A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday, Barbara Emberley (Drummer Hoff).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Ben Lucien Burman (1896â€“1984), Catfish Bend series.
- Itâ€™s Poinsettia Day. Read The Miracle of the First Poinsettia by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Fabian Negrin, The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaolo, and Poinsettia & Her Family by Felicia Bond.
Today on the Almanac, I send birthday greetings to Sir Quentin Blake, born outside of London. While still a teenager, he began contributing to Punch magazine. After studying English at Cambridge, he took life-drawing classes at the Chelsea Art School and, in 1960, began a glorious career as a childrenâ€™s book illustratorâ€”one that has resulted in hundreds of delightful titles.
In the United States, Quentin Blake is best known for illustrating the novels of Roald Dahl. It is virtually impossible to imagine the Dahl cannon without the characters visually created by Quentin Blake. After all, he showed us what the BFGÂ looks like! He also worked with many other superb writersâ€”Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, and Michael Rosenâ€”to create equally memorable work.
On the Almanac today, Iâ€™d like to celebrate the first Quentin Blake book to catch my eye, Russell Hobanâ€™s whimsical picture book How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Team of Hired Sportsmen, which appeared in 1974 and has been reprinted by David Godine. I was a young assistant editor at the Horn Book when this gem came across my desk. Relying on freewheeling nonsense, Hoban tells the story of a boy who never stops fooling around: â€śHe did low and muddy fooling around and he did high and wobbly fooling around.â€ť Finally, Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong summons her friend Captain Najork to teach Tom a lesson, although things do not go as she expects.
The whimsical quality of Blakeâ€™s artwork, rendered in pen and ink with a watercolor overlay, and the charactersâ€™ facial expressions and postures make the text come to life. In How Tom Beat Captain Najork, as in all his books, Quentin Blake manages to make his artwork appear as if he had just scribbled it down over breakfast. He delivers images that are both spontaneous and exciting.
Winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, in 2013 Quentin Blake received a knighthood for â€śservices to illustration,â€ť which include years of teaching at the Royal College of Art. But although he has been given almost every appropriate awardâ€”except a Nobel Peace Prizeâ€”what Quentin Blake has truly won over the years has been the hearts and the devotion of young readers. He has made them laugh, look again at his drawings, and enter into the world he visually creates. And so, taking our cue from the BFG, today we raise a â€śfrobscottleâ€ť in his honor.
Here’s a page fromÂ How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Team of Hired Sportsmen:
Originally posted December 16, 2013. Updated for .