A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
JUNE 29:

  • It’s the birth date of Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry (1900-1944), The Little Prince.
  • In 1949, South Africa begins implementing apartheid. Read No Turning Back: A Novel of South Africa and Journey to Jo’Burg both by Beverley Naiddo.
  • Civil Rights Act passed after an eighty-three-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate on this day in 1964. Read A Tugging String by David Greenberg, Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, illustrated by Raul ColĂłn, and The Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Robert H. Mayer.

Today is June 29 and even saying that phrase makes me think of our most awarded children’s book illustrator, three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, David Wiesner. David began his work at Rhode Island School of Design, a student of David Macaulay. Even as a boy, David knew that he wanted to be an artist, and his family supported his dream. As a student at RISD, he was searching for a way to create a different kind of picture book for children—one that would rely much more on the pictures than the words. He wanted to see how few words he could use in a book.

To establish himself as an illustrator, he took whatever work came his way. Trina Schart Hyman, art director of Cricket Magazine, ask him to illustrate the cover of an issue with frogs; others gave him covers or interior art assignments. Like so many truly talented people, David did not really fashion his best books until an editor, in his case Dorothy Briley of Clarion, had enough faith in him to allow him to take over the whole book—text and art. His first solo attempt, Freefall, a Caldecott Honor, used no words at all. In the dream sequences of the book, characters walk, float, fly, and ride through metamorphosing landscapes. By following illustration clues, young viewers can create their own story by viewing the pictures.

In 1992, he published June 29, 1999—an interesting exploration of a school science project. Holly Evans has been sending seeds into the ionosphere to test the effects of extraterrestrial conditions on vegetables. Suddenly the skies fill up with gigantic vegetables. “Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo./ Lima beans loom over Levittown./ Artichokes advance in Anchorage./ Parsnips pass by Providence.” But some of these species have not been initially launched by Holly. So what is going on? On the final pages, David brings science and extraterrestrials together in a completely unexpected way.

Right around this time of year, I ask my summer school class at St. Michael’s College in Vermont to examine all of David Wiesner’s books. He makes the perfect candidate for an author study because from his student years to his three Caldecott Medal books—Tuesday, The Three Pigs, and Flotsam—to his latest triumph, Art & Max, he has created one brilliant picture book after another. But sometimes even fans of Wiesner have missed June 29, 1999. If you have, too, once you discover it you may find yourself looking up at the sky from time to time, attempting to see if any giant cauliflowers are floating near you.

Here’s a page from June 29, 1999:

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Originally posted June 29, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Imagination, Science
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for June 29, 1999
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COMMENTS

  1. Sarah von Moritz says:

    I’m one of those fans who has missed this book completely. How is that possible? I thought I’d seen all of his picture books. Sector 7 is my favorite but this looks spectacular; I can’t wait to get it. Thanks, Anita!

  2. suzi w. says:

    I have adored Wiesner from the first time I read Tuesday. I even own a Tuesday frog plush, it was sold with a paperback copy of the book. The illustrations from this book (and others) were made into greeting cards sold at bookstores, and I remember using one of them as a thank you for an interview for the children’s department head at a particular Barnes & Noble. Imagine my delight, then, that my current boss was on the Caldecott committee that gave Wiesner his first Caldecott, for Tuesday.

    He has only gotten better…I remember visiting the Library of Congress’s Book Festival a few years ago and the states each had a table. One of the coastal states (Delaware? Maryland?) had a display of actual flotsam, coupled with Wiesner’s book. It was brilliant. My favorite image from this book is the flying broccoli.

    Thank you, Anita!!

  3. Barbara Gogan says:

    This is what I use to introduce alliteration.
    And every Kindergarten teacher should have Art & Max–“More detail please!”

  4. Barbara Somervill says:

    The Three Pigs—the most delightful non-retelling of a classic. Three cheers for Wiesner.

  5. G.Perry says:

    After giving it some thought, I think from my limited time with children’s books, David Wiesner is the most creative illustrator of all the children book illustrators I’ve looked at. His ideas are just surprisingly joyful. They make me happy!

    I love the art of many illustrators, but Wiesner strikes me as the single most creative idea generating artist of the category. If I had to pick one book as my favorite top rated illustrator, it would likely come from Wiesner’s work.

  6. Ella says:

    No giant cauliflowers today, but boy do I love David Wiesner. I did a mock-Caldecott exercise with a group of elementary students this year, and included Art & Max – it was the unanimous favorite, and they were outraged when it wasn’t on the short list. His books just get better and better. Thank you, Anita!

  7. Anita says:

    Gordon: Part of what makes him special is the uniqueness of each book. He does not repeat himself, but explores new territory every time.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I’d like to have a few ot the red bell peppers to use for salad and sauce. I wish the starcruiser, Alula Borealis, would stop off over my vegetable garden!

  9. Tess W. says:

    I was lucky enough to meet David Wiesner a few years ago and began to understand where his extraordinary art and stories come from. He was so quiet at this conference but every time I saw him, he was watching everything going on around him and always had a little smile at the corner of his mouth. He was very eloquent and funny when he spoke to our group of five hundred teachers, librarians, and students, but I always wondered what amazing new stories were developing in his head while he talked to us about his storytelling and art …

    The amazing thing is that if I’m patient, I’ll eventually get to see those stories for myself!

    Oh, and June 29,1999 is one of my favorites ^_^

  10. Ah, and I sadly missed this last year so today is my first time to encounter this book that appears QUITE delightful! I will be looking for it today, June 29! Thanks, Anita.

  11. We love this classic by David Weisner. Bought it for my daughter when she turned six on June 29, 1999. It’s quirky and fun–much like my daughter (who turns 20 today btw!). We laughed every time we read it. Will have to do a celebratory reading today!

  12. Ann T says:

    Thank you for this! How appropriate for the date too. David Wiesner has a delightful, crisp (no pun intended with the vegetable theme), and creatively fun style. The imaginations of all who look at this book will soar. Opening any of his books provides a lovely escape for all who wish to have a cerebral vacation.

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