Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Carolyn Lesser  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: 1939 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

-- Carolyn Lesser on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Lesser lived in Quincy.

Biographical and Professional Information

Carolyn Lesser is an author, poet, essayist, educator, explorer, fiber artist and photographer. As an author, she has published eight natural science books for children. Her research has taken her from the Arctic to the Antarctic, in the desert and wetlands. As an artist and designer, she has been commissioned to create liturgical and secular fiber art for churches, schools, office buildings and hospitals in the United States and South America. She also creates ceramic sculptures. Her photography includes color-saturated nature and abstracts; landscapes, portraits, nautical scenes, and fine art travel photographs. A teacher of all ages, Lesser helps others to write clearly and speak confidently. Her goal is to liberate the creative, curious, unique genius within. Lesser currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Goodnight Circle
ISBN: 0152321594

Voyager Books. 1991

The nighttime activities of many forest creatures are detailed in this gentle bedtime book. “The illustrations are singularly beautiful . . . the animals are full of vigor, faithfully observed. The quiet text and elegant illustrations reinforce one another.”--The Horn Book

The Knees Knock Again
ISBN: 0963060414

Oakwood Pr. 1991

Book by Lesser, Carolyn

Flamingo Knees
ISBN: 0963060406

Oakwood Pr. 1991

Book by Lesser, Carolyn

Dig Hole, Soft Mole
ISBN: 0152234918

Harcourt Children's Books. 1996

Enter the world of the Condylura cristata, the little-known star-nosed mole. The only mole that thrives in both earth and water, this animal lives in the wetlands of the American Midwest and southeast Canada. In this beautiful picture book, young readers get a mole’s-eye view of marsh life, following one star-nosed mole on an expedition through a dark tunnel deep underground and out into a sparkling pond. “This lyrical, read-aloud romance will endear Mole and his underworld to children.”--Publishers Weekly

Great Crystal Bear
ISBN: 0152006672

Harcourt Children's Books. 1996

Blending poetic language and scientific fact, Carolyn Lesser explores how one magnificent bear lives throughout the year. Impressionistic paintings follow the bear as he hunts, swims, plays, and journeys in the far north. Lyrical in tone and accurate in zoological detail, the narrative is ideal for one-on-one sharing.--School Library Journal

Storm on the Desert
ISBN: 0152721983

Harcourt Children's Books. 1997

A fierce summer storm dramatically affects the desert plants and animals of the American Southwest. Poetic language, stunning illustrations, and careful research combine to create a sense of the intense drama of the desert while communicating factual information about desert plants and animals. “At every stage, Lesser’s language conjures up wonderful imagery.”--Booklist

Spots: Counting Creatures from Sky to Sea
ISBN: 0152006664

Harcourt Children's Books. 1999

From one leopard ray in the open ocean to ten tundra butterflies in the Arctic sky, Carolyn Lesser’s playful language and Laura Regan’s glorious paintings celebrate the rich and varied wildlife of our earth. Each of the ten creatures presented lives in a different biome. A “More to Explore” section describes these biomes and includes information about their inhabitants.

What a Wonderful Day to be a Cow (Dragonfly Books)
ISBN: 0375802126

Dragonfly Books. 1999

Now in Dragonfly--here is a glowing picture-book celebration of farm life.

A Time magazine Top 10 Best Children's Book of the Year.

Great Polar Bear
ISBN: 163322502X

Seagrass Press. 2018

“Great polar bear...
how do you survive
on the thick ice covering the deep Arctic Sea?"

Journey into the magnificent and mysterious world of the far north in Great Polar Bear, Carolyn Lesser’s poetic and scientifically accurate story about a year in the life of a polar bear.

Learn how this impressive animal thrives in one of the harshest -- and imperiled -- environments in the world. Carolyn Lesser also makes her illustrative debut in Great Polar Bear, using collage to capture the bear hunting, swimming, and playing in the far north. Great Polar Bear is a stunning one-on-one reading and sharing title.

Originally published in 1996 as The Great Crystal Bear, this stunning edition features all-new artwork from the author.

Praise for the previous edition (The Great Crystal Bear):

“Lyrical in tone and accurate in zoological detail, the narrative is ideal for one-on-one sharing.”—School Library Journal

“In a rolling, poetic text, Lesser wonders about the life of a polar bear....She weaves her gentle musings with solid scientific information, as the bear searches for food, traps and eats a seal, and play fights with younger bears to teach them how to battle for a mate.....for primary-graders, this would make an evocative addition to a unit on the Arctic.”—Booklist

“Lesser weaves a surprising number of facts into a lyrical narrative about a year in the life of a polar bear. Readers learn how the bear's hollow white hairs gather sunlight while its black skin absorbs the heat, how it kills and eats and leaves behind meat for other, less able, animals.”—Kirkus Reviews

Great Crystal Bear is exciting, neat and fun to read. It’s a book about a polar bear and how he mates and that he eats seals.....I would recommend this to about anyone who is interested in polar bears.—Taryn Butler, 10, Gold Hill Elementary, Tega Cay, SC, GRP”—The American Scientist, The Scientific Research Society

“Great Crystal Bear is a children’s book that will also appeal to adults, providing a lyrical, impressionistic, and yet factual look at the great white bears....the book is sure to become a favorite during storytime in your house.”—San Diego Zoo member newsletter

“This is a book children will enjoy hearing and reading over and over which will inform them of the life of one solitary animal in the world of large mammals.”—The Open Book


The Goodnight Circle

  • Literacy Merit Award, Friends of American Writers in Chicago
  • 50 Best Science Books for Children, National Council of Teachers of Science and the Childrens Book Council

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)