A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Vera Cleaver (Where the Lilies Bloom) and Wendelin Van Draanen (Flipped).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Carl Sandburg (1878â€“1967), Rootabaga Stories.
- Happy birthday to the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. Read The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
- Best birthday wishes to New Mexico, which became the 47th U.S. state in 1912.
- In 1929 Mother Teresa arrived in Calcutta to begin her work among Indiaâ€™s poorest people. Read Mother Theresa by Tracey Dils.
- Itâ€™s Cuddle Up Day. Read I Love to Cuddle by Carl Norac, illustrated by Claude K. Dubois, and Daddy Cuddles by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben.
On January 6, or close to it, in 1412, a peasant girl destined to become a saint was born in DomrĂ©my-la-Pucelle, France. As a teenager, Joan of Arc experienced visions, heard voices, and set out to save the King of France. She delivered Orleans from a siege during the Hundred Years War and paved the way for Charles VII to be crowned. Burned at the stake by the English, she was canonized in 1920. Joan became one of the first military maids, a symbol for countless women who wanted to take up weapons and fight. So many of the hundreds of women who dressed as men and fought in the American Civil War admitted that they just wanted to become â€śanother Joan of Arc.â€ť
The first brilliant biography for children of the Maid of OrlĂ©ans was written by another resident of the city, Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1850â€“1913). A student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; Boutet de Monvel, an academy painter, needed to augment his income. Hence he began to create childrenâ€™s books and contribute illustrations to Century and Scribnerâ€™s, as well as the French edition of St. Nicholas, the famous magazine for boys and girls. But his interest in French history led him to write and illustrate his masterpiece, first published in Paris in 1896, The Story of Joan of Arc. Normally, I am a whole book criticâ€”text and art have to work equally well for me to love a book. No one can possibly defend Boutet de Monvelâ€™s text. He was neither a writer nor a historianâ€”but he was one of the great French artists of his period. The illustrations in this book are best used alone to present Joan of Arcâ€™s life.
And what incredible images they are. Gerald Gottlieb, in the introduction to the book, argues that the rich detail in the book is reminiscent of early fifteenth-century illuminated manuscripts. They contain muted tones and the flat color found in Japanese prints. As Boutet de Monvel himself said about his art: â€śIt is not color really, it is the impression, the suggestion of color.â€ť As the artist depicts Joan, he blends modern elements with the medieval. Even on the title page, she leads French soldiers wearing the uniform of 1896. This artwork displays processions and vast panoramas, stirring scenes of battles and of Joanâ€™s bravery.
Only a few first editions of the book exist, and the copy owned by the Pierpont Morgan Library was used to create the paperback volume of the book now available. Anyone who loves childrenâ€™s book illustrationâ€”and wants to think about how books can be executed with the finest artistryâ€”should pick up a copy of Boutet de Monvelâ€™s Joan of Arc. As an artist, he represents those important words of Walter de la Mare, â€śonly the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young.â€ť
Originally posted January 6, 2011. Updated for .