Arts and Artists

09/03/2009 - 9:47am

"One of the most important things is to laugh with your children and to let them see you think they're being funny when they're trying to be. It gives children enormous pleasure to think they've made you laugh. They feel they've reached one of the nicest parts in you.... As a picture book artist, I don't think one can be too much on the side of the child."

Helen Oxenbury, from Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book, by Leonard S. Marcus.

Helen Oxenbury understands babies. She knows that they are messy, cranky, and wonderful. She knows that few things fascinate a baby like, well, another baby. In the world of board books, those sturdy first books that are impervious to drool and can survive a few tasty chews, Helen Oxenbury reigns supreme.

09/03/2009 - 9:47am

Every morning, Patricia (Trisha) Polacco wakes to the sounds of singing birds on her old Michigan farm. She goes downstairs, pours herself a cup of coffee, and then plays an antique music box, enjoying its magical beauty. She then sits in her favorite chair, rocks and rocks, and dreams of stories, old and new, that she can tell to children through her words and her drawings.

09/03/2009 - 10:16am

Pick up a handful of David Wiesner's books, and you'll get a glimpse of the kid who knew in third grade that he wanted to be an artist. But not just any artist--an artist full of fun and imagination. He remembers that there were lots of kinds of paintings he'd like to try:
"I'd have turtles with paintbrushes tied to their backs walking around on a big sheet of paper (I got chuckles from the class and the teacher). Or I'd fill squirt guns with different colored paints at shoot at the canvas. I actually tried this with friends. Well it sounded like a good idea."

09/03/2009 - 10:17am

He drew pirates and knights, fair ladies and fairy tales. His illustrated books on Robin Hood and King Arthur are still treasured by children today.

At the Start

Howard Pyle grew up in Wilmington, Delaware surrounded by family and friends. His mother read to him all sorts of marvelous stories, and they had illustrations from the magazines pinned to the walls of their home.

09/03/2009 - 10:34am

Provensen and Provensen. Alice and Martin. Martin and Alice. Two illustrators and writers working so closely together that their styles were indistinguishable. It was the same style really, gentle drawings so delightful in their clarity that they subtly underscored the text of the dozens of children's books that they illustrated.

09/03/2009 - 10:35am

Ashley Bryan is a man who uses his words and pictures to lift up readers' spirits. When he enters a room and starts to tell stories from Africa's past, he transports his audience to a faraway, long ago time to learn valuable lessons for today. His talents illuminate wisdom earned from a lifetime of hard work.

10/20/2009 - 3:16pm

Readers who enjoy Paul Goble's many stories of traditional Native American lives and legends are sometimes surprised to discover that the author/illustrator was born in England and not in the American West.

When he was a young boy, he liked to spend time at a lake near his home. He studied all the plants, birds, animals, and insects he saw there throughout the year, and he began to collect arrowheads and wildflowers. Soon he started to draw and paint from nature and from the specimens he would find in books and museums.

09/03/2009 - 10:44am

When David Shannon was five-years-old, he wrote a book about himself. On each page, there were different pictures of that showed the story of how he was so very good at getting into trouble. Each page had the words, "No, David!"

09/03/2009 - 10:44am

Born on November 28, 1947, in Macon, Georgia, Mary Evelyn Lyons came from a family where reading was a part of everyday life. Her family moved around a lot, and Mary found a way to stay centered was by keeping her nose in a book or even a comic book. She liked to read different kinds of things. She read all the time, but she especially enjoyed "Katy Keene" fashion comics, and the Newbery-winner Hitty, Her First Hundred Years was definitely a favorite. This story of a beloved doll being passed down and loved by generations of girls had much history woven into it—something Mary would learn a lot about as she got older.

09/03/2009 - 10:44am

Author Facts:

  • Born on December 8, 1940, in Washington, D.C. to L.G. and Eleanor Schneider
  • Received a B.A. in art from Smith College in 1963
  • Married Tomas Azarian, a musician, that same year
  • Mother of three sons—Ethan, Jesse, and Timothy
  • Now resides in Plainfield, Vermont

Mary was raised on a small farm in Virginia, yet her life's road would take her into the New England countryside where she would create folk art that celebrates the region's traditional farming culture. She has illustrated more than 50 books and written several of her own, often employing a 19th-century hand press to create her woodcut designs.

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