Show and Tell by Dilys Evans (Chronicle Books, 2008) carries the subtitle “Exploring the fine art of children’s book illustration,” and that is what it is: a full-color coffee table style book that highlights a few of the best children’s book illustrators by examining what makes their art “fine art.” Because I love reading picture books, I really appreciated the analysis of great children’s book illustration, as well as the discussion of the illustrators’ lives, from the beginning of their interest in art to where they found their inspiration for their illustration.
In A Caldecott Celebration: Six Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal, Leonard Marcus illustrates the long road six Caldecott illustrators followed to produce to an award-winning book. This book is a combination of biography and art history as it looks at how six artists approached children’s book illustration over the last six decades.
I love the children’s books Marcus highlights, and it was truly fascinating to learn the stories behind them. The books he highlights are these (one for each decade).
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1942 Caldecott Medal winner)
- Cinderella by Marcia Brown (1955 winner)
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1964 winner)
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (1970 winner)
- Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (1982 winner)
- Tuesday by David Weisner (1992 winner)Continue Reading
When, in 1918, a clerk erroneously ordered twelve times the number of children’s books, Western Publishing Company may have faced ruin. Instead, the company persuaded Woolworth’s department stores to sell it, a practice unusual since children’s books were normally only sold during the holiday season.
Years later, in the 1930s, one publishing novice was inspired when his three-year-old tossed a picture book into the bathtub, which destroyed it, of course. He reflected at the time that
given the wear and tear to which children naturally subjected all their belongings, lower-priced books might be greatly appreciated by parents. (p 29)
Such are two very small stories illustrating how (and why) Golden Books roared to life in 1942. In Golden Legacy, Leonard Marcus shows how the development of Golden Books changed the face of children’s book publishing forever because of resourceful people who thought outside the box. For the first time, children’s books were 25 cents, and not $2 or $3. Instead of buying just one book, parents bought twelve. Children had many books at their disposal, and The Poky Little Puppy has since been the best-selling children’s picture book of all time.Continue Reading
Katharine Graham was most well-known to me for being publisher of The Washington Post during the newspaper’s reporting of Watergate. However, her life extended far beyond the walls of the Washington Post city room. In a sense, her life was a life of contrasts and similarities. After reading Katharine Graham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, Personal History, I am impressed once again with how powerful a great biography can be. I loved her story, and I loved her approach to her own life.
Katharine Graham was born to great privilege. Such a statement, however, cannot even begin to encapsulate the spoiled upbringing this woman enjoyed. As I read about her financially privileged birth, I wondered how I could like such a “spoiled brat.” However, Katharine Graham’s life illustrates that monetary security does not guarantee happiness, security, love, health, or an easy life. She grew just as anyone grows.Continue Reading