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Durga Yael Bernhard — Life and Work
This site includes Durga Yael Bernhard’s biography, photos, links, and more.
Durga Yael Bernhard
Durga Yael  Bernhard
Detailed Information on Durga Yael Bernhard
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Biography of Durga Yael Bernhard

D. Yael Bernhard is a busy writer and illustrator of books on many subjects, primarily for children. Her first work published by Wisdom tales were her playful and expressive illustrations for Never Say a Mean Word Again (2014), which was written by Jacqueline Jules. Another book featuring Ms. Bernhard’s sense of color, design, fun, and different places and times is The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah (2014), written by Martha Seif Simpson. Bernhard again collaborated with author Simpson by illustrating another toyshop tale, Esther’s Gragger (2018). Ms. Bernhard has also written (in verse) as well as illustrated a unique children’s book, Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree: Exploring Trees Around the World (2015). It is about the sense of wonder and adventure a child would experience climbing some exotic trees of the world. All of D. Yael Bernhard’s books for Wisdom Tales have won awards, which are listed below.

Ms. Bernhard was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and she began painting at the age of 13. Her education is a mix of formal art training at the Art Students’ League of New York, the School of Visual Arts, and SUNY Purchase. Ms. Bernhard has also participated in extensive independent study through travel to museums all over the United States and Europe.

Most of Ms. Bernhard’s artwork is painted in gouache (opaque watercolors that are prepared with a binding agent). She is also known for her bold and resonant imagery in black & white, linoleum block prints, and for the natural surfaces she sometimes employs such as birch bark and hemp fiber. Her work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotion, and publicity for religious and ecological causes. Ms. Bernhard has also done some portraits of animals, people, and houses.

D. Yael Bernhard is the illustrator of many children’s books, including fiction and non-fiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. Also a student and teacher of West African dance and drum, Yael brings a variety of influences to her work, including a strong grounding in rhythm and design, and a deep love of African culture, Eastern and Western religion, and the natural world. Her experience mothering three children has also shaped some of her most notable works.

Books/DVDs containing the work of Durga Yael Bernhard

Books by D. Yael Bernhard for Wisdom Tales Press (an imprint of World Wisdom):

  • Esther’s Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim (illustrator, written by Martha Seif Simpson)
    • Gold Medal in the “Children’s Fiction” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
    • Silver Medal in the “Children’s Picture Books” category of the 2020 Midwest Book Awards
  • Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree (written and illustrated by D. Yael Bernhard)
    • Silver Medal in the “Interior Design” category of the 2015 Midwest Book Awards
  • The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah (illustrator, written by Martha Seif Simpson)
    • Award-Winning Finalist in the “Children's Religious” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards
    • Finalist in the 2015 Benjamin Frankin Awards in the category “Interior Design (3 or more Color; Children’s/Young Adult)”
  • Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain (illustrator, written by Jacqueline Jules)
    • Chosen as an Honor Book in the 2015 Sydney Taylor Book Awards, “Younger Reader” category (sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries)
    • Finalist of the 2014 National Jewish Book Awards in the category “Illustrated Children’s Books” (sponsored by the Jewish Book Council)
    • 2014 Aesop Accolade, awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society
    • Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards
    • Honorable Mention in the “Picture Book” category of the 2014 Middle East Book Awards

Quotes on Durga Yael Bernhard

In a review of Never Say a Mean Word Again in ForeWord Reviews, Beth VanHouten wrote: “Durga Yael Bernhard has constructed appealing acrylic illustrations, with Moorish-influenced designs. Her muted color choices and smooth designs complement the text wonderfully, calmly propelling the story forward.… Never Say a Mean Word Again: A Tale from Medieval Spain has an admirable story guided by marvelous illustrations that will inspire children and adults.”

Online Resources about Durga Yael Bernhard

D. Yael Bernhard has an extensive website of her own that features her artwork, along with more biographical information, information about exhibitions, etc., a web store, and more. Click here to explore her multi-faceted web site.
Ms. Bernhard maintains a “Children's Book Blog” with lots more about her life, work, and thoughts. The blog, naturally, has more of a personal touch to it with Ms. Bernhard’s comments on various subjects. Readers can click here to go to D. Yael Bernhard’s blog.
Ms. Bernhard also has an author page on the Wisdom Tales Press website. You can visit that page by clicking here.

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