Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Celebration of Our Family's Favorite Children's Book Illustrators

This post is based on a meme I participated in on Facebook.

It was so much fun to pick out favorite illustrators, but I wasn't able to include all of them on Facebook. These are from a list I just made of ones whose illustrations, especially (but also stories since many of them are both author and illustrator) had a huge impact on our family - and are really, in many ways, a part of our family.

C.W. Anderson Billy and Blaze

Virginia Lee Burton Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

I hated having to pick between Mike Mulligan and Katy and the Big Snow. Mike Mulligan won out partly because we managed to find a board book copy when Frank was little and I think it was his very favorite thing for some time. I also have loved The Little House since I was a child.

 Barbara Cooney Miss Rumphius 

We were first introduced to Miss Rumphius when my sister kindly passed along to us a box of picture books that her girls had out-grown. Thanks Sharon! If you were to buy one book based on the recommendations in this post, I would pick this one.

"You must do something to make the world more beautiful."

Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. 

Although their Greek Myths is probably the most read title at our house, I want to especially point out Abe Lincoln which was the first book we discovered of theirs and which completely captivated Ria when she was very small. 

Here is a description I wrote about that episode many years ago: 

When my children were young Abe Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire was one of their favorite books. My three year old daughter was making sand-castles in the back one day. While they looked like a collection of sand-hills to the untrained eye, she was kind enough to elaborate on their construction. "This sandcastle is like Abraham Lincoln's house," she explained, "because it has bear-skin rugs."

Tomie de Paola  The Lady of Guadalupe

We have so many favorites among his lovely books, but probably my favorite is The Lady of Guadalupe. Like Abe Lincoln above, it was the first of his books we were introduced to, in fact I believed I borrowed it from the same library at the same time as Abe Lincoln. Other favorites include The Legend of the Poinsettia, The Night of Las Posadas and his 26 Fairmount Avenue series, which is autobiographical.

Marjorie Flack. Angus and the Ducks

Angus in the Ducks holds an extra special place in our hearts for Gus, especially, at about age 2, learn to love stories and also because we have a very dear recording of Kate at age 3 or 4 reciting it from memory.

Now, I have to admit that Ria has always loved a read-aloud. When she was quite small, she would sit through chapter books such as the Little House books like no other child I've ever seen. (This doesn't by any means indicate that she was an angelic child - she was the only one of my children that seemed to resent - at least for a while - the arrival of a younger sibling). But when Gus came along, things got a little trickier. When he got to be about 2 years old or so, there was nothing that would get him more noisy and upset than when I tried to sit down and read a story aloud to Ria. He would babble and complain like anything and it seemed there wasn't a whole lot I could do. I was pretty stubborn too and wouldn't let him win the day, I'd at least finish reading the chapter I was on, even if I had to be quite loud and deliberate about it. At that time he wasn't very interested even in picture books for some reason - probably had gotten fed up with all the chapter books I read to Ria.

One day, though, I found just the right book for him at the right time. It was Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack. We had found a lovely old hardcover copy at our library book sale and he loved it immediately. The illustrations are enchanting. The language is simple, but charming. He loved the dog and the duck noises were very funny. It's interesting how certain books have become major milestones for us in our child-raising. This one we will always appreciate because it's the book that helped Gus start to love books.

We also love The Story about Ping.

Maj Lindman Flicka, Ricka and Dicka

Arnold Lobel. Frog and Toad

We especially loved his Frog and Toad series. They are such a charming and engaging story of friendship, especially amidst the sadness and frustrations of life.

Robert McCloskey.  Blueberries for Sal

My personal favorite is Blueberries for Sal. "Little Bear and Little Sal's mother and Little Sal and Little Bear's mother were all mixed up with each other among the blueberries on Blueberry Hill."

I also have to mention that Make Way for Ducklings was a favorite of John's when he was a child. We also love One Morning in Maine and Homer Price so very, very much. 

Helen Oxenbury Clap Hands

I don't know that we ever had any other of her books, but Clap Hands was THE board book that every one of our kids loved when they were little.

Richard Scarry The Best Word Book Ever

Who didn't grow up with the most fun game of finding the different objects on the fabulously detailed and rabbit-covered pages of Richard Scarry's books?

Maurice Sendak. Little Bear  

All of my children enjoyed these funny little stories and I appreciated the underlying themes of gratitude and imagination.

Hilda Van Stockum  A Day on Skates

Although we love all of her books and illustrations, I think A Day on Skates takes the cake for favorite, especially in the illustration category.

Bill Waterson Calvin and Hobbes

Garth Williams Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pascale Wirth The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde 

When I asked Ria, who has always had a strong sense of beauty, which children's book illustrators had the biggest impact on her as a child, the first one that came to mind for her was Pascale Wirth because of the illustrations in our copies of The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince.

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