Rotraut Susanne Berner (1948) is an illustrator and picture book author. She studied Graphic Art at Munich University of Applied Sciences and has been working as a freelance designer and illustrator since 1977. As well as producing (book cover) illustrations for novels and children’s books written by others, she also writes her own picture books and has won the annual German Children’s Literature Award (Jugendliteraturpreis) for the Best Children's or Young Adult Book on several occasions. In 2006 she was awarded the German Literature Prize for her complete oeuvre. Her work became well known in the Netherlands in 1997 when she won a Zilveren Penseel (Silver Paintbrush) award for her picture book Het Avontuur [The Adventure], which proved to be a real breakthrough. Four years later she won a second Zilveren Penseel for De prinses komt om vier uur [The Princess Is Coming at Four] written by Wolfdietrich Schnurre. She created the gift book Dag Hoed! [Bye Bye Hat!] for Dutch Children’s Book Week 2002 and in 2005 won a Vlag en Wimpel award for Al mijn later is met jou [All my later is with you], a collection of poems compiled by Edward van de Vendel.
As well as endeavouring to ensure that her illustrations reflect the content of a book and the mood of the text, she also wants her drawings to add something. Her illustrations are characterised by her use of bright and cheerful colours on a white background. She also incorporates lots of humorous details. She claims to be influenced by the work of the German illustrators Walter Trier and Wilhelm Busch. Her books are translated throughout the world.
In Munich, where she still lives and works, she has a small gallery where she shows illustrations. She also publishes Die Tollen Hefte [Far-out Booklets], a series of wonderful limited-edition reprints of rare illustrated literary novels and biographies with flat-printed graphics. The series, which is highly coveted by collectors, was initially created by her late husband Armin Abmeier who died in 2012. She has since taken over as publisher.
Who am I?‘I admire the work of Dick Bruna. Children of different cultures throughout the world can all identify with his characters. The title of my statue is Who am I?, because Miffy has so many different faces. This allows children to decide which of the faces they identify with.’