Monday, April 17, 2017

Make Way for Illustrators

An original drawing from Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, published in 1948

One of the most popular books in American children's literature is Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, about a mother duck and her babies and their walk around the streets of Boston. This book provides the title for an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston of original sketches, drawings, and paintings from McCloskey's books. And it's a delight for those of us who love the work of this author illustrator. In our family the favorites were Burt Dow, Deep Water Man, Blueberries for Sal, Time of Wonder, and One Morning in Maine. The illustrations in McCloskey's early books were drawings, due to the high expense of publishing in color during WWII. The originals of those drawings shown in the exhibit are simply beautiful, and the paintings which appear in later books are lovely. I may have to go back and see it again before the exhibit closes on June 18th.

Cover of Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day, published in 1985

Seeing the McCloskey exhibit brought to mind another children's book whose illustrations I loved when our son was young, Good Dog, Carl. The story is told by the illustrations, there is no text, which makes it great for non-readers. The pastel illustrations are beautifully done by Alexandra Day (Sandra Louise Woodward Darling). I just discovered that since Carl was a good dog in 1985 there have been 14 more Carl books published. I've got some non-reading to do! 

Cover of The Night Has Ears by Ashley Bryan published in 1999

And finally I'd like to tell you about the latest author illustrator that I've become acquainted with, Ashley Bryan. I came to know of Bryan through his friendship with Henry Isaacs, and had the pleasure of hearing them speak together. His paintings are rich and colorful and I'm just starting to dip into his books. The first black student at Cooper Union, Bryan recognized a void in African American children's literature which he has filled with 50 books. Last spring when I was in New York City, I immediately recognized his work commissioned for several subway stations. What a treat! Bryan has work in the current show at Greenhut Galleries in Portland, ME.

Thanks to Bruce McMillan for his explanation of the illustration publishing process.

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