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Home > Children’s Authors > Demi

Demi
Photo of Demi

Demi is the award-winning author and illustrator of over 130 bestselling children’s books, including The Empty Pot, Jesus, Buddha, The Dalai Lama, One Grain of Rice, The Boy Who Painted Dragons, and The Legend of Saint Nicholas. For Wisdom Tales Press, she has written and illustrated Saint Francis of Assisi and The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna and illustrated The Conference of the Birds (retold by Alexis York Lumbard), The Pandas and Their Chopsticks: and Other Animal Stories, and, most recently, Mahavira: The Hero of Nonviolence by Dr. Manoj Jain. Demi’s most recent book for Wisdom Tales is a children’s biography of Abraham Lincoln titled President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House.

Famous children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola wrote about the work of Demi and Alexis York Lumbard in The Conference of the Birds, saying “Congratulations on a lovely book. You [both] have made a wonderful contribution to the world of children’s literature… Please, keep up the good work!”

Demi has loved drawing and painting since she was a child in New England, and she now takes up her brushes and paints every day. This is because painting, for her, is like breathing. Demi has said that her “magical grandfather” (writer Arthur Stanwood Pier) was her main inspiration in becoming a writer and illustrator of children’s books.

Demi’s books have sold over half a million copies and her work has been appreciated by many diverse people across the globe, such as the Dalai Lama and the Pope. The Empty Pot, her best-selling title, was selected by former First Lady Barbara Bush as one of the books to be read on the ABC Radio Network Program Mrs. Bush’s Story Time, sponsored by the Children’s Literacy Initiative. Demi’s book Gandhi was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award.

Demi’s book about the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, was named a Kirkus Editors’ Choice selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice selection, one of the Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth, and a Book Links “Lasting Connections” selection. It was cited in a Publishers Weekly starred review as a “timely, exceptionally handsome biography [that] serves as an excellent introduction to Islam and it won The Middle East Book Award.”

Demi was born Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her father was an architect, actor, entrepreneur, and a prominent producer and patron of the theatre, who was awarded the French Legion of Honor for introducing to America the internationally acclaimed French actor and mime, Marcel Marceau. Demi’s mother was also an artist and was her mentor. Throughout her childhood Demi enjoyed spending time in her mother’s art studio and loved painting from a very young age.

Demi studied art at the Instituto Allende, Guanajuanto, Mexico, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 from Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, California, having studied with Sister Corita. She continued her formal studies of art at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1962. And, she was a Fulbright scholar at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India, where she received her Master’s degree. She also furthered her graduate studies at the China Institute. From there she settled in New York, where she began her career as an illustrator.

Demi’s favorite watercolors in children’s books are by Beatrix Potter and she her favorite story is In the Forest by Marie Hall Ets. Since her childhood she has been particularly interested in East Asia. However, she has written about many different cultures, traditions, and religions, including Chinese and Japanese fables, and Persian and Indian legends. Her Chinese husband, Tze-si “Jesse” Huang, told Demi the story of The Empty Pot and The Magic Pillow. He remembered these tales from his childhood in China where his grandmother used to tell him ancient stories. Demi and Jesse worked together on the Wisdom Tales book called Master of Zen.

In 1992, Demi and her husband represented the United States at the First Children’s International Book Conference in Beijing, China. They live outside of Seattle, Washington.

Photo of Demi backstage with ballerinas at the opera based on her book ‘The Empty Pot’Demi backstage with ballerinas
at the opera based on her book
The Empty Pot
Photo of Demi with her sister and father in front of their old New England farmhouseDemi with her sister and father in front of their old New England farmhouse
Photo of Demi on a camel in Saurasthra IndiaDemi on a camel in Saurasthra, India
Photo of Demi with husband, Tze-si HuangDemi with her husband,
Tze-si “Jesse” Huang

Fascinating Facts about Demi:

  • Demi’s first name is actually Charlotte. She earned her nickname as a young child when her father started calling her “demi” because she was half the size of her sister.
  • A portrait of Demi’s great-grandfather, the painter
    William Morris Hunt
  • Did you know that Demi comes from a famous family? It is one of the preeminent families in American art. She is the great-granddaughter of the American painter William Morris Hunt, who was the leading painter of the mid-19th century in Boston, Massachusetts. The William Morris Hunt Library of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is named in his honor. She is also the great-grandniece of architect Richard Morris Hunt, who designed the facade and Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, and the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
  • She attributes her interest in telling stories, reading many children’s books, and her creativity as a child to her grandfather’s influence. His name was Arthur Stanwood Pier and he was a professor of English at Harvard and Radcliffe. He was an author himself and wrote several children’s books, but he is most known for his boarding school stories, the The Boys of St. Timothy’s series. Grandpa Arthur would tell Demi and her siblings all kinds of fascinating stories and ask them to use their imagination and finish the tales.

Awards for this Author’s Wisdom Tales Books


  • Master of Zen: Extraordinary Teachings from Hui Neng’s Altar Sutra:
    • USA “Best Books 2012” Award in the “Religion: Buddhism” category
    • Silver Medal from (MIPA) Midwest Independent Publishers Association for the "Religion/Philosophy" category
  • The Conference of the Birds (retold by Alexis York Lumbard):
    • Finalist in the USA “Best Books 2012” Awards (sponsored by USA Book News) in the categories “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction,” “Best New Children's Picture Book,” and “Best Interior Design.”
    • Finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award for “Picture Books.”
    • Silver Medals from (MIPA) Midwest Independent Publishers Association for the "Illustration: Graphic" and "Interior Lay Out" categories.
  • Saint Francis of Assisi:
    • Finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award for “Juvenile Nonfiction”
  • The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna:
    • “Highly Commended Book” for the 2014 South Asia Book Awards
    • Silver Medals in the Midwest Independent Publishers Association 2013 Midwest Book Awards in the “Illustration: Graphic” and “Interior Lay Out” categories
    • Finalist for the USA Book News “Best Children's Picture Book”
    • Finalist for Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year award in the “Juvenile Nonfiction” category
  • Mahavira: The Hero of Nonviolence (written by Manoj Jain):
    • Winner in the “Children's Religious” category of The USA “Best Books 2014” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
    • Gold Medal in the “Children’s Nonfiction” category of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
    • Honor Award in the 2015 Skipping Stones Honor Awards, in the category “Multicultural & International Books”
  • The Pandas and Their Chopsticks: and Other Animal Stories:
    • Winner in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the USA “Best Books 2014” Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
    • Gold Medal in the “Illustration – Graphic” category, and Silver Medals in the “Cover” and “Interior Layout” categories of the 2014 Midwest Book Awards
    • Bronze Book of the Year Award from Foreword Magazine
  • When the Animals Saved Earth: An Eco-Fable (retold by Alexis York Lumbard):
    • Winner in the “Picture Book” category of the 2015 Middle East Book Awards
    • Award-Winner in the “Children's Mind/Body/Spirit” category of the 2015 USA “Best Book” Awards

Author Extras & Links


  • Demi did an interview with papertigers.org, which can be read online. Along with the interview, there are many photographs of interesting objects and areas in her house. Click here to read Demi’s interview with papertigers.org. Papertigers.org is a website about books in English for young readers. It embraces multicultural books from or about anywhere in the world, with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim and South Asia. PaperTigers offers a wealth of book-related resources for teachers, librarians, parents and all those interested in the world of children's and young adult books.


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