Monday, April 21, 2014

coy, contrived and condescending, and Buzzing as loud as a Bold Brass Band

Last Tuesday I was a guest on Julie Danielson's blogSeven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Julie's questions are fun and thoughtful, and she takes great care to link to sites about the people and books referenced throughout the Q & A. Some of her links I'd never seen before. 

One link, to an Amazon placeholder  of The B Book, prompted me to photograph and upload pictures of my 1962 edition, written by Phyllis McGinley and illustrated by Robert Jones (above).

Below is a 1968 edition illustrated by  John C. Johnson, that I found on Etsy. (Thank you, Pipi Pompon.)

The B Book was the first book that I read by myself. I loved it. But the premise of the book involves a play on words that troubled my six-year-old brain.

The little protagonist named Bumble is tired of being a bee and wants to be somebody else.  He asks a big bee how to be something "Besides a Bee."  The big bee then takes Bumble on a tour of all the wonderful things (Buttercups, Butterfly, Blackbird, etc.) that begin with the letter B, explaining with each stop that "Everything Best in the world Begins with a Big Bee." By the end of the tour Bumble is happy to be a bee. WHAT?  

If I enjoy the illustration and the characters, can I ignore a big fat non sequitur? Almost.

The B Book is one of several in a beginning reader series called "Modern Masters Books For Children."  The editor of the series was the poet Louis Untermeyer. (My friend, Jennifer Thermes, lives in Untermeyer's old house!)

In looking for information on the "Modern Masters" books, I found another from my childhood via Ward Jenkins, and a review of The B Book from the 1963 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Reviewer (and the third editor of The Horn Book Magazine) Ruth Viguers found the The B Book  “limp, listless, unoriginal, mediocre and humdrum," as well as "coy, contrived, and condescending."   I sense that Viguers suspected that the entire "Modern Masters" series was a ploy to corner the snob market. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Secret World of Dr. Seuss

The touring "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss" exhibit  is on display at 
The Art Shop in Greensboro, NC through tomorrow, April 19th.

Slideshow via

Pictures from the opening here.

And if you can't get to Greensboro…

A 1944 Puppetoon  (Hat tip to Betsy Bird)

Monday, April 14, 2014

'The editors were so excited they were nearly weeping'

It's  been 25 years since the publication of  We're Going On A Bear Hunt
 Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen reminisce -

Thursday, April 10, 2014

20th Annual Children's Book Art Silent Auction and Reception at BookExpo America


Wednesday, May 28 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
River Pavilion at the Javits Center
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship, has organized an auction. All proceeds will support the Kids’ Right to Read Project, which ABFFE co-sponsors with the National Coalition Against Censorship. Buy Tickets Here!

The deadline for submitting general art is May 1 and for Seuss dedications is May 14. 

Auction to Benefit The Federation of Children’s Book Groups

Over the past year the FCBG has been collecting signatures and drawings from authors and illustrators in an autograph book. The book is now full and they are auctioning it off. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Tall Tales and Huge Hearts: Raúl Colón

North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road | Raleigh, NC | map | (919) 839-NCMA

East Building, Gallery 2
April 13–July 27, 2014

Raúl Colón, Cover Art, 2003, from Rise the Moon (Dial, 2003)
jpeg and info:

More about Raúl Colón here and here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A sweet little Hungarian film, 'Streamschool', animated with fabric characters, by Peter Vacz. Read his blogpost on the 'making of' here and here

Thanks Sandra Monat...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Pond Full of Ink

Recently, I received a copy of A POND FULL OF INK, a collection of nonsense poems written by Annie M. G. Schmidt, translated by David Colmer, and illustrated by Sieb Posthuma.

It's a mystery to me how rhyme originally written in one language can be translated into another, but I'm glad that it was. I can’t judge how close Colmer’s choice of words are to Schmidt’s Dutch. I only know that the combination of text and pictures works beautifully here. Both the poems and the artwork (done in collage, ink and watercolor) have a goofy freewheeling feel. Posthuma’s illustrations (copyright 2011) have a slightly psychedelic 1970s spirit which make them perfect for the poems (originally copyrighted in 1978).

Schmidt and Posthuma excel at inventing whimsically detailed scenes, and the book’s layout is whimsical as well. It starts with heavily saturated endpapers depicting a floating "a" on a black pond, and a little man holding a huge pen. The first poem is about this  same “fairy tale author” dipping his pen in the pond. In the last spread the little author is sleeping in a hammock next to the used-up pond. On the back endpapers he has drawn the letter "z." And in between "a" and "z" are elderly otters, walking furniture, a home-invading deer, and bears living in a residential neighborhood. (The meter of  “Are you joking, Mrs. Keller?” is so bouncy that it reads like a song.)

The poem “Aunt Sue and Uncle Steve” describes a family living in a “big old oak.” It’s not until you turn the page that you see the tree in its entirety. It has a face and numerous tiny children playing in its branches. Uncle Steve smokes his pipe in one branch and Aunt Sue rocks a baby carriage precariously harnessed from another branch. (“She’s never really worked out how / to park a stroller on a bough.”)  A boy rides a swing dangling from pulleys, and ladders are propped  to connect the different levels of the home. Crazy, funny details—perfect.

HARDCOVER; Published: 3/7/2014
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Emily Winfield Martin

Emily Winfield Martin creates her own wistful worlds, in illustrations, books, cards and toys...
emily winfield martin, banner
emily winfield martin, pansy
emily winfield martin, the costume party
emily winfield martin, kitten bandit
emily winfield martin, lydie and bear friend dolls emily winfield martin,, pretend bear doll emily winfield martin, conjoined twins doll emily winfield martin, tatooed lady doll emily winfield martin, the death of cock robin
emily winfield martin, out of the woods emily winfield martin, leviathan below
emily winfield martin, dream animals, cover
Read an interview with her at ApartmentTherapy and NerdyBookClub and below, she's talking about her book, 'Dream Animals'…
...and here's her 2012 talk at the  XOXO Arts and Technology Festival in Portland, Oregon...

…and check out Emily's adorable blog on all her vintage finds at 'SomeGirlsWanderByMistake'...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bernadette Watts and Shadra Strickland

Recently author and illustrator Shadra Strickland talked about illustrating PLEASE, LOUISE (written by Toni and Slade Morrison).  

To illustrate PLEASE, LOUISE Strickland used a wax resist technique with crayon and watercolor washes. She mentioned the work of Bernadette Watts as a "great source of inspiration." 

Wanting to know more about Bernadette Watts, I followed the link from Kirkus to an interview found here. The interview with Watts is fascinating for many reasons, including her telling of plans to sleep in the Frankfurt train station for the duration of the 1967 Frankfurt Book Fair. (If only libraries were open 24 hours a day.)

Friday, March 21, 2014


The Treehorn Trilogy by Florence Parry Heide (illustrated by Edward Gorey is "...odd, deadpan, surreal and sophisticated." Back in 2010 Bob Shea and Lane Smith asked Ms. Heide what she was thinking when she wrote and published The Shrinking of Treehorn, Treehorn's Treasure, and Treehorn's WishRead Ms. Heide's response here.

We are stardust (and pond scum)

Creatures handmade by animator and leaf-collector Lisa LaBracio
Thank you to  at Brain Pickings

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Exhibit Opening: Books on the Charles - Celebrating the Illustrators of Charlesbridge

 Belmont Gallery of Art presents "Books on the Charles - Celebrating the Illustrators of Charlesbridge" from March 30th to May 18th, with artwork from David McPhail, Ryan O'Rourke, Jamie Hogan, Brian Lies, Jef Czekaj, and many others.