's books he wrote and illustrated. Widely acclaimed as the Southâ€™s leading illustrator of juvenile books, Rice lives through the more than 2.5 million books in print that feature his workâ€”a record that ranks him with top children's authors and illustrators nationally.
Cajun Night Before ChristmasÂ®, Rice's first book, has been nationally recognized as a classic in its genre. Rice lent his talents to Pelican Publishing Company's The Night Before Christmas Series, which includes the tremendously popular An Irish Night Before Christmas, Redneck Night Before Christmas, and Gullah Night Before Christmas. It was through Cajun Night Before ChristmasÂ® that Rice developed the character of GastonÂ® the Green-Nosed Alligator, who went on to have his own series of books. Several of Rice's other sixty books are set in his home state of Texas. Trail Drive is just one that both entertains and teaches children about cowboys and Western life.
Rice was born on a farm in Coleman County, Texas, and resided in Hico, Texas. He graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Texas, a master of fine arts from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a master of arts from Howard Payne University. Rice taught art and music at both high school and college levels at such schools as Southeastern Louisiana State University, Louisiana State University, and Dallas Baptist College. When not working on new books, Rice visited schools throughout the country to teach children the joys of writing and illustrating.
Rice's work has earned several awards over the years,
GastonÂ® Goes to Texas, Certificate of
Award from Printer Industries of America, 1979
The Night Before Christmas, Certificate of Merit, Printer Industries of
Why Cowboys Sleep with Their Boots On, Certificate of Merit, Printer
Industries of America 1996
Cajun Night Before Christmas, Not Just for Children Anymore Classics, CBC
The Teachers' Night Before Christmas, Children's Choices, CBC/IRA 2002
Why Cowboys Need A Pardner, Children's Books Mean Business, CBC 2002