A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy Birthday Babette Cole (Dr. Dog, Princess Smartypants).
- Itâ€™s the birthdate of Robert M. McClung (1916-2006), author of Lost Wild America: The Story of Our Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife and The True Adventures of Grizzly Adams.
- Also born on this day was Marie Laveau (1801-1881), a famous New Orleans voodoo queen. Read Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau by Martha Ward.
- The first Negro League All-Star Game is held in Chicagoâ€™s Comiskey Park on this day in 1933. Read We Are The Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson.
- Itâ€™s Sewing Machine Day! On this day in 1846 Elias Howe patented the sewing machine. Read Queen of Inventions: How The Sewing Machine Changed The World by Laurie Carlson.
- Ellis Island Historical Site in New York opens to the public in 1990, providing access to the starting point of many familiesâ€™ American Journey. Read I Was Dreaming to Come to America: Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project by Veronica Lawlor, Coming to America: The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro, illustrated by Susannah Ryan, and When Jesse Came Across The Sea by Amy Hest, illustrated by P. J. Lynch.
September has been set aside as a month to â€śBe Kind to Authors and Editors.â€ť On the Almanac, I could use that as my moto 365 days of the year. Authors and editors are the people who make our best books possible, who work to provide quality content for children, and they deserve kindness and praise every day of the year.
I have always been amazed that creators of books, people who could consider themselves competitors, show amazing kindness to one another. A graphic artist and designer, Leo Lionni not only made fabulous books like Swimmy, but also cared about others who wanted to work in the field.
Lionni was born in Holland, the product of a mixed religious marriage, Christian and Jewish. His family moved frequently during his younger yearsâ€”and by the time they moved to Italy, young Leo had mastered five languages. He left Europe in 1938 and managed to get his wife and children out right before Hitler invaded Poland. As someone devoted to the fine arts and graphic arts, Lionni worked in the advertising industry for a variety of clients, including the Museum of Modern Art, where he designed one of the great books of the era, The Family of Man. Eventually, he settled into a job as Art Director of Fortune magazine.
His childrenâ€™s book career came about by accident. One day he was attempting to amuse his grandchildren, Pippo and Annie, on a train by tearing out scraps from Life magazine telling the story of â€śLittle Blue and Little Yellow,â€ť which he invented on the spot. When one of his friends, Fabio Coen, came to dinner, Fabio saw the book and said heâ€™d like to publish it.
Lionni began to craft a series of books, using cut-paper collage, which explored issues important to him. In Swimmy, a Caldecott Honor Book, a small group of red fish form a cooperative, and Swimmy becomes the eye of the group. Because they have come together, they can support each other, travel the ocean, and chase away larger fish. For these creatures, strength comes out of unity and working together.
Throughout his life Lionni supported other artists, giving them work and encouragement. When a young German refugee came to Lionni in the early fifties asking for work, Lionni looked atÂ the young man’sÂ portfolio and alerted him to a perfect position available at the New York Times. Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has remained grateful throughout his career for Lionniâ€™s kindness and mentorship. A new Lionni statue at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum commemorates the special bond between these two amazing men.
So cooperate, work together, and be kind to authors and editors. These are lessons we not only need to teach our childrenâ€”we need to remember them ourselves.
Here’s a page from Swimmy:
Originally posted September 10, 2011. Updated for .