Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: Chris Ware’s cover

Graphic genius Chris Ware designed the cover for my Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature (due this September from the University Press of Mississippi). The front cover is above.  The full, wrap-around cover is below.  Click on it for a larger image.  Trust me: you’ll…

Harold and the School Mural

Harold taks his purple crayon to the walls of the Ben Franklin School, on Flax Hill, in Norwalk, Connecticut.  The school houses the Head Start program.  I’m told that the mural was painted by employees of Pepperidge Farm. The photos are all courtesy of Jackie Curtis, a friend of Ruth and Dave — a.k.a. Ruth Krauss…

Mock Caldecott 2011: Manhattan, Kansas Edition

With thanks to the Children’s and Adolescent Literature Community (ChALC) for organizing the event and the Manhattan Public Library for hosting it, we held aMock Caldecott at this afternoon.  Of course, we weren’t able to get all of the books we wanted to look at — so, there are certainly Caldecott candidates we didn’t get to review.  Here are the top…

Artists for FDR

To support President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 re-election campaign, Syd Hoff, Crockett Johnson, Lynd Ward, Hugo Gellert, William Gropper, and fourteen other artists illustrated this booklet. The text is FDR’s speech made before the Teamsters Union on September 23rd, 1944 — also known as the “Fala speech,” since it features his dog, Fala. Here is…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The problem with a blurb from Neil Gaiman on a cover is that, invoking Gaiman, it inevitably diminishes the book by comparison.  This is not the book’s fault.  Gaiman is one of our most gifted contemporary writers.  Catherynne M. Valente may not be, but I wouldn’t even be thinking about the comparison if Gaiman’s endorsement…

Brisbane: City of Free, Public Art

Coming from a U.S. state whose governor is working tirelessly to defund the arts, I’ve been delighted to see so much art in Brisbane, Australia — most of it at no cost to the visitor.  GoMA’s Surrealism exhibit requires a ticket, but the rest of the museum has no admission fee.  Back in the States,…

The exquisite corpse will drink the new cappuccino

Half-way through the “Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams” exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) here in Brisbane, museum-goers encounter this: A clever riff on the Surrealist game that exploits the mysteries of accidental juxtapositions, this mid-exhibit bar also offered a welcome rest to travel-weary visitors (such as your humble narrator, who visited the…

Vandalizing James Marshall

The only edition of James Marshall’s The Three Little Pigs (1989) currently in print has been vandalized by its publisher, Grosset & Dunlap.  In reprinting the book at 8” x 8” instead of its original 8.5” x 10.5”, the publisher has truncated images, altered the layout, changed the typeface, and removed the final illustration. Here’s…

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road?

What would Kansas be like without Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, or The Wizard of Oz?  What would Kansas be like without art?  That’s what the blog Imagine Kansas Without Art is considering, in light of Governor Brownback’s order to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission (which, if approved by the state legislature, will go into…