D. Yael Bernhard Author-Illustrator Biography on wisdomtalespress.com

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Home > Children's Authors > D. Yael Bernhard

Durga Yael Bernhard
Photo of Durga Yael Bernhard

D. Yael Bernhard is a busy writer and illustrator of books on many subjects, primarily for children. She wrote (in verse) and illustrated a very special book for Wisdom Tales titled Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree: Exploring Trees Around the World. It is about the sense of wonder and adventure a child would experience climbing some exotic trees of the world. Ms. Bernhard has also worked as an illustrator with several Wisdom Tales authors on some other books. The first of these was on the award-winning book Never Say a Mean Word Again, which was written by Jacqueline Jules. She has paired with author Martha Seif Simpson on two books: the award-winning The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah, and, more recently, Esther‘s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim.

Ms. Bernhard was raised in New York's Hudson Valley and she began painting at the age of 13. Her education is a mix of formal art training at the Art Students' League of New York, the School of Visual Arts, and SUNY Purchase. Ms. Bernhard has also participated in extensive independent study through travel to museums all over the United States and Europe.

Most of Ms. Bernhard's artwork is painted in gouache (opaque watercolors that are prepared with a binding agent). She is also known for her bold and resonant imagery in black & white, linoleum block prints, and for the natural surfaces she sometimes employs such as birch bark and hemp fiber. Her work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotion, and publicity for religious and ecological causes. Ms. Bernhard has also done some portraits of animals, people, and houses.

Ms. Bernhard is the illustrator of numerous children's books, including fiction and non-fiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. Also a student and teacher of West African dance and drum, Durga brings a variety of influences to her work, including a strong grounding in rhythm and design, and a deep love of African culture, Eastern and Western religion, and the natural world. Her experience mothering three children has also shaped some of Durga's most notable works.

D. Yael Bernhard lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York with her family. When she is not painting, she spends her free time dancing, running, hiking, drumming, hunting, gardening, and practicing yoga.


More on Writer and Illustrator D. Yael Bernhard:

diamond bullet pointD. Yael Bernhard has an extensive website that features her artwork, along with more biographical information, information about exhibitions, etc., a web store, and more. Click here to explore her multi-faceted web site!

diamond bullet pointMs. Bernhard maintains a “Children's Book Blog” with lots more about her life and work. This site has a less formal and thus a more personal feel to it that will appeal to many of her fans and readers. Click here to go to D. Yael Bernhard’s blog.

Awards for this Author’s Wisdom Tales Books

  • Esther‘s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim (written by Martha Seif Simpson):
    • Gold Medal in the “Children’s Fiction” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
    • Silver Medal in the “Children’s Picture Books” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
    • Finalist in the “Children Mind/Body/Spirituality” category of the 2020 Best Book Awards
  • The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah (written by Martha Seif Simpson):
    • Finalist in the “Children's Religious” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards
    • Finalist in the 2015 Benjamin Frankin Awards in the category “Interior Design (3 or more Color; Children’s/Young Adult)”
  • Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree: Exploring Trees Around the World:
    • Silver Medal in the “Interior Design” category of the 2015 Midwest Book Awards
  • Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain (written by Jacqueline Jules):
    • Chosen as an Honor Book in the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, “Younger Reader” category (sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries)
    • Finalist of the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards in the category “Illustrated Children’s Books” (sponsored by the Jewish Book Council)
    • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2014 Middle East Book Awards
    • Recipient of a 2014 Aesop Accolade, awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society
    • Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of The USA “Best Books 2014” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
    • Selected as one of 10 “Best Spiritual Children's Books” of 2014 by Spirituality & Practice (www.spiritualityandpractice.com)
    • Honor Award in the 2015 Skipping Stones Honor Awards, in the category “Multicultural & International Books”
Pages 20-11 from the book “Never Say a Mean Word Again”, written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard

A sample of a page written by Martha Seif Simpson and illustrated by Durga Yael
Bernhard for the book The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah

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