"During Wain's life, though, his fortunes reversed several times. Believed to be suffering from schizophrenia, Wain lived his final years in institutions. Eight of his cat drawings—which range from cuddly to psychedelic—came to be known as the 'Famous Series' and for years would be offered up as a the stages of a deteriorating mind, illustrated. But the truth is a bit more complicated." (Previously)
In 1963 Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated a letter from Santa Claus for the Finnish post office, which was inundated with letters to Santa. It has now been scanned and posted by the Moomin company on its blog as part of its regular series of letters from Tove Jansson.
In the Great Green Room: This dovetailed with another observation: my students are not as puzzled by Stein as I expect them to be. Stein writes: “Glazed Glitter. Nickel, what is nickel” and my students recognize the moment of wondering. This habit of wonder is familiar in part because we have been raised on the lists of Goodnight Moon. [more inside]
Who was the woman behind Pippi Longstocking? Freshly released wartime diaries along with a new biography reveal Astrid Lindgren, author of some of the world's most beloved children's literature, to be as radical and determined as her best-known character.
For tens of thousands of years, wild horses have inspired humans - to nurture, to create, to slaughter - culminating in the past century of America’s legal and psychological battles over the horses we can’t own. [more inside]
Wanda Gág (1893–1946), best known for her book Millions of Cats - one of the only picture books to ever win a Newbery Honor award and the book that pioneered the two-page spread - wrote and illustrated her stories, the stories of others, and her own diary with what she called a "full-flavored, conversational style, and with a sly peasant humor." [more inside]
Random House announced today that a never-before-published Dr. Seuss book titled What Pet Should I Get? will appear on bookshelves this July. The book, a spinoff of Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, centers on two young children attempting to choose a pet. Seuss’s widow, Audrey Geisel, discovered the manuscript in 2013. RH said that two or more books derived from the found work will be released, as well, with publication information to follow.
The history of paper engineering in books, or the making of "pop-up books" didn't start as a way to entertain children, but in the search for more tools to educate adults, including some proto-computers from as early as the 13th century. Let Ellen G. K. Rubin, known also as The Popup Lady, regale and inform you at length, in either the form of a 50 minute presentation for the Smithsonian Libraries, or read through her website, where she has a timeline of movable books and see the glossary for definitions of the different movements as starting points. Or you can browse the Smithsonian's digital exhibition (the physical exhibition ended a few years ago). And of course, there's plenty more online. [more inside]
In honor of Winnie-the-Pooh Day, here is a webpage with horrible formatting but lots of great photos of Christopher Robin, and an old CNN story about Ashdown Forest.
Maria Popova on the story, art, and universal truths of this year's best books for kids. [more inside]
KC Green, the cartoonist currently writing and drawing Gunshow and writing the pre-apocalyptic fantasy-western Back (with art from Nedroid's Anthony Clark) has embarked upon a third project: a chapter-by-chapter adaptation of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, currently up to the end of the book's first chapter. [more inside]
Julia Eccleshare knows what kids should read in order to experience an antidote to our money-fuelled world, to learn to question authority, have smart female role models, learn about feminism, get to know South Asian characters and families with same-sex parents. Which books help to feel good about wearing glasses, when one feels 'weird' or different, which make the dark less scary or would lure a 13-year-old boy away from his Xbox. She is the book doctor. [more inside]
Today marks Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday. She was a free spirited artist, painter, political cartoonist, illustrator and author who defied the conventions of her time. Earlier this year, a postage stamp and a 2-Euro coin depicting Tove Jansson have been released in celebration of her birthday. She is probably best known for creating the Moomins, a beloved children's book series that was translated in over 40 languages. Unsurprisingly, some call her the queen of the Moomins. A current London exhibition [Tales from the Nordic Archipelago] allows a glimpse into her life and shows unseen photographs from her private island in the archipelago of Finland, where she spent over 30 summers. The English translation of a new biography is due later this year. [more inside]
"London has become a literary playground: a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian). The BBC report about the literary benches; the full list of benches from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
Margaret Wise Brown willed the copyright to 'Goodnight Moon' to a friend's young son. Did she ruin his life? [more inside]
Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet. "Animal Land where there are no People is quite near, only you can't see it... They live by the North Pole and in the leafy places near. It is always light there, always day, they climb the poles and always play." [more inside]
What do vintage ads for Beech-Nut, Q-Tips, and Eskimo Pie have in common with some of the earliest depictions of multiethnic babies in children's books? They were all the work of pioneering illustrator Gyo Fujikawa. [more inside]
"I often think about my long-ago friend, and I wonder what happened to her," wrote children's author Eric Carle in his book "Friends", published last year, inspired by his friendship, as a 3-year-old, with a young girl growing up in Syracuse, New York. He did not know her name, just that that she was the daughter of Italian immigrants. Last Sunday, over 80 years after he last saw her, he and his long-lost friend, Florence Ciani Trovato, reconnected.
Shockheaded Peter (Struwwelpeter, Wikipedia), the classic 19th century German children's book of cautionary tales and grim fates, has been brought to deranged life through simple yet strange animation. [more inside]
Willy Pogany, born in 1882 in Hungary, was an artist and illustrator in the first half of last century, who worked on everything from children's books to books of poetry, history, magazine articles and ads, and much, much more. [more inside]
Cozy Classics are board book versions of classic novels, each story represented by 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations, with the idea of developing "early literacy"—everything children know about reading and writing before they can actually do either. Current titles include Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Les Miserables, and War and Peace, with Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist forthcoming. [more inside]
This 1987 live-action film version of an allegorical fantasy by Swedish children's author Astrid Lindgren was co-produced by Swedish, Norwegian, and Soviet filmmakers; shot in Sweden, Scotland, and the USSR; and starred a mixed British/Russian/Swedish cast. Among others, it featured confirmed wizard Christopher Lee and an adolescent Christian "This Isn't a Car" Bale, and was scored by Abba's Benny Andersson. [more inside]
Pen & Oink Pen & Oink is a blog featuring modern and classic picture books, and interviews with children's book illustrators-- including lots of great images of their work and process. And there's some awesome doodles of pigs. [via mefi projects]
Before Mr. Dark and "Something Wicked This Way Comes," Ray Bradbury wrote about a mysterious little girl named Dark, who helps a little boy overcome his fears of the night. Presenting "Switch on the Night" (1955), Bradbury's first book for children and a delightful collaboration with Swiss artist Madeleine Gekiere. [more inside]
Nina Bawden, writer of novels for adults and children, born in 1925, died on 22nd August 2012. “As a child, Nina said, she had felt wicked because the children in the books she read were all so good, and she was one of the first writers for children to create characters who could be jealous, selfish and bad-tempered” (Guardian obituary). [more inside]
vintage children's books my kid loves (a blog) & scans of vintage Little Golden Books (scroll down a bit) & The Children's Object Book (1880s) & if you want to read and look at even more vintage children's books online, you could start with browsing the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature with almost 6000 classic books (some may be unsuitable for modern sensibilities) [more inside]
"I draw to understand things." Artist David Macaulay, illustrator and author of "The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body," "Mosque," "Cathedral," and "The New Way Things Work," among other books, talks about the creative process behind "Rome Antics," his look at the city that wasn't built in a day. His books may be for children, but they're fascinating for adults as well. Don't yet know Macaulay? Prepare to be amazed. [more inside]
Jan Berenstain, Co-Creator Of Berenstain Bears, Dies [NPR.ORG] Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.
Did you know James Joyce wrote a children's book (sort of)? Patricia Highsmith wrote one too. So did James Baldwin (not to be confused with James Baldwin the children's book author). Eugène Ionesco wrote four stories for young kids. Graham Greene also wrote at the very least four children's books (and possibly more). Other unlikely children's book authors are Aldous Huxley, E. E. Cummings, Chinua Achebe (2, 3, 4), Eleanor Roosevelt and Gertrude Stein. Author Ariel S. Winter has written about all these books on his excellent blog We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie. On his Flickr page you can look at scans from these books, sometimes even the whole book.
The Snowy Day was groundbreaking, somewhat controversial, and remains enduring. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Ezra Jack Keats’ picture book about a little boy named Peter experiencing the wonder of a city transformed by snow. It was one of the first children's books to depict a non-caricatured black protagonist. Viking Press has issued a 50th anniversary edition and the Jewish Museum in Manhattan is exhibiting a Keats retrospective through January 29th.
Floating Worlds is a new book detailing the never-before-seen correspondence between illustrator Edward Gorey and author Peter F. Neumeyer, who collaborated on three children’s books between September 1968 and October 1969. During that period, they regularly sent each other letters and postcards, many of which Gorey embellished with illustrations. [more inside]
NOON, 22ND CENTURY. The research vessel Pegasus is getting ready for liftoff from a spaceport near Moscow. Its small crew of three comprises interplanetary zoologist Dr. Seleznev, his adventurous nine-year-old daughter Alisa, and the terminally pessimistic Captain Zeleny. As they search for rare animal specimens to expand the Moscow zoo's collection, they will discover which of the ferocious tigerat's two tails is longer, save a planet of robots from a paralyzing epidemic, and deliver a modestly sized birthday cake. [more inside]
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of children who don't go to sleep
Go the F**k to Sleep as read by Samuel L. Jackson (no really). Audible is offering it as a free download (registration required). [Go the F**k to Sleep previously]
Discover the charming children's literature of Thornton W. Burgess, author and naturalist, whose books embodied the Naturalist / Conservationist movement of the first half of the 20th century. His works are available through Project Gutenberg, The Literature Network (excellent biography on main page, navigate to books on the left sidebar (and within books also on the left sidebar)), and even several free audio book downloads through LibriVox. [more inside]
Glee's Chris Colfer is writing a children's book. The Land of Stories, aimed at middle grade readers, will come out next year. He joins many other famous folks who have decided to write for younger readers. Perez Hilton is doing one. Madonna's done many. Even the "stars" of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice got in on the kidlit craze. Of course, many of these authors don't actually write the books they publish. Even if/when they do, many readers find the results underwhelming. "If you are looking for the next Beatrix Potter or Maurice Sendak, you will not find it here," claimed the Guardian. There are exceptions, but it seems that for a lot of celebrities, literature for children has become merely another form of brand extension. Author, Adam Rex has countered with "An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks it Must be Easy, Writing Kid's Books" Or, as EB White said, "You have to write up to children, not down..."
Where The Mountain Meets the Moon in 92 Seconds The kids of Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty and Bookie Wookie (prev) have created a video version of Grace Lin's Where The Mountain Meets the Moon using paper puppets for the 90 Second Newbery contest. Can your kids do better? Entries are open until September.
‘Everyone is a worker.’ That is a powerful statement, if you think about it. Richard Scarry wasn’t afraid to paint contemporary American society in such bold strokes. Nor was he afraid to explain commerce and capitalism to children. - What Do People Do All Day.
Once Upon a Title - "pervy little stories made entirely from children's book titles"
A gallery of scanned German children's books from the 18th and 19th centuries. Sounds dry, but the plates are high-resolution and gorgeous. Fans of old-school engraving, illustration, and Bibliodyssey-esque curiosities will not be disappointed. Highly extensive and bandwidth-intensive.
MOVIES R FUN! A li'l inappropriate book by Pixar Story Artist Josh Cooley. Not yet in stores, but several totally awesome samples are in his blog. [more inside]
The Rosetta Project is an online collection of mostly children's books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries complete with illustrations (previously). [more inside]
Vintage dinosaur books. Those of a certain age likely discovered dinosaurs in the pages of one of these books in their grade-school library. I'm almost sure that this one was my first (but I remember the cover being black instead of red), and that this was my second. Does anybody remember this one? Or this?
"To really write for children, you have to think like a child. And to read a children’s book, you probably have to let go of grown-up reasoning. These thoughts occurred to me as I read two newly-translated books about Tintin and his creator, Georges Remi, better known to the world as Hergé. (The pen name is composed of Remi’s initials backwards, pronounced as in French.) There is much to be learned from these studies and others by “Tintinologists”—about Hergé, about the “world” of Tintin, even about twentieth-century politics. But as I read Pierre Assouline’s well-written biography of Hergé and Jean-Marie Apostolidès’s erudite study of the Tintin books, a version of the question we Jews love to ask kept coming to mind: Are they good for Tintin?" A review of The Metamorphoses of Tintin or Tintin for Adults by Jean-Marie Apostolides and Herge: The Man Who Created Tintin by Pierre Assouline at The New Republic.
Ursula Nordstrom—the "Maxwell Perkins of the Tot Department"—was, from 1940 to 1973, head of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls at the New York publisher Harper & Row, and until 1979 had her own imprint there, Ursula Nordstrom Books. A legendary editor known to her authors as UN, she published the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak (whom she is credited with discovering) and, to not a little controversy, E. B. White (previously). One of "the last generation of devoted letter writers," she wrote nearly 100,000 during her five decade career at Harper, of which 300 of the most amusing, acerbic, and illuminating are collected in Dear Genius by Leonard S. Marcus, the first hundred pages of which can be read at the Harper website. [more inside]
If you have kids, you almost certainly have at least one of the 'I Spy' books, or something from the 'Can You See What I See?' series on your home bookshelf. Created by artist/photographer Walter Wick, the books have page after page of images filled with astonishing amounts of detail, including any number of objects for the kids to find. Wick's website has dozens of pages taking us behind the scenes, showing us how many of these wonderful photos were created, many involving the construction of incredibly detailed models that are used for just a single shot. The Impossible Columns is perhaps my favourite.
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