Mei Matsuoka is a Japanese-English children’s illustrator and author.
Born 27 March 1981 in Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan, Matsuoka spent the early part of her childhood there before moving to England at the age of 11, settling in the Cotswolds.
She graduated from Kingston University with a BA Hons in Illustration & Animation, and has since been working as a freelance illustrator, specialising in children’s books.
“My time at Kingston was a major learning curve. I discovered all sorts of illustrators and artists that I have come to really admire.
The opportunity to work as a freelance illustrator and children’s book author came about as a result of my final year exhibition – after this I was contacted by publishers and agents, who I then went on to work with.”
Mei’s first picture book, ‘Burger Boy’, developed in collaboration with writer Alan Durant, won the Portsmouth Children’s Book Award in 2007.
She also won first prize for a short story in the All Nippon Airways (ANA)’s environmental picture book competition. Her winning story was printed and distributed on all ANA flights for a year.
Matsuoke wrote and illustrated her book Footprints in the Snow, which was published by Andersen Press in 2007. This book was shortlisted for the “Read it Again! The Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Awards” in December 2007.
In January 2008, the book was longlisted for the Booktrust Big Pictures’s “Best New Illustrator Award”. Footprints in the Snow has also been nominated for the 2009 Kate Greenaway Medal.
Footprints in the Snow has also been translated into Welsh. Published by Cymdeithas Lyfrau Ceredigion under the title Olion yn yr Eira, it was 10th on the Welsh Books Council’s list of children’s bestsellers in September 2007.
Mai has since worked on a number of other books for both the UK and Japanese markets.
In her spare time she says she enjoys creating animations, snowboarding, watching old films and is learning Arabic and philosophy!