A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Ted Lewin (Peppe the Lamplighter, Stable), Susan Terris (The Latchkey Kids), and Giulio Maestro (A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Randall Jarrell (1914-1965), The Gingerbread Rabbit, and Judy Delton (1931-2001), Pee Wee Scouts series.
- Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychiatry was born on this day. Read Sigmund Freud by Kathleen Krull.
- Itâ€™s national No Homework Day. Read No More Homework! No More Tests! by Bruce Lansky, illustrated by Stephen Carpenter, and The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
Today I would like to wish happy birthday to one of the loveliest ladies in the childrenâ€™s book world, illustrator Barbara McClintock. Born in New Jersey, Barbara drew constantly as a child. By the time she reached seven, she knew she wanted to be an artist when she grew upâ€”although she also had designs on becoming a cat. At age nine, she moved to North Dakota, where she rode horses and later attended Jamestown College, and continued to draw all the time. Not knowing how to begin a career as an illustrator, Barbara called Maurice Sendak, reigning king of the childrenâ€™s book world, who was gracious with his time and advice.
Barbaraâ€™s first book, published by independent Boston publisher David Godine, The Heartaches of a French Cat, won a New York Times Best Illustrated Award, a prize she has now captured many times. Barbaraâ€™s full-color picture books are simply exquisite. If you missed Leave Your Sleep, a book of classic poetry adapted to music by Natalie Merchant, be sure to pick up this title, which looksâ€”not to mention soundsâ€”absolutely beautiful.
However, the book I have chosen to feature on Barbaraâ€™s birthday differs greatly from the other titles she has created,Â Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. This small gem of a book takes readers through a winter from the first ice, which comes on the sheepâ€™s pail in the barn, to the last ice of the season, and finally dream ice that comes in your sleep. In a rural farming community of the type that might be found in New England or North Dakota, the children and father in the book delight in winter. They create their own skating pond; they play hockey; they hold skating parties.
Already a favorite of third- to sixth-grade teachers, Twelve Kinds of Ice can be read a short chapter each day. And it naturally lends itself to vignette writing exercises. Certainly, the book can be viewed as memoir of the kind of life possible for those who do not crowd in cities. I read it at the end of April, and it even made me long for winter againâ€”something I thought totally impossible.
But what makes this book so special, what moves it beyond its lilting text, are Barbaraâ€™s pen-and-ink drawings. Without color, without embellishment, she shows us what a superb draftsperson she is. With only her accomplished line and shading, she brings characters and setting to readers in vivid detail. At the end of the book, we understand these children and this family because Barbara has brought them to life. The shape of the book, the type, and the drawings all combine for a unique reading experience. This is one of those books that you not only want to read, you want to own.
Best wishes to Barbara. I hope she and her partner, illustrator David Johnson, are having a wonderful celebration today. And I am so glad that she decided to become an illustratorâ€”rather than a cat.
Hereâ€™s a page from Twelve Kinds of Ice:
Originally posted May 6, 2013. Updated for .