American Girl Wiki

Renée Graef is a child's illustrator. She has illustrated a few Historical Character books.


Renée Graef was born in Sheboygan and grew up in Greendale, a suburb of Milwaukee. She graduated from UW-Madison in 1980 with a degree in art, and since then she has illustrated over 70 books for children,including the Kirsten series in the popular American Girl Collection. She is a prolific and versatile illustrator, using styles ranging from the whimsical to realistic, from historical to contemporary. Her detailed paintings for the new HarperCollins editions of Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House series echo those of Garth Williams, whose work is so widely associated with the classic series. Her attention to historical detail and ability to capture the spirit of a well-known story is aptly demonstrated in her illustrations for Janet Shulman's retelling of E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker. Here Graef's talent for depicting both whimsy and realism come together in her glowing images, which overflow with period details from nineteenth-century Germany.

Much of Graef's work has a clear Wisconsin connection, from her illustrations for the Wisconsin-based Pleasant Company to art depicting Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early years in Pepin County, which is on the Wisconsin/ Minnesota border, not far from St. Paul. Her illustrations for Kathy-jo Wargin's B Is for Badger: A Wisconsin Alphabet Book show her fine attention to detail, from the cattails of Horicon Marsh to the Packer-backers of Green Bay.

Taken from the Wisconsin Book Festival site.

Illustrated Works

American Girl


  • The My First Little House Series
  • My Favorite Things
  • The Nutcracker
  • If Jesus Came to Visit Me
  • If Jesus Walked Beside Me
  • Our Big, Big God
  • Everyday Prayers
  • B Is For Bookworm: A Library Alphabet
  • Are You Sleepy Yet, Petey?
  • While You Were Away
  • Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart
  • 3-Minute Stories: Bedtime Tales
  • I Am Good at Being Me
  • Who Carved the Mountain?: The Story of Mount Rushmore]]


The Crystal Book 2008 Award of Excellence

  • Top Award in the Chicago Book Clinic's Children's Picture Book category for A Girl Named Dan by Dandi Daley Mackall (Sleeping Bear Press)

2008/2009 Prairie Pasque Award

  • Nominee for Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore by Jean L.S. Patrick (Mount Rushmore History Association)

Children's Book Committee - Bank Street College, New York

  • 2007 Best Books of the Year for Paul Bunyan's Sweetheart by Marybeth Loriecki (Sleeping Bear Press)

2006 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY Award)

Won for B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet by Anita C. Prieto (Sleeping Bear Press) Place Honorable Mention for Who Carved the Mountain? The Story of Mount Rushmore by Jean L.S. Patrick (Mount Rushmore History Association)

Wisconsin Gubernational Proclamation (Governor Jim Doyle)

  • Honoring Renée Graef's work in children's book illustration

Wisconsin State House of Representatives Resolution (Madison, Wisconsin)

  • Citing Renée Graef's accomplishments in illustration.

See also