Ape In A Cape, Written and Illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg

The illustrations by Fritz Eichenberg in Ape In A Cape, an ABC book,  are stunning. When you look at his illustrations, it's clear that Eichenberg was a master of his craft. I really like the large scale of the illustrations, many go off the page. Eichenberg received a Caldecott Honor for this book in 1953.

Ape In A Cape
Written and Illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952

Fritz Eichenberg (October 24, 1901-November 30,1990) was an artist, printmaker, teacher, graphic designer, author and social activist. Born in Cologne, Germany to a Jewish family, the destruction of World Ward 1 affected him and influenced his work throughout his life. Trained in Cologne and Leipzig, Eichenberg worked in Berlin from 1923 to 1933, illustrating books and newspapers and sometimes also writing. With the rise of Adolf Hitler, Eichenberg, who was a public critic of the Nazis, emigrated to New York with his family. There he taught at the New School for Social Research and at the Pratt Institute. He was part of the WPA's Federal Arts Project. Eichenberg also served as the head of the art department at the University of Rhode Island and laid out the printmaking studios there. He served on the board of the AIGA and the Society of American Graphic Arts. He supported young artists experimenting with new printmaking techniques. Eichenberg published an important history of graphics arts, The Art of the Print.

During his prolific career Eichenberg illustrated over 100 books. He became a world class printmaker and illustrator, working predominately in wood engraving and lithography. Eichenberg wrote and illustrated folklore and children's stories. He worked with many forms of literature, but specialized in material with elements of spiritual and emotional conflict, fantasy or social satire. Eichenberg illustrated for authors such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Emily Bronte, Poe and Shakespeare. His work is shown in museums and galleries around the world. 


Illuminated Letters

Illuminated letters mix very nicely with children's picture books. To me these type of letters are like jewelry or a miniature piece of art. Some are artwork on their own. Here are several that I've found in my own books, just a sampling of what's out there. I hope you enjoy it. 

1. From A Child's Garden of Verses illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1951  
2. From The Animal Fair by Alice and Martin Provensen, Golden Books Publishing Co., 1999 
3.  From The House that Jack Built illustrated by J.P. Miller, Random House, Inc., 2008
4. From One Kitten for Kim by Adelaide Holl, illustrated by Don Madden, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1969.
5. Green Tiger's Illustrated ABC, Green Tiger Press,  illustrator Vojtech Kuba sta from Sing a Song of Sixpence, 1960.

The decorated letters that you may see at the beginning of a story have a long history. Strongly associated with illuminated manuscripts from Medieval times, the decorated letter actually dates back to somewhere around the 4th Century A.D.  In researching these letters I found that there are different names and categories for them.  They can be called historiated, illuminated, illustrated, illuminations, ornamented, figurative, inhabited or decorated and referred to as an initial or letter. Initial is derived from the Latin initialis, which means standing at the beginning. The earliest decorated letters were done to call attention to the beginning of a text or its most important passages. Eventually artists started to concentrate their work on these letters. Grand and elaborate foliage patterns embellished sacred words in religious books. 

1. From Christmas by Jan Pienkowski, Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.
2. From How the Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots by Barbara Knutson., Carolrhoda Books Inc., 1990.
3. From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, translated by Randall Jarrell, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973.
4. From Chanticleer and the Fox, Adapted from the Canterbury Tales, and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1958.  
5. From Cinderella and Other Stories retold by Jeanne Cappe, illustrated by J.L. Huens, Grosset & Dunlap, 1957.

historiated initial is an enlarged letter at the beginning of a paragraph or other section of text, which contains a picture or subject matter related to the text.  An inhabited initial contains figures (human or animal) that are decorative only. Figurative initials are closely related, the form of the letter itself is made up of contorted bodies of people or creatures.  Historiated and inhabited letters were used in illuminated manuscripts and were first seen in the early 8th century. The size and decoration of the initial were related to its importance and location. Letters that began a new section of text or a noteworthy section might receive more decoration and space. In luxury manuscripts, an entire page might be devoted to a historiated initial. Both the size and ostentatiousness of a manuscript reflected the status and it's owner. Manuscripts commissioned by wealthy patrons often possessed gold or silver illuminations, whereas simpler examples just used pen and ink. If you would like to read more about these initials here are two references - The J. Paul Getty Museum site - http://getty.edu/art/exhibitions/decorated_letter/ and wikepedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial. There are many other sites also.

1. From the Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Tales, Platt & Munk, 1969. 
2. From The Park Book by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by H.A. Rey, E.M. Hale & Co., 1944. 
3. From Walt Disney's Pinocchio, A Big Golden Book, Golden Press, 1967.  
4.From the Tasha Tudor Book of Fairy Tales. Platt & Munk, 1969. 
5. From Finist, The Bright Eyed Falcon, Malysh Publishing House Moscow, 1979. 
6. From the Tall Book of Nursery Tales, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky, Harper Row, 1944 


Retro Vintage Children's Textbook

It's time for a little mid century book love. This book has what it takes and it's a textbook. I am showing more pics than usual - it's just that good. Seven or So is book two in The Basic Health and Safety Program.  Designer John Horton and illustrator Michael Mitchell made a great team - love the illustrations, layout and design in this book! So much so I have ordered the other two books in the series. 

I haven't been able to find any information on John Horton or Michael Mitchell yet, but I will continue looking. If anyone knows about this team, please leave a comment, I would like to know what else these guys did.

Seven or So, Book Two in Health and Safety
By W.W. Bauer, M.D.
Designed by John Horton
Illustrated by Michael Mitchell 
Scott Foresman and Company, 1957



If you're searching for an owl in children's picture books, you won't have to look too hard. Owls offer all kinds of design possibilities. Inspired by all the different artistic interpretations of Owls on My Owl Barn, I decided to look through some of my books for owls. It didn't take very long before I found several that I would like to share with hoo, you.

From Green Tiger's Illustrated ABC, illustrated by Peter Mabie,
(From the A to Z Book 1929), Green Tiger Press, 2005

From A to Z Picture Book, illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, 
Barnes & Noble Books, 1999

From Ape In A Cape, an alphabet of odd animals, illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg,
Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1952

From The Man Who Lived Alone by Donald Hall, illustrated by Mary Azarian,
David R. Godine, Boston, 1984

From Tamara and the Sea Witch, illustrated by Krystyna Turska, 
Parents Magazine Press, 1972

From So Small by Ann Rand, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky, 
Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., New York, Weekly Reader Book Club, 1962


The Cozy Hour Storybook and The Important Book, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

Leonard Joseph Weisgard (1916-2000) was an American author and illustrator of more than 200 children's books. He is well known for his collaborations with author Margaret Wise Brown. (Brown made a contribution to The Cozy Hour Storybook, a poem called The Fish With the Deep Sea Smile.) Weisgard's recognizable illustration style has great appeal.  Perhaps because I was a child in the 60's, I find many of his illustrations to be heart warming. 

To read more about Leonard Weisgard there is a website by his children that is lovely and quite comprehensive: www.leonardweisgard.com.  Also, the Margaret Wise Brown website is very nice too; a fitting tribute to Brown who gave so much to children's books and died too young, www.margaretwisebrown.com

Here are some illustrations from The Cozy Hour Storybook and The Important Book, for which Leonard Weisgard won a Caldecott Medal in 1947 for best illustrated book.

The Cozy Hour Storybook 
Edited by Nora Kramer
Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard 
Random House, 1960

The Important Book
Words by Margaret Wise Brown 
Pictures by Leonard Weisgard 
Harper Collins, 1977


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Most of us when we think of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, think of the illustrations done by John Tenniel. These illustrations are among the most famous literary illustrations ever made.  

There have been many illustrators over the years who have created their own illustrative version of Alice in Wonderland. Here are a few different  "Alice's" including the original.

John Tenniel's Alice

Arthur Rackham's Alice

Alice by Barry Moser

Laszlo Matulay's version of Alice

Alice by Marjorie Torrey

Margarita Prachaticka's Creation of Alice

If you are interested in learning more about Alice in Wonderland; check out a extremely comprehensive site,  Lenny's Alice in Wonderland Site, http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/.  A must see for Alice in Wonderland lovers!