Cornelia Funke was born in 1958 in the town of Dorsten in Westphalia, Germany to Karl-Heinz and Helmi Funke. As a child, she wanted to become an astronaut and/or a pilot, but then decided to study pedagogy at the University of Hamburg. After finishing her studies, Funke worked for three years as a social worker. During her social work she focused on working with children who came from deprived backgrounds. She had a stint illustrating books, but soon began writing her own stories, inspired by the sorts of stories that had appealed to the deprived children she had worked with. During the late 1980s and the 1990s, Funke established herself in Germany with two children's series, namely the fantasy-oriented Gespensterjäger (Ghosthunters) and the Wilde Hühner (Wild Chicks) line of books. Funke has been called "the J. K. Rowling" of Germany; although she was highly successful in Germany, the first of her books to be translated into English was Herr der Diebe in 2002. It was subsequently released as The Thief Lord by Scholastic and made it to the number 2 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list. The fantasy novel Dragon Rider (2004) stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 78 weeks. Following the success of The Thief Lord and Dragon Rider, her next novel was Inkheart (2003), which won the 2004 BookSense Book of the Year Children's Literature award. Inkheart was the first part of a trilogy which was continued with Inkspell (2005), which won Funke her second BookSense Book of the Year Children's Literature award (2006). The trilogy was concluded in Inkdeath (published in Germany in 2007, English version Spring 2008, American version Fall 2008). Born in the small town of Orekhovo-Zuevo, near Moscow, Spirin studied at the Moscow Art School at the Academy of Arts, then at the Moscow Stroganov Institute. Over the years he developed his own, unique style, combining traditional Russian contemporary art technique with the great traditions of the Renaissance. In 1979, Spirin came to international attention through his impressive illustrations for a variety of children’s books. In a short time, he was winning awards and gaining honors throughout the world. In 1983, he was named “Winner of the Golden Apple” at the “Biennale of Illustrations” in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, for his illustrations in the book Marissa and the Gnome.Gennady won the 1990 Austrian State Prize for his work in The Fool and the Fish, which was also named one of the year’s best-illustrated children’s books by The New York Times. That august publication subsequently cited Spirin’s work in Gulliver’s Travels in Lilliput (1993) and Kashtahka (1995). In 1991 Spirin received the first prize “Fiera di Bologna” for his work in the book Sorotchintsy Fair. He has also received three gold medals in three successive years from the Society of Illustrators, for his paintings in Boots and the Glass Mountain (1992), The Children of Lir (1993), and The Frog Princess (1994)—then, again, for the fourth time in 1996 for The Tale of Tsar Saltan. Kashtahka was something of a landmark for Spirin. In addition to the aforementioned award, his illustrations for this volume were also bestowed with first prize in the 1994 “Premi Internacional Catalonia D’Illustracio” in Barcelona, Spain and a “Parent’s Choice” Honor. In all of Spirin’s work, his sense of design and artistic skill elevates his illustration work to a fine art level, showcasing his fascinating characters in a lush environment that combines to create an artistic experience like no other.