• Happy birthday Dan Gutman (Honus and Me) and Phillip Pullman (The Golden Compass).
  • What a view they must’ve had! In 1874, Mary Walsh and Charles Colson are the first couple married in a hot air balloon. Read Hot Air by Marjorie Priceman, Hot-Air Henry by Mary Calhoun, illustrated by Erick Ingraham, and Sally’s Great Balloon Adventure by Stephen Huneck.
  • Now often played at graduations, Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March” premieres in Liverpool on this date in 1901. Read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss and Yay, You! by Sandra Boynton.
  • In 1941, Anna Lee Wiley becomes first female jockey in North America. Read National Velvet by Enid Bagnold.
  • In 1988 the United States Senate passes a law limiting ads during children’s television shows. Read Arthur’s TV Trouble by Marc Brown.

Today marks the birthday of Ed Emberley. Ed was born in Malden, Massachusetts, graduated from the Massachusetts School of Art, and then painted signs for the army and worked in commercial illustration. In the late fifties he began publishing books with the then-Boston firm of Little Brown and Company. For Ed Emberley, working on books was a family affair; he collaborated with his wife, Barbara, and his son, Michael, and daughter, Rebecca, have continued the fine family tradition.

Although Ed Emberley won the Caldecott Medal for Drummer Hoff, his fame and fortune really began in 1970 when he published Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals. Dedicated to “The boy I was, the book I could not find,” this book, and the subsequent volumes, make it possible for any child—and for that matter, any adult—to believe he or she can become an artist. Emberley breaks familiar animals into shapes and shows even the most artistically challenged how to create donkeys, deer, and unicorns.  As an adult, I worked through the entire book and believed that I might have a career as a children’s book illustrator! Probably others have been similarly misled, but the joy of drawing from this book should not be missed. More than forty years later the book, now in an attractive paperback edition, still delights children and helps them create and analyze shape in art.

In the fall of 1970, against all odds, I managed to get hired by Ralph Woodward, publisher of the children’s book department of Little Brown and one of the nicest men in the industry. For Ralph, Ed Emberley always stood as the poster child for a great book creator. Professional, intelligent, with a sound sense of book design and illustration principles, Ed delivered one great book after another to his publisher—on time and without drama. Forty years later he remains for me the model of how a professional author should act; for children he has become the best drawing teacher they will ever find.

Happy birthday, Ed. And thank you from your many fans for all those great drawing lessons.

Here’s a page from Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals:


Originally posted October 19, 2012. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Art, Nature
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals


  1. I’ve never seen this book before, but I definitely want to get my hands on it!

  2. Star says:

    His books inspire artistic confidence! Love them all!!

  3. Juliane McAdam says:

    I had three children, and Drummer Hoff was the absolute favorite of all three. It was a must-read at bedtime. We all loved it!

  4. G. Perry says:

    YES! I’m going out right now to find the reviewed book and.. “Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals. Dedicated to “The boy I was, the book I could not find.”

    And what that line about the book he could’t find reminds me instantly of, is how I felt when I finally, finally found the great treasure “100 Best Books for Children.” There should be a law that for every birth certificate issued in this country, comes with a (purchased copy) of “100 Best Books for Children.”

    And wait till I get hands and eyes on the brand new “Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac” by Anita Silvey coming out October 30th. Woohoo! my children’s library specialist, (besides Anita) is very excited about getting this new book in her children’s sections across our city.

  5. Anita says:

    Gordon: As always, thanks for the support. I will be very happy when the Almanac is finally available to readers in book form.

  6. I agree! Ed’s books have encouraged many children and adults to learn to draw the way they learned to walk- one step at a time.

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