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. 


  1. I just uncovered this treasure in my attic, something I had grabbed from the mounds of books in my mom's basement when she moved out of our old house years ago. It's the original 1952 edition, marked $1.35 and still in excellent shape. I love the printing process using 4 separate colors and yes, the brilliant, quirky illustrations. Not something I'll be handing over to my 2-year old just yet, for now it is displayed on my design office shelf!

  2. What an excellent find! I think you're wise to hold on to it.

  3. i studied with the great fritz eichenberg at Pratt in the 60's... a great artist, humanist and an inspiration to this day...george schorr

  4. Was Ape in a Cape first published as Carp with a Harp? Carp with a Harp was pictured on a puzzle of 30 children's book covers, but I haven't been able to find anything about this book, although the cover is the same picture as the C page in Ape in a Cape.