Native New Yorker Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène brings a host of diverse artistic gifts and academic accomplishments to her work as a children’s book author. After dancing professionally in New York and Paris, Cyndie combined a career in opera performance with doctoral studies in Russian Literature at Penn and Columbia and received numerous awards and fellowships in both fields; in addition to her work in Russian, Cyndie also holds a diplôme de langue from the Alliance française-Paris. Critical praise for her singing has been unhesitating, and her recording of the lead role in Matthew Greenbaum’s opera, A Floating Island, will be released on Centaur in 2006.
In 1997 Cyndie brought together her expertise in music, movement and the plastic arts to create HiArt! -- an interdisciplinary introduction to high art aesthetics for young children -- long recognized as New York City’s leading workshop for children in the contemporary arts. With its child-centered, interdisciplinary approach to "highbrow" works of music, literature and art, HiArt! has created a realm in which young children learn to become active, rather than passive, participants in a wide range of contemporary art forms.
As a result of her notable work with young children, Cyndie was asked to help in the preparation of Disney’s Little Einsteins. Then, Scholastic’s Continuities division called upon Cyndie to bring the HiArt! philosophy to their newest art-based book club: Kidsketch -- a hands-on series of books/kits designed to teach second and third graders about making art. In collaboration with Scholastic, Cyndie developed, wrote and art directed four fantastically engaging and informative books: Cartoon How-To, From Zero to Hero: How to Draw Comics and Manga, Flipping Out: How to Draw Flip Animation and The Ultimate How to Draw Real Stuff Book. Cyndie’s cheerfully unpretentious, kid-friendly prose, thoughtful choice of materials and thorough presentation drew raves not only from children and their parents, but from major editorial figures, as well.
In the wake of her success with Kidsketch, Cyndie has continued to develop books designed to combine an intelligent, child-centered synthesis of recognizable skills and materials -- language, cultural history, musical repertoire, art and critical thinking -- in a "Can Do!" format. Like the HiArt! workshops, Cyndie’s books have a broad appeal, not only to children -- who love the hip (but literate) language, provocative, intelligent content, sense of adventure and captivating visuals -- but to their adult companions as well. The books’ artistic platform, based in real art and artmaking -- not a watered-down children’s version -- offers a visually compelling tool with which children can either venture forth on their own or share their discoveries with the adults in their lives.