This is the week that many authors and illustrators celebrate, or celebrated, their birthdays. One of my favorite versions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff was retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone, born 1907. He also did The Elves and the Shoemaker, and The Gingerbread Boy. I love his pictures.
Anita Lobel, born 1934, was the author and illustrator of Nini Here and There, Nini Lost and Found, and On Market Street. Nini is a beautiful cat who has a loving home and adventures.
We don’t know when Aesop was born. What we do suspect is that he was a misshapen, unattractive, Greek slave who told fables to make his point. Illustrators Jerry Pinkney, Bob Hartman, Charles Santore and many others retold his fables and turned them into popular picture books. Pinkney also extended individual fables like The Lion & the Mouse to make picture books.
One of my least favorite author/illustrators is Richard Scarry, born 1919. His Cars and Trucks and Things that Go was the one book that I would tell my son, “Go ask your daddy to read it.” My son loved that book and wanted it read over, and over, and…. Scarry’s other books weren’t as bad, but still not my choice. Why do children like The Funniest Storybook Ever or Bedtime Stories or What Do People Do All Day? What is so special about those simple cartoon drawings in Busytown Word Book or Best Picture Dictionary Ever? I just don’t get it.
Now Peter Spier, born in 1927, I like. His animal illustrations in Noah’s Ark are detailed and soft, and even won the Caldecott Award. His Christmas! symbolizes the season. His People shows all of us in all our ways and cultures, similarities and differences. Him, I get.
Cynthia Rylant, born in 1954, did several easy-to-read series like Henry and Mudge, Poppleton, Mr. Putter & Tabby. The Relatives Came is a wonderful story about a family reunion and all the fabulous, everyday things they ate and did together. My favorite is When I was Young in the Mountains, a simple quiet story about grandparents and their grandchildren. I relate to all the old timey things in their house and that “little house out back” with the crescent moon cut in the door. Modern children are amazed by old phones, typewriters, irons heated on the wood stove. Nostalgia for Pappy’s farm in Pennsylvania is what helps me relate.
Nikki Giovanni, born in 1943, wrote children’s versions of African American history. Rosa is a simple biography of Rosa Parks. March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World and more stories about African American History is a DVD that contains many of her stories. Check it out to learn, entertain, and help your children remember things they don’t know yet.
Happy Birthday, Authors!