Marcella's Guardian Angel, Evaline Ness

Today's vintage children's book is Marcella's Guardian Angel, written and illustrated by Evaline Ness. Ness's distinctive style woodcuts never disappoint, always capturing some essence of childhood. She is one of my favorite female illustrators.

According to the jacket flap of this book, Ness illustrated (at the time of this book), over 50 books. Sam, Bangs and Moonshine was a Caldecott Medal winner for Ness. Also an architectural designer, Ness created paper-house books such as Colonial Paper House, Paper Palace, Four Rooms from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Victorian Paper House

To see a previous post and read about Evaline Ness, click here.

Marcella's Guardian Angel
Written and Illustrated by Evaline Ness
Holiday House, New York, 1979


Our Home Is The Sea, Dennis Luzak

I found this book at a library sale some time ago and was drawn to the beautiful muted paintings by Dennis Luzak, who I am not familiar with. Unfortunately, I don't have much information on Luzak for you, except that he was born in 1939, lives in Conneticut, is a painter of portraits, landscapes and still lifes. Our Home Is The Sea was his first children's book. Luzak went to Hong Kong for this book so that he could get a firsthand impression of the city's "colors, noises, and crowds, and a clearer understanding of the culture." It seems he was also a teacher at Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut.

To read an interesting article about Dennis Luzak:

Our Home Is The Sea
By Riki Levinson
Paintings by Dennis Luzak
E.P. Dutton, 1988


The Man Who Loved Books, Trina Schart Hyman

Trina Schart Hyman's (1939-2004) work is well reknowned, her craftsmanship evident in her illustrations. Hyman did much work in the fairy tale genre, won four Caldecott awards and was the first art director for Cricket Magazine. She also was one of the first white American illustrators to regularly portray people of color in her work. Hyman illustrated more than 150 books in her career.
As time goes on, her work is more and more appreciated.

The Man Who Loved Books by Jean Fritz, is about Saint Columba of Ireland, well known for his love of books and missionary work throughout Scotland. The part legend, part true story is set in the Fifth Century, a time when most people did not own books. Columba loved the old stories of his country and learned to read young.

He loved books and was determined to read and copy every book he read.
Since books were usually kept in monasteries, Columba traveled to many monasteries, but was not always welcomed there, as some monks were overly protective of their books.

"... In addition to books, Columba loved Ireland. Every green blade of Irish grass. Every square inch of Irish sod. And he loved the church. To show how much he loved it, Columba gave up wordly ways. He put on a prickly, rough shirt made out of the manes of horses and wore it next to his skin. He slept with a stone for a pillow."

Angered over a High King's ruling on a book he copied, Columba organizes a war in which many were killed. Feeling ashamed because he started a war over a book, Columba vows to leave his beloved Ireland forever as his punishment.
A surprising resolution comes towards the end of his life. 

The Man Who Loved Books
By Jean Fritz
Illustrations by Trina S. Hyman
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1981

To view some previous posts on Trina Schart Hyman, click on the title:


The Art of Art for Children's Books

I have pulled this book off the shelf many times to look at the illustrations and read it. The Art of Art for Children's Books, written by Diana Klemin, was published back in 1966. (Klemin was an Art Director at Doubleday & Company at the time.) Samples of work from many different artists of children's books are shown with commentary by Klemin. The artists are broken down into different groups: The Storytellers, Poetic and Personal, Imaginary, Collage and Abstraction and The Specialists.

It's interesting to see the work of many different artists from a bygone era in one book and read what Klemin, an authority in her field, had to say about their work.

I've chosen a sampling from the book and have included a corresponding excerpt from Klemin's commentary.

The Penny Fiddle illustrated by Edward Ardizzone

"This master illustrator is a storyteller who thoroughly understands a child's desire to identify himself with the hero of the tale or poem... Adrizzone has a natural fondness for children, and his love of detail gives warmth to scenes memorable in beauty, mood and action."

The March Wind, Illustrated by Vladimir Bobri

"Bobri is a stylist. Here is his blending of realism with abstraction. Because he has mischief, exuberance and imagination, a fantasy comes alive and a little boy is a convincing hereo in his escapades with the March Wind..."

The Plant Sitter, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

"... In her charming, comic style and with an imaginative use of shades of green, the artist fills each episode with mischief and nonsense. Margaret Bloy Graham's contribution is a major one because she adds busy little touches to the text and gives a sense of the continuity of daily life..."

Uncle Remus His Songs and His Sayings, Illustrated by Seong Moy

"Seong Moy combines a bold abstract expressionism with an extraordinary storytelling realism in the medium of the woodcut... His animal characters outwit each other with spirit and a lively folk humor that is far different from the original, splendid A.B. Frost drawings for this classic, although Seong Moy's are equally meaningful in interpretation."

Tom Tit Tot, illustrated by Evaline Ness

"The artist accomplishes in wood and color what others do with brush or pen... Like a sincere craftsman, she works out a full and hearty picture book, and uses the text as a vital part of each

The Bremen Town Musicians, illustrated by Edy Legrand

"Edy Legrand can state instantly in line and color what he perceives. A scene is created. Alive and brazen, the characters take their part in it. This is the culmination of storytelling in illustration and the reason why artists turn to Edy Legard for inspiration and study."

The Secret River, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

"What seems at a glance a tranquil scene is an illustration that is enchantingly appropriate. Leonard Weisgard brings forth the magic of experiences through a child's eyes, and introduces everything essential to the moment...."

Roland, illustrated by Andre Francois

"The adventurous and daring Andre Francois makes no concessions to the traditions of children's books in color or technique, although he paints a merry story and at the same time an absurd one in pictures. The hilarious way he works is like an animated film with touches of Matisse and Picasso...."

Nu Dang and His Kite, illustrated by Jacqueline Ayer

"...Lucidly drawn in black line and with flat color freshly overlaid as in wallpaper designs, the settings are like an oriental bazaar where something unexpected is happening in every niche... Jacqueline Ayer does not portray Nu Dang as a hero to identify with emotionally."


The Lazy Bear, Brian Wildsmith

I always love me some illustrations by Brian Wildsmith! His work is exuberant,
expressive and loaded with glorious color - a perfect formula for a children's picture book. I just bought this book, The Lazy Bear, at Goodwill. A small corner of the book is cut off for some reason, but I bought it anyway as I didn't have it and couldn't pass it up. The Lazy Bear must have been written by Wildsmith too, as I don't see any other credits in the book.

To visit Brian Wildsmith's website, which is as exuberant as his work, click here.

To view some of my previous posts on books illustrated by Wildsmith, click on the title:

The Lazy Bear
Brian Wildsmith
Franklin Watts, Inc., 1974


Aesop's Fables, Helen Siegl

Since I have printmaking on the brain, I'm showing Aesop's Fables with woodcut illustrations done by Helen Siegl. Helen (1924-2009) was born in Vienna, Austria. There Siegl studied architecture and design. Her deep interest in printmaking grew out of her visits to the Albertina museum and it's great collection of prints. 

In 1952 Helen moved to Montreal, Canada and married Theodor Siegl. They later moved to Philadelphia after Theodor was appointed Conservator of Paintings for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Together Helen and Theodor had eight children. (I find it remarkable that anyone could juggle a large family with a career in art.)

Siegl was well known for her innovative printmaking techniques, often combining linocut, woodcut, etching or plastic block in her work. She won numerous recognitions for her work. 

To read more about Helen Siegel, click here. To go to her website where unfortunately the links don't work, click here. 

Aesop's Fables
Retold by Anne Terry White
Illustrated by Helen Siegl
Random House, 1964