This is my entry for the Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award, sponsored by SCBWI. The winner will be announced January 2nd.
This year Mr. dePaola chose text from Chicken Licken, and it’s a mouthful with no less than 6 speaking characters.
So they went along and went along until they met Turkey Lurkey.
“Good morning, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Daddles, Cocky Locky, Henny Penny,
and Chicken Licken,” said Turkey Lurkey, “where are you going?”
“Oh, Turkey Lurkey, the sky is falling and we are going to tell the King!”
“How do you know the sky is falling?” asked Turkey Lurkey.
“Ducky Daddles told me,” said Goosey Loosey.
“Cocky Locky told me,” said Ducky Daddles.
“Henny Penny told me,” said Cocky Locky.
“Chicken Licken told me,” said Henny Penny
“I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears,
and a piece of it fell on my tail!” said Chicken Licken.
“Then I will go with you,” said Turkey Lurkey, “and we will tell the King!”
It surprised me how much my finished piece resembles the first of my thumbnail sketches.
This is my full-size pencil sketch.
I’ve become enamored with folk-embroidery and costuming, so it was a real joy to create a cast of multi-cultural fowl, set in a time long ago.
This image by the 19th century Russian painter Ivan Shishkin was the inspiration for my setting.
Don’t we all wish we had a winding path, a stream, and a birch tree forest?
There aren’t many birch forests down here in So. California, but I was happy to find out that they do exist in the Northeast, including Illinois, where this awesome Sauk Indian once lived.
She’s in “transitional dress.” She’s adopted the calico blouse of the new settlers, but covered it with silver brooches and ornamented her traditional wraparound skirt with silk ribbons. The painter, George Catlin, was an untrained artist who dedicated his life to recording these vanishing Peoples. Interesting article on him here.
My research uncovered some colorful local wildlife, like this Yellow Bellied Sapsucker (a fun name to say),
and wildflowers. Among them are these happy, daisy-like flowers called Bloodroot.
The red sap from the roots of this plant make a natural dye and has been used for some nice and not-so-nice medicinal purposes.
Turkey Lurkey is a Native American from the Sauk tribe. She’s weeding with a scapula hoe, a traditional tool made from the shoulder bone of a bison.
Goosey Loosey is French-Canadian. She’s returning from market with, among other things, a bottle of wine and some french bread. She’s holding a parasol similar to the one Monet painted.
This is one of many images I looked at to figure out a traditional French costume.
Henny Penny is collecting mushrooms. She and Cocky Locky are Russian. They are also falling in love.
Ducky Lucky is a Mandarin duck. He’s a Chinese fisherman, inspired by Chinese Mudmen figurines.
Chicken Licken is a youngster who was riding his tricycle when a piece of the sky fell on him.
Foxy Loxy, who is overhearing their silly discourse, is Italian. He’s thinking about making a meal of chicken cattatorre with the basket of tomatoes he’s carrying.
My pretty fowl, however, will foil Foxy Loxy’s dinner plans. I envision a happy ending, culminating with a festive meal prepared with all the food they’ve grown and gathered (including Foxy Loxy’s tomatoes). And Chicken Licken’s contribution? Why, he’ll make a wondrous bouquet of wildflowers for their centerpiece.
See? he’s already started. He’s holding the state flower of Illinois, the Violet.
I’ve acquired a few books to add to my favorite Christmas book list.
I was pleased to find two illustrated by Barbara Cooney, who I adore. Both are these are text-heavy picture books, and pleasantly so! Although they take place in very different locals, both center around a young girl and have a super happy ending that leaves you in tears. The stories themselves are wonderful, but it’s Cooney’s homely, sincere illustrations that make them magical.
1. The Story of Holly and Ivy (text 1957 / illustrations 1985) by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
We jump between the story of a doll named Holly who wishes for a little girl, an orphan named Ivy who wishes for a grandmother and a doll, and a policeman’s wife who wishes for a child to share Christmas with. You care so deeply for little Ivy, wishing so much that her dogged insistence that she is going to her grandmother’s house (even though she has none) comes true and for all these players to cross paths. Like the author tells you at both the beginning and the end, “This is a story about wishing.” It’s beautiful.
2. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story (1988) by Gloria Houston, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
It’s Ruthie’s family’s turn to supply the church’s Christmas tree and for Ruthie to be the angel in the Christmas pageant. But her father is sent overseas for war and still hasn’t returned before Christmas eve as promised. With no money to buy material to make a costume, Ruthie’s mother sacrifices her wedding dress and new stockings. And Ruthie helps her mother find and fell the tree that she helped her father pick out in early spring. With a satisfying and happy conclusion.
3. A Christmas Story (1956) by Mary Chalmers.
For the wee ones who don’t have the attention spans required of the first two, this one by Mary Chalmers is sure to please. It’s quiet, innocent, and sweet. The little girl Elizabeth and friend Harry Dog bring home a christmas tree. With the help of Alice Rabbit and Hilary Cat, they set about decorating it. “It isn’t every little girl and dog and cat and rabbit who can do it.” Problem is, there’s no star to put on the top to finish it, so Elizabeth sets out to find one. The book ends with a most satisfying “There!“
4. Angela and the Baby Jesus (2007) by Frank McCourt, illustrated by Raul Colon.
I admit that I normally shy away from books that have the word Jesus right there on the cover. Fortunately this one had Raul Colon’s signature swirly-scratched artwork on the cover. The author is Frank McCourt of Angela’s Ashes fame. McCourt retells the story his mother told him of stealing Baby Jesus from the nativity scene at church when she was a young girl because she thought he was cold and needed warming up at home. It’s rather funny. And if you can muster a good Irish accent in your read-aloud, all the better — especially for when Mammy finds Baby Jesus tucked into her daughter’s bed: ”Mother ‘o God!”
5. Harold at the North Pole (1957) by Crockett Johnson.
Don’t let the cover fool you, the inside is just like the original with a sepia-toned Harold and purple line drawings. In this story, it’s up to Harold to save Christmas by helping a snowed-in Santa. With the aid of his trusty purple crayon, Harold comes to the rescue! My favorite lines, after Harold starts to draw Santa’s team of reindeer:
Soon Prancer and Dancer were pawing at the snow, eager to be off around the world. Harold wasn’t quite certain of the names of the other reindeer. But he made sure there were eight of them.
That beautifully captures the mix of young naiveté and Harold’s imaginative superpower.
6. Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days (1988) by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Sucie Stevenson.
This is a book that makes you keep a smile on your face the entire read. Rylant and Stevenson are a match made in heaven. The smily, childlike drawings emphasize Rylant’s gentle humor and support the cozy, warm feel that all the Henry and Mudge books have. This one captures the winter cold, a family’s Christmas dinner celebration (complete with Mudge sneezing turkey all over Henry), and the warm fireside.
7. The Twelve Days of Christmas (1986) by Jan Brett.
A true Jan Brett book with story within a story by the use of her signature frames at the sides of the pages. Each day of the song gets a double-spread image with its matching christmas ornament in a banner at the top. The side story is of a young man coming to his love’s house, going out together to cut down a Christmas tree, and bringing it back to her home to decorate. The lovely last page is where you can spot all the ornament’s from the song on the full decked-out tree.
8. The Christmas Day Kitten (1986), by James Herriot, illustrated by Ruth Brown.
A Christmas Day miracle book to give you some misty eyes. A stray cat that often visits the home of Mrs. Pickering (and her three lazy bloodhounds) to get food goes missing for several weeks. She comes back, thin and dirty, on Christmas Day. It’s bittersweet because the stray cat dies, but what she leaves behind warms the heart of Mrs. Pickering and will enliven their home for many Christmases to come.
9. The Night Before Christmas (1975) by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Douglas Gorsline.
An old-fashioned feel with pretty colored pen and ink illustrations. Many cute details such as the antics of the house cat throughout the story — find her bristling as Santa comes down the chimney and later rubbing against his toy bag. Gorsline does a great job portraying Santa coming down the chimney – in a double-spread image of the fireplace he’s drawn a sequential series of Santas — first you see just boots, then the pants, then a bit of torso, then full Santa in the room.
10. The Night Before Christmas (1985) by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by James Marshall.
If you’re lucky enough to find this out-of-print, you’ll get to watch Santa in Marshall’s Texas cowboy boots and a house full of bulldogs, cats, rats and chickens!
11. Baby’s Christmas, (1959) by Esther Wilkin, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.
I’m a sucker for Wilkin’s chubby-cheeked children. I’m a big fan of her cheek-endowed little ones in Hansel and Gretel, and the baby is this book is no exception. Here is rhyming text about all the presents a little baby finds on Christmas morn – Santa really spoils the bejesus out of this one. Find all the chokeable parts on the gifts baby receives!
This 12-page coloring book (5.5″ x 4.25″) features 12 children’s book characters.
I made 27 of these for my son’s 1st grade class for his birthday treat. I was pleased to see that the students didn’t seem to mind that they didn’t get blue, frosted cupcakes — they left the classroom all in smiles, flipping through the book and saying,
“I know that one, and I know that one!”
“I know that one too!”
I tried to pick book characters that most would be familiar with, like Peter and Benjamin,
And maybe (?) some less so, like Babar
It amazed me how hard it was to find coloring page images of some classics and well-loved series. I dare you to find one for Danny and the Dinosaur or Frog and Toad. Ditto for Frances, anything by James Marshall or William Steig (Shrek the movie doesn’t count), Henry and Mudge, Corduroy, or Harry (The Dirty Dog).
I made the one for Frances above and the one for Danny and The Dinosaur below. I scanned a page from the book and removed all the color in Photoshop.
I had to make a rough little dummy to figure out the page layouts, then printed them 2 to a page, front and back. Here’s the first sheet, both sides. You’ll notice that the text and corresponding image don’t match up on any of these — that only occurs on the middle page where the stitches go.
After printing, I sliced the 3 sheets in half (lengthwise) and bound the pages by stitching some yarn from the center Babar page. The stitching probably took the longest of any step, but they do look more festive than staples.
Next time I’ll try using more sturdy paper for the outside and a color image on the front.