Two-time Caldecott medalist Nonny Hogrogrian grew up in a stone house in the Bronx, New York which had belonged to her family for three generations. She came from a hard-working and artistic family with strong Armenian roots. When very young she would settle into a big chair in the home library and page through books of beautifully illustrated children’s stories dreaming about one day drawing such pictures herself.
She's been compared to Hans Christian Andersen and that clever fable maker Aesop. For children (and adults!) in today's world, her carefully crafted stories sing with a timeless rhythm and an honest truth. Her family's Russian-Jewish roots have given her the jumping-off place for many a tale (And Twelve Chinese Acrobats, Firebird, and Baba Yaga), but some stories seem to drawn from the heart of the world itself.
Jane Yolen, born in New York City on February 11, 1939, showed a talent for writing early on when she wrote and composed the words and music to her grade school pageant, starring as the lead carrot. She seems to have never slowed down during her years in high school: news editor of the school paper, Spanish club vice president, singing with the a capella choir, and captain of the varsity basketball team. Summers spent at a Vermont camp run by Quakers influenced her deeply. Several of her later books (The Gift of Sarah Barker and Friend: The Story of George Fox and the Quakers) relate to this period of spiritual growth.
In the Kingdom of Dalemark, three kings have died without an heir. The kingdom has been in chaos for generations as earl after earl vies for the throne. Bloody battles have only produced a stalemate, and now the free North and the repressive South tensely await their next war.
The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli
"Don't you love it, Mother? We can shut our eyes and pretend we live in a candy house. All candy. Everywhere."
The Ugly One remembered how her child loved sweets. Asa was beautiful, and her mother tried to give her all the beauty she could though they were poor.
Kokopelli's Flute by Will Hobbs
Tepary Jones hiked to the ruins of the ancient city on the night of a total lunar eclipse. He had always felt the magic of the forgotten spaces, but tonight the place seemed especially alive, its pictures of animal and mystic figures telling pieces of stories long forgotten.
The Stones Are Hatching by Geraldine McCaughrean
It was naked, filthy, and demanding. Phelim Green had never known such a visitor. The black and greasey Domovoy, a kitchen spirit, left its perch behind the stove to warn him... and let in all the refugee field spirits. They clattered about the kitchen, wolfing down raw potatoes and spitting the peels into the stove door.
Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest by Nancy Springer
A mother's protection is a wondrous thing. When Rosemary felt her mother's powerful spell wrap around her so hard it forced her to the ground, she knew she had no reason to be worried for her own safety. But then it cut off as though cleaved with a sword, and Rosemary knew that something terrible had happened to her.
"Long, long ago, when the earth was set down and the sky was lifted up, all folktales were owned by the Sky God."
So begins an Ashanti tale, Anansi Does the Impossible!, retold by Verna Aardema. Anansi the Spider and his clever wife, Aso, use their wits to buy the folk tales for the Ashanti people. Verna Aardema spent much of her life retelling these folktales.
Tomie dePaola (pronounced "Tommy de -powla") was born just as the hard times of the Great Depression were coming to an end in 1934. When Tomie was a boy, there was no television, but he never missed it! He stayed glued to the radio to listen to his favorite show, Let's Pretend. Every week, the actors on Let's Pretend acted out stories of heroes, goblins, princesses, and talking animals. The show fired Tomie's imagination. By the time he was four years old, he knew he wanted to be an artist.
Marcia Sewall's name can be found on the covers of tons of classic fiction and folktales in the library. She has a simple drawing style that conveys the rhythm and characters of the stories without overwhelming them. Whether the subject is a family issue such as the death of a loved one (Saying Good-bye to Grandma by Jane Resh Thomas) or something more light-hearted (The Leprechaun's Story by Richard Kennedy), Marcia's drawings give the books a simple clarity.