A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Susan Bonners (Edwina Victorious), Linda Crew (Children of the River), and Steven Schnur (The Koufax Dilemma).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Harold Keith (1903-1998), Rifles for Watie, Ruth Chew (1920-2010), The Wednesday Witch, and Trina Schart Hyman (1939-2004), Saint George and the Dragon, King Stork.
- In 1904 Longacre Square in Manhattan was renamed Times Square. Reread The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon, illustrated by Garth Williams. Itâ€™s Draw a Picture of a Bird Day. Read How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird by Jacques Prevert, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.
Born in Philadelphia on April 8, 1939, Trina Schart Hyman trained as an illustrator and spent over three decades creating beautiful books and artwork for children. Beloved by her editors, Trina, who was always a force to be reckoned with, delighted in making sure they actually studied what she had drawn. She usually wove in some slightly scandalous or inappropriate detail, challenging them to find it. When they didnâ€™t, her devilish sense of humor caused controversy. In her artwork for Jean Fritzâ€™s And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Trina put Virginia Kirkus of Kirkus Reviews to rest in a cemetery with the saying: â€śVirginia Kirkus a nasty soul is its own reward.â€ť
Personally salty, she remained throughout her life a straight shooter who wasnâ€™t afraid to say what she thought. She once took me to task over an editorial in the Horn Bookâ€”a letter that still stings decades after I received it. But the artist who created the books approached texts in a softer, gentler, much more subtle manner. Trina brought a romantic lushness to her books. In person she exuded fire and passionâ€”in her art, sunlight and wind.
For anyone who doesnâ€™t know her work, Little Red Riding Hood, a Caldecott Honor winner, makes a great place to begin. We see Red Riding Hood as an innocent and charming girl; even the wolf appears only marginally scary while serving as the villain. Fascinating borders and geometric patterns round out the picture. In the final scene Grandmother appears slightly disheveled and drinking some red wine! Well, Trina was always a realistâ€”many people would need a drink after being holed up in the belly of a wolf. Still Trina has managed to take a very frightening tale, tell it respectfully, and make it possible for a small child to go to sleep after reading it.
Toward the end of her life, Trina was afraid that her books would not stand the test of time: she did all of her work in the four-color-process days of publishing, and these books simply donâ€™t have the rich saturated color that became possible with photographic scanning. But she remains one of the best loved illustrators of my twenty- to thirty-year-old graduate students. They grew up on her inspired artwork for Cricket Magazine. As the first art director for the magazine, she set the feeling and tone. Then they found, and became captivated by, her books. I cannot even count the number of times some young person has said to me, â€śHow I wish I could have met her.â€ť
Even if you werenâ€™t lucky enough to have known this singular spirit, you can celebrate her birthday by picking up one of her books. All of them remind us that great illustration never overwhelms the text but supports and extends the words.
Hereâ€™s a page from Red Riding Hood:
Originally posted April 8, 2012. Updated for .