Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book review written for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now moving in a different direction, though the columns that I write are still book-centric. Instead of writing reviews, I'm offering you columns on topics that have been inspired by wonderful books that I have read. I tell you about the books in question, and describe how they have have impacted me. This may sound peculiar to some of you, but the books that I tend to choose are ones that resonate with me on some level. Therefore, when I read the last page and close the covers, I am not quite the same person that I was when first I started reading the book. The shift in my perspective might be miniscule, but it is still there. The books I am looking are both about adult and children's titles. Some of the children's titles will appeal to adults, while others will not. Some of the adult titles will appeal to younger readers, particularly those who are eager to expand their horizons.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Jane Goodall - Scientist, Environmentalist, Writer, and Reader

Illustration by Petra Braun 

When I was a student at the University of Oxford studying zoology, Jane Goodall, the famous primatologist, came to town to sign her latest book at Blackwells, Oxford's most marvelous bookshop. Naturally I went to the signing, and as the line was not too long I was able to have a short talk with Dr. Goodall. She was a very slender, almost fragile, looking lady with a soft voice. She looked at me with her penetrating eyes as I stumbled over my words, blushing furiously "Take a breath," she said smiling and tilting her head slightly to one side. Her words made me laugh, and after that I was able to tell her how the books she, Gerald Durrell, and David Attenborough had written had set me on my current path. 

   Later that evening I was invited to attend a gathering that was being held in her honor. Dr. Goodall has difficulty remembering faces and yet for some reason she remembered mine. "Ah, the reader," she said looking at me. She asked if I had ever visit Gerald Durrell's zoo on the island of Jersey, and I told her about how I had worked there for a whole summer. We chatted about my experiences there briefly and then she moved on. Dr. Goodall gave a talk about her new book and I remember feeling deeply moved by the words of this unassuming woman, who was so determined to do all she could to protect the chimpanzees that she had studied for so many years. I could see that Dr. Goodall was the kind of woman who would fight, tooth and nail, in her own quiet way, to protect the animals of this world. She was, and is, an inspiration. 

   Not surprisingly, it turns out that Jane Goodall is also a great reader. In 2020 Enchanted Lion published a book called A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader. In it, artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, philanthropists, musicians, and businesspeople who have been lifelong readers offer letters to children in which they talk about their love of reading. Jane Goodall wrote one of these letters. 

Dear Children,

I want to share something with you — and that is how much I loved books when I was your age. Of 
course, back then there was no Internet, no television — we learned everything from printed books. We didn’t have much money when I was a child and I couldn’t afford new books, so most of what I read came from our library. But I also used to spend hours in a very small second hand book shop. The owner was an old man who never had time to arrange his books properly. They were piled everywhere and I would sit there, surrounded by all that information about everything imaginable. I would save up any money I got for my birthday or doing odd jobs so that I could buy one of those books. Of course, you can look up everything on the Internet now. But there is something very special about a book — the feel of it in your hands and the way it looks on the table by your bed, or nestled in with others in the bookcase.

I loved to read in bed, and after I had to put the lights out I would read under the bedclothes with a torch, always hoping my mother would not come in and find out! I used to read curled up in front of the fire on a cold winter evening. And in the summer I would take my special books up my favorite tree in the garden. My Beech Tree. Up there I read stories of faraway places and I imagined I was there. I especially loved reading about Doctor Doolittle and how he learned to talk to animals. And I read about Tarzan of the Apes. And the more I read, the more I wanted to read.

I was ten years old when I decided I would go to Africa when I grew up to live with animals and write books about them. And that is what I did, eventually. I lived with chimpanzees in Africa and I am still writing books about them and other animals. In fact, I love writing books as much as reading them — I hope you will enjoy reading some of the ones that I have written for you.

Jane Goodall

More about Jane Goodall's Work

You can find out more about Dr. Goodall and her work on the Jane Goodall Institute websiteIn addition she has created a special global organization called Roots and Shoots who mission is to "empower young people to affect positive change in their communities." 

You can hear her read some of her children's books on her story time page . Here is more information about her books on the Astra Publishing House website. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Happy Poetry Month - A review of Classic Poetry

Dear Friends, 
Happy April and happy Poetry Month.
   When I was little, my father used to read to me. He had such a beautiful reading-aloud voice that I would sit and listen, taking in every syllable. One of the things that he liked to read to me was poetry. I had a collection of classic poetry, and we had such a marvelous time exploring the language in the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and others. 
   When my daughter was little I bought her the book that I have reviewed below, and she and I shared the same wonderful experiences. I reconnected with old friends, and made new ones, and to this day we will quote lines from some of the poems to each other, even though she is now an adult, living far away. 

Selected by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Paul Howard 
For ages 8 and up
Candlewick, 2009, 978-0763642105
In this day and age so many of us expect to be constantly entertained when we read. We like titles that have a fast-paced plot, ones that will keep us engaged all the way through the book. We are less willing to explore words and the images and emotions that they describe or conjure up. Because of this tendency, we often miss out on some wonderful stories, and we completely bypass poetry. Reading poetry can take a little more work; it is a little more demanding than a simple narrative. At the same time, poetry can give us a wonderfully rich literary experience.
   For this book Michael Rosen, one of Britain’s Children’s Laureates, has selected classic poetry written by some of the world’s most wonderful English language poets. Some of the poets will be known to the reader, like William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll, while others will become new friends.
   For each poet Rosen has written a short biography, and so this book is “not only a book of classic poetry; it is also a book of classic poets.” For some of the poets Rosen has chosen more than one poem, and this will help the reader get a richer picture of what the poet cared about.
   In addition to reading poems about Ozymandius, the Mock Turtle, Paul Revere’s Ride, The Jumblies, and much more, readers can read the poet’s biographies, looks at portraits of them, and admire the art that Paul Howard has created to accompany the poems.
   This is a title that young and nor-so-young readers will dip into again and again, and it is a book that they will surely enjoy for many years to come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Please look after this bear.

In the late 1930s-1940s, Michael Bond, author of Paddington Bear, saw Jewish refugee children (Kindertransport children) walking through London's Reading Station, arriving in Britain escaping from the Nazi horrors of Europe. 

Mr. Bond, touched by what he saw,  recalled those memories 20 years later when he began his story of Paddington Bear.  One morning in 1958, he was searching for writing inspiration and simply wrote the words: “Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform…” 

“They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions,” Bond said in an interview with The Telegraph before his death in 2017. “So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.”

Paddington Bear - known for his blue overcoat, bright red hat, and wearing a simple hand-written tag that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you,” Paddington embodies the appearance of many refugee children. His suitcase is an emblem of his own refugee status. 

“We took in some Jewish children who often sat in front of the fire every evening, quietly crying because they had no idea what had happened to their parents, and neither did we at the time. It’s the reason why Paddington arrived with the label around his neck”. 

Michael Bond died in 2017 aged 91. The epitaph on his gravestone reads "Please look after this bear. Thank you."

Please look after all the young Bears from all around the world who are having to flee conflict and war. 

Shared from @DavidLundin

Friday, March 25, 2022

Books for Refugee Children

Art by Sophie Blackall

Long ago, but what sometimes feels like yesterday, my family and I fled a war-torn country as refugees. We were lucky in that we were able to take a few trunks full of our possessions with us. Most refugees can only take what they can carry. My mother packed a few of my books, but most of them were left behind and this broke my six-year-old heart. I loved my books. They were my friends, and on their pages I could forget about my problems for at least a little while. 

When your world has been turned upside down, books can offer a child a great deal of comfort. I know this from personal experience.

Here is an article from Publisher's Weekly 

Polish Literacy Foundation Leads Relief Efforts for Ukrainian Kids
By Joanne O’Sullivan 

A child alone, afraid, far from home. With a mother, maybe. Maybe without a father. In a time like this, research shows, a book can offer “a moment of peace, a way to forget,” said Maria Deskur, CEO of Poland’s Fundacja Powszechnego Czytania (Universal Reading Foundation). The Foundation—a collective of more than 20 Polish publishers and distributors—is leading an effort to supply books to Ukrainian refugee children in Poland and funds to Ukrainian publishers.

In the days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s estimated that more than half a million refugees have poured into Poland. About 100,000 are believed to be children. In addition to families, Ukrainian orphanages have been evacuated, and children have been newly orphaned by the war. Deskur—also managing director of children’s publisher Wydawnictwo Słowne—says that virtually everyone in Poland has sprung into action to help—taking refugees into their homes, volunteering at the border or in shelters, supplying material and financial support. Within the publishing industry, the response was almost immediate.

Initial efforts centered on collecting donations of picture books and coloring books from Polish publishers—“books you don’t have to read,” Deskur said. The Foundation is uniquely positioned to help. Formed in 2018 to promote early childhood literacy in Poland, its members are at the heart of the Polish publishing industry, and include Dwie Siostry, publisher of the international bestseller Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski. With its established distributor connections and warehouse and transportation resources, member organizations were able to quickly deliver books to relief groups.

Within days, though, the effort had expanded. Foundation members collected contact information for close to 40 Ukrainian publishers of children’s and adult books. Ukrainian publishers began to email book files to Polish printers who volunteered to print them for free. Eight books—with print runs of 1,000 each—are expected to be delivered on March 8. The books are “warm stories,” Deskur said, a mix of picture books and story books for the youngest children. Foundation member Nowa Era—Poland’s largest educational publisher—offered its network of representatives (connected to virtually every Polish preschool) as well as its distribution channels to get books to schools where Ukrainian refugee students are expected to enroll. To reach kids who won’t yet be in schools, Deskur has relied on her contacts with Poland’s union of municipalities, whose member organizations are in charge of local shelters. The Foundation is also responding to direct requests for books from individuals. Deskur said she heard from a man who had taken in 12 refugee children and wanted a book for each. ”We will try to answer all requests,” she added.

Deskur expects the Foundation’s efforts to be ongoing, emphasizing that in addition to supplying books to kids, financial support for Ukrainian publishers is critical. During World War II, the destruction of Polish books and libraries was widespread and the country’s publishing industry was decimated, she said. After the war, publishing had to begin again from scratch. That rebuilding had effects on the country’s literacy rates that are still felt today. According to the Foundation’s research, Poland lags behind its European neighbors in childhood literacy. Financial support for Ukrainian publishers now can help reduce harm to the sector so that kind of intergenerational impact can be avoided. But there’s an even bigger picture issue at play, Deskur said, since books are essential to democracy.

Depending on the success of fundraising efforts, the Foundation hopes to be able to pay Ukrainian publishers between one and three euros per book for each printed. All printing, distribution, and coordination efforts by Polish companies have been donated, meaning there’s no overhead and 100% of donated funds can go to Ukrainian publishers, Deskur said. While the Foundation aims to prioritize children’s books, its efforts include all publishers.

For the people of Poland, Deskur said, the war is “very near.” While urgent needs for food, shelter, and medical attention are being addressed by aid organizations, Deskur said the Foundation can offer children emotional support through books. As Foundation member publishers have reached out to their international partners, support is beginning to come in from outside Poland. Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall has donated an illustration to help the effort. “I heard about the Fundacja Powszechnego Czytania from Christopher Franceschelli, a pillar of the children’s book community,” Blackall said. “I think there were many of us who wanted to help but didn’t know how. Fundacja Powszechnego Czytania are doing all the hard work on the ground, and those of us who make books and work with children, who know how comforting a book can be, are eager to help them reach their goals.”

Publishing has always been about making connections and reaching out beyond the bounds of language and nationality. “Action is the antidote to despair,” Joan Baez once famously said, and it’s a philosophy that Deskur and her colleagues endorse. In these distressing times, “We have to take care of each other,” Deskur said.

To donate to help supply books to Ukrainian refugee children and funds to Ukrainian publishers, click here. For more information or to partner with the Foundation, email ukraine-funds@fpc.org.pl.

Winter is melting into spring - With a beautiful picture book by Kazuo Iwamura

While I was on vacation in Hawaii, spring arrived in my valley in southern Oregon. During my absence we had some much needed rain, and so the countryside is finally turning a beautiful soft green. Though fall and winter are my favorite seasons, I always love watching and feeling the changes that take place as we transition from one season to another. 
 Today I bring you a picture book that I found quite charming. The main characters in the narrative are sweet, the artwork is a delight, and the text is touched with beautiful imagery, as you can see from the quote below.

"Tap, tip, tap, trrr . . .
Came the snow-melted water
It sang as it joined into one stream
A nightingale's voice trembled like a dream."

Kazuo Iwamura
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
NorthSouth, 2019, 9780735843455
One morning the squirrel children wake up to discover that the snow of winter has gone. Their father explains that every year “The snow returns to the sky.” Sure enough, in the sky, the children see white puffy clouds. They also notice something else; they hear water dripping and little streams running. As they watch, the little snow that is left on the ground is turning into “a babbling brook.”
   Eager to find out where the water goes, the squirrel children follow its path until they come to stream. A log is floating in the stream and the children climb onto it. The snow melt “sang as it joined into one stream,” and a nightingale added its voice to the music of the wakening forest.    
   The log, with its three little passengers, floated down the stream, which then emptied into a large lake. There the children were, tiny little creatures sitting on their log in the middle of a lake, seemingly all alone.
   In this special picture book Kazuo Iwamura pairs his wonderful illustrations with a rhyming text that captures the magic of the changing seasons. The little squirrel children discover that they are witnessing something that, though it happens every year, is still awe inspiring and beautiful. Some of the lines in the narrative truly lift the spirit with their imagery. 


Kazuo Iwamura was born in Tokyo in 1939. He studied at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and started his career as an illustrator for children’s television programs. He is the author and/or illustrator of dozens of popular books. Mr. Iwamura is one of the most famous picture book artists in Japan and his work has won many awards. He lives in Tochigi, where he founded the Museum for Picture Book Illustrations. It stands on a hill named Ehon-no-Oka, which means Picture Book Hill.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Women's History Month - Emma Lazarus, an activist and author of poetry and prose.

In 1883 and American poet called Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet called The New Colossus. She wrote the poem to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World). In 1903, the poem was cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal's lower level.

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Below is a a review of a marvelous award wining book that tells the story of Emma Lazarus and her famous poem.

Emma’s Poem: The voice of the Statue of Liberty 
Linda Glaser
Illustrated by Clair A. Nivola 
Nonfiction Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 978-0544105089
When Emma was little she had a very comfortable life living in a lovely, large home with her mother, father, and siblings. She lacked for nothing, and was able to indulge in her love of books. She had the time to read, and spent many hours writing stories and poems. The people she spent time with came from similarly comfortable backgrounds, and the world of New York’s well-to- do people was the only one she knew.
   Then one day Emma visited Ward’s Island in New York Harbor and there she met immigrants who had travelled across the Atlantic as steerage passengers. They were poor and hungry, and many of them were sick. They had so little and had suffered so much. Like Emma, they were Jews, but unlike her they had been persecuted and driven from their homes. Friends and family members had died, and now here they were in a strange land with no one to assist them.
   Emma was so moved by the plight of the immigrants that she did her best to help them. She taught them English, helped them to get training so that they could get jobs, and she wrote about the problems that such immigrants faced. Women from her background were not supposed to spend time with the poor, and they certainly did not write about them in newspapers, but Emma did.
   Then Emma was invited to write a poem that would be part of a poetry collection. The hope was that the sale of the collection would pay for the pedestal that would one day serve as the base for a new statue that France was giving to America as a gift. The statue was going to be placed in New York Harbor and Emma knew that immigrants, thousands of them, would see the statue of the lady when their ships sailed into the harbor. What would the statue say to the immigrants if she was a real woman? What would she feel if she could see them “arriving hungry and in rags?” In her poem, Emma gave the statue a voice, a voice that welcomed all immigrants to America’s shores.
   In this wonderfully written nonfiction picture book the author uses free verse to tell the story of Emma Lazarus and the poem that she wrote. The poem was inscribed on a bronze plaque that is on the wall in the entryway to the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. It has been memorized by thousands of people over the years, and has come to represent something that many Americans hold dear.
   At the back of the book readers will find further information about Emma Lazarus and her work. A copy of her famous poem can also be found there.

The plaque inside the statue of liberty

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Happy Spring! With a review of Crinkle, Crackle, Crack It's Spring.

"In the spring all the little flowers came out obediently in the meads, and the dew sparkled, and the birds sang; in the summer it was beautifully hot for no less than four months, and, if it did rain just enough for agricultural purposes, they managed to arrange it so that it rained while you were in bed."
-T.H. White from The Sword in the Stone.

Here is a springish book that perfectly captures the magic that the season brings. Even though I reviewed this book some years ago, I remember it very fondly and think that you will enjoy it. 

Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrated by John Shelley 
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Holiday House, 2015, 978-0823429523
If you are lucky, one cold winter’s night you will be woken up by some strange sounds. You will hear a “rap, bap, tap” followed by a “crunch, scrunch,” and a “crinkle, crackle, crack.”  You will get out of bed to investigate and look out the front door, where you will see mud, melting snow, and a bear. The bear will tell you that “It is time,” and will ask you to “Come with me.”
   As everyone knows, it is not possible to say no to a bear when it invites you to join him, so you will take his paw and go with him.  You will hear the noises again and again as you journey through the woods with the bear, and the words “It is time” will drift around you on the air. You will be joined by a rabbit who also knows that “It is time,” and then by other woodland creatures. Something is happening, something marvelous, but you will have no idea what awaits you in the woods ahead.
   In this magical picture book children will get to take a journey with a bear, and some other animals, to witness a special moment. With beautifully expressive art and a lyrical text, the author and illustrator give their readers a singular story experience. It is one that they will enjoy again and again as they read and reread the book. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Getting to know Freya Blackwood, author and illustrator


Freya Blackwood has been illustrating children’s book for some years now, and I have always been charmed by the characters that she creates, and by the way in which she lays out the pages. The panel above, for example , tells the story in such a creative and unique way. I have studied her work myself to learn more about picture book art direction.
   Here is an interview that Freya recently gave in which she describes her creative process. Below is a review of one of her books. 

The Bike Ride
Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood 
Board Book
For ages 3 to 5
Little Hare Books, 2017, 978-1760128982
One day Maudie decides that she needs some exercise and Bear agrees that some fresh air “would be nice.” Maudie then suggests that they go for a bike ride and Bear readily agrees.
   Before they can leave the house Maudie is going to need to find her sunglasses. Then she needs their hats, which takes time to sort out because there are lots of hats to choose from. Next, Maudie gets a scarf.
Each time Maudie goes off to get something Bear patiently waits for her. He understands how it is when a little girl needs to prepare for an outing. Bear is clearly a very good friend.
   Children and their grownups alike will be charmed by this delightful little book. With its whimsical illustrations, its charming characters, its clever story, and its funny ending, this book shows to great effect how a simple story can be a rich one.

Artwork from Freya’s book Harry and Hopper, which won
the Kate Greenaway award in 2010. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy Birthday, Kate Greenaway

Art from the Pied Piper of Hamelin

For many years I saw Kate Greenaway's artwork without knowing who the artist was. Her style is very distinctive and so charming to the eye. Then I was given a copy of her nook The Language of Flowers and I looked her up. I confess that I felt rather embarrassed that I, a person working in the children's literature field, did not know about this woman, a woman who had such a big impact on the world of children's literature. As you will read below, she was a real trailblazer who refused to be dictated to with regards to her art. 

Kate Greenaway was the most popular children’s book illustrator of her generation. During the last two decades of the 19th century, her idyllic illustrations presented an aspirational view of childhood that charmed readers in her native Britain, Europe, and as far away as America. Like her peers Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott, she collaborated with London’s best color-printer to produce a new, innovative product—high-quality books for the juvenile market. What set Greenaway apart in this triumvirate of excellence was her unique vision. While Crane and Caldecott illustrated stories written for children, Greenaway’s work featured the children themselves—quaintly dressed in ruffles and bonnets and set against picturesque, bucolic landscapes. 
Kate Greenaway in her studio in 1895
   Greenaway’s illustrations were appealing and relevant. Victorians celebrated childhood innocence despite the fact that child labor played an essential role in Britain’s economic prosperity. The contrast between popular sentiment and painful reality eventually inspired change, and the start of Greenaway’s career coincided with measures aimed at stopping the worst exploitation of children. The 1867 Factory and Workshop Acts were among the first directives to put meaningful limitations on child labor. Foster’s Education Act, which followed in 1870, advocated compulsory elementary education for English and Welsh children and paved the way for additional improvements throughout the decade. In this climate of social change, Greenaway’s illustrations resonated. Much to her chagrin, her fame spawned a host of imitators who copied her work on everything from handkerchiefs to caskets.
The enchanted quality of Greenaway’s illustrations reflected her own memorable childhood. She was born in London into a lively, creative family. Her father was a skilled engraver and her mother an inventive milliner. Kate was an imaginative child who absorbed the beauty of the countryside and the intrigue of city life with equal admiration. “Living in that childish wonder is a most beautiful feeling,” she once confided to a friend. “I can so well remember it. There was always something more—behind and above everything—to me; the golden spectacles were very, very big.” Through those golden lenses, Greenaway observed her father’s engaging business. John Greenaway kept a scrapbook of engraving examples, and Kate remembered how a Cruikshank illustration of an execution fascinated and horrified her. Providing an antidote were the half penny fairytales in the family library. Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast were among her favorites—mysterious, terrifying tales that nonetheless, ended well.
   Both parents encouraged Greenaway’s interest in art, and by the time she was twelve, she was winning prizes at a local academy. As her skill increased, she attended London’s South Kensington School and then Heatherley’s, the first British art school to admit women to life-drawing classes. By the age of 21 she was enrolled in London’s newly formed Slade School, an institution dedicated to equal education for women. While still attending classes, Greenaway developed her distinctive style, creating watercolors of children dressed in clothing she designed, assembled and fitted on models or lay figures. Although her costumes resembled the styles of the Regency era, a half-century earlier, they owed as much to invention as to authenticity. When Greenaway finished her education, her drawings found a modest market in the lesser-known periodicals.
   A turning point in Kate Greenaway’s career came when a Valentine she designed sold more than 25,000 copies. Her share of the profits was less than three pounds, but the card’s popularity yielded years of work designing birthday and holiday greetings. Although the enterprise provided a modest income, Greenaway’s cards were either unsigned or initialed. Her biographer, M. H. Spielmann, noted that at the age of 33 she was still “the hidden mainspring of a clock with the maker’s name upon the dial.” Greenaway’s fortunes changed in 1878 when she presented a portfolio of 50 drawings with accompanying verses to printer, Edmund Evans. Years later, Evans recalled that first meeting, “I was fascinated with the originality of the drawings and the ideas of the verse, so I at once purchased them and determined to reproduce them in a little volume.” 
 Edmund Evans engraved and printed Greenaway’s “little volume” in 1879. Although the publisher questioned the wisdom of investing in an unknown artist, Evans was in the position to take a risk. By this time, he was operating three thriving establishments built on a decade-long dominance of the juvenile market and an eye for extraordinary talent. Evans issued 20,000 copies of Under the Window, and the initial run sold out before he could release the next 50,000. This triumph began their long, profitable association. Between 1879 and 1898, Evans printed 932,100 works illustrated by Greenaway.
Despite the acclaim accompanying the release of each new Kate Greenaway book, her friends were free with advice on how she could improve her work—mistaking the simplicity of her carefully crafted world for a failure to grasp the principles of academic art. When artist Henry Stacy Marks told her to remove the dark shadows under the heels of her characters, she obeyed. When poet Frederick Locker-Lampson suggested she vary their stoic expressions, she responded politely but changed nothing. When Britain’s leading art critic, John Ruskin, advised her to strip her “girlies” entirely, she did not. “Will you—” Ruskin cajoled. “(It’s all for your own good!)… draw her for me without her hat—and, without her shoes,—(because of the heels) and without her mittens, and without her—frock and its frill?”
Greenaway’s style was the result of a sophisticated, intentional effort to capture the illusive magic of childhood. She was neither naïve nor uninformed. Literature, and contemporary art provided continuing inspiration, and Greenaway was a frequent visitor to London’s museums and galleries. She regularly participated in the city’s cultural life exhibiting her work at the Dudley Gallery, the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolor, and the 1889 International Exhibition in Paris. Her first solo exhibition yielded sales of more than £1,000 and some distinguished patrons—among them painter Sir Frederic Leighton who purchased two of her watercolors.
   Refined manners and a cautious reserve disguised Greenaway’s thorough understanding of the worth
Art from Kate's last book

 of her work. Long before it was common practice, she demanded the return of all her original illustrations. Although her contract with Edmund Evans for Under the Window gave her one-third of the returns from sales, she requested 50 percent of the profits from all subsequent work and refused to sell the copyright on any of her designs. Greenaway’s competitor, Walter Crane, acknowledged that her earnings exceeded his own, noting that behind her unobtrusive personality he detected “a certain shrewdness.” Indeed, throughout her career, Greenaway’s business insight yielded a handsome income for both herself and her family.   Greenaway’s last book, The April Baby’s Book of Tunes, was published in 1900. She died of cancer on November 6, 1901, at the age of 55. Her sensitive work, purposefully created to honor childhood’s innocence and charm, was her gift to posterity. Greenaway never married and had no children of her own. What little we know about her personal life is gleaned from letters saved by friends and colleagues. Greenaway was resolute about her priorities, and she valued peace and seclusion over celebrity. “You must wait till I am dead,” she once wrote in response to an interview request. “Till then I wish to live my life privately—like an English gentlewoman.”
   The Kate Greenaway Medal was established by The Library Association of the United Kingdom in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children. The award is given annually in the United Kingdom by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. You can look at a list of the winners of this prestigious award here. Titles that I have loved that won the award include The Lost Words by Jack Morris, This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen, Ella's Big Chance by Shirley Hughes, and Mrs. Cockle’s Cat by Antony Maitland. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Aloha from Hawai’i with a book about sea turtles.

Aloha dear friends,
I am vacationing on the island of Kaua’i with my family, and I wish I could send you the sound of the ocean and the beautiful views.
   This morning I went for a walk along the coast, and on the way back I stopped at our favorite beach to see if any animals visitors were on the sands. Yesterday a young female Hawaiian Monk seal spent the day on the beach, resting. This morning a young female green turtle was there, fast asleep. If you are a relatively small air-breathing animal, staying at sea for days, weeks, or months is tiring, and every so often a snooze on a beach is very appealing. 
   The minute sea turtles hatch, they face a multitude of dangers. Below you will find a review of a book that tells the story of a young sea turtle.

Turtle, Turtle, Watch out!  
April Pulley Sayre
Illustrated by Annie Patterson 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Charlesbridge, 2010, 978-1580891493
One night, on a beach in Florida, Mother Turtle lays her eggs, carefully covering the clutch with sand before she goes back into the water. Thankfully for one of the baby turtles, there are people who protect her and her siblings. The people watch over the eggs so that they have a chance to hatch, and one moonlit night in August Turtle and her brothers and sisters dig their way out of the sand and head for the ocean.
   The world is a dangerous place when you are a tiny baby turtle. Turtle has to avoid the snapping jaws of hungry fish. She almost eats a plastic bag, which so much resembles the jellyfish that she likes to eat.
When she is grown and out in the deep ocean, she needs to avoid hungry sharks, and she almost gets caught in a net. Luckily, the net has an escape hatch built into it that was put there just so that turtles like her would not drown in the nets.
   In this beautiful picture book Annie Patterson tells a gripping story about the life of a female turtle, following her over the years from the moment she is laid in an egg, to the moment when she lays her own clutch of eggs on a beach. Patterson focuses on the many dangers the turtle faces, 
and shows her reads how people can help turtles by guarding their nests, cleaning the beaches, and installing Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) in their fishing nets.
   A section at the back of the book provides more information about sea turtle conservation, and the author shows children how they can help turtles even if they don’t live on or near a beach.
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