Science Book a Day Interviews Giulio Maestro

Special thanks to Giulio Maestro for answering 4 questions about the book he illustrated, which was recently featured – Our Patchwork Planet: The Story of Plate Tectonics

Giulio Maestro was born in New York City and grew up in Greenwich Village. He graduated from Music and Art High School and Cooper Union. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. He worked in advertising for five years before beginning his career as a book illustrator. Since 1969, he has illustrated more than one hundred and twenty-five books for young readers. He is also the author of a number of stories and riddle collections. – From Giulio’s Homepage

Giulio’s Homepage:

#1 – Where does the The Patchwork Planet sit in terms of your career as an illustrator? Has it informed your subsequent work?

Although I did illustrate quite a few books on science topics going back into the 1970s, these books never played a major role in my career. Many were for the “Let’s Read and Find Out” science series published by Crowell/HarperCollins. I did books on many topics but the most important for my career were stories I authored myself and the nonfiction books I worked on with my wife Betsy as part of a team. You can see some of these titles at and at other sites like Amazon. With each title I illustrated, I became more adept at researching and presenting new material. I did get work illustrating an article on plate tectonics as a result of my work on this particular book.

#2 – What do you remember about working on the book with Helen Roney Sattler?

I never actually met or spoke personally with Sattler. An illustrator usually works with the editors and the art director and not the author. The editors are also of course, in touch with the author as well. I do remember that the initial intent of both Sattler and the editors was to present this as a younger book with illustration only. After perusing the text, I felt that it was more mature and that some photographs would be useful to the reader. We used some aerial photo material for showing fault lines and such and the actual destruction caused by forces like earthquakes. The photos were obtained by the art director.

#3 – You have produced a number of books. What is your philosophy as an illustrator/writer when communicating science?

Careful research is essential as the most important factor is to be sure that everything in both text and illustration is absolutely accurate. Creating clear and simple pictures that convey the meaning of the text and enhance it is the goal. The illustrations must add to the understanding of the text and must not be confusing in any way. Using diagrams and actual maps as well as photographic material can be utilized if it will present the material more effectively.

#4 – Are you working on any new projects/books you can tell us about?

At this point I am more or less retired and not currently working on a new book. My book illustrating career lasted from 1969 through 2010 and I illustrated more than 100 books for many major publishers. I am now working on paintings with Southwest themes and am exhibiting in a local gallery. You can see some of these at if you are interested.

[Image of Giulio and his wife Betsy from – ]

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