31 August 2004

August birthdays

Here we are, the last day of August, and I have a note on my desk reminding me to blog author birthdays, yet I kept not having time... So, without further ado, who did I miss?

August 28th was the birthday of illustrator/author Kevin Hawkes, whose new work, Sidewalk Circus (written by the amazing Paul Fleischman) has been a huge hit around here. (Their collaboration on Weslandia is one of my favorite picture books.)

August 28 was also the birthday of Tasha Tudor who celebrated her 89th birthday! Ms. Tudor has written or illustrated over 100 books, all with art that is iinstantly familiar. Her website is full of charming photos, examples of her timeless artwork, and fun facts, like this one: "She never allowed running water into her home until she turned fifty, never had central heating until she needed it for her greenhouse which was built when Tasha Tudor was in her 70's."

Last for August 28 (although not least by a long stretch!) is Brian Pinkney, son of Jerry and Gloria Pinkney. He was probably destined to be a shining star in field of children's literature, and he has obliged most impressively. His bold, powerful illustrations have guaranteed that his new books are always snatched off the shelf as soon as we put them out. The cover of Duke Ellington is one of my favorite paintings; I'd love to have a full-sized poster of it!

August 30th would have been the 95th birthday of Virginia Lee Burton. Her best known book, loved by children everywhere since it's publication in 1939, is surely Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. (In an unforgettable passage of Ramona the Pest, Ramona asks her teacher what we all wondered: "Miss Binney, I want to know -- how did Mike Mulligan go to the bathroom when he was digging the basement of the town hall?") Honestly, though, my favorite of her books was always The Little House. Wasn't there a cartoon made of this book? Maybe that influenced my preference...

Donald Crews, author of another perrenial favorite, Freight Train, also celebrated a birthday on August 30th. His bio at the Harper Collins' site reports that "When Donald Crews is asked why he focuses on picture books, he frequently answers, 'Why not?'" I know about a gazillion little boys (and girls, too) who would sound out a hearty "woo-hoo!" that he has chosen to create picture books.

The final August 30 birthday belongs to Laurent de Brunhoff, keeper of the Babar flame. I am a bit embarrassed to confess that, although I sent Babar Christmas cards one year, I have never actually read the books. (Wait! That's not entirely true. I love Yoga for Elephants. In fact, I even conduct a yoga class for kids at the library that bears that name!) I really have to check out that book some day!

Whew! Next month, I will stay more on task!

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