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Juvenile Miscellany
Volume 24, Number 1 (Spring 1996)

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29TH ANNUAL CHILDREN'S BOOK FESTIVAL HONORS
PATRICIA MACLACHLAN

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

The University of Southern Mississippi was pleased to welcome our 1996 Medallion winner, Patricia MacLachlan, back to the campus. At her 1990 Children's Book Festival appearance, MacLachlan held the audience spellbound with her poignant reading from Sarah Plain and Tall. It is because of the exemplary writing ability displayed in Sarah Plain and Tall, a 1986 Newbery winner, that MacLachlan was being honored at this year's Children's Book Festival.

Patricia MacLachlan was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her parents - both teachers -fostered her love of books and reading from a very early age. She fondly remembers visits to the library with her mother and her father acting out the scenes of her favorite books. It was while living in Wyoming that she formed a lifelong connection with the land. To this day she carries a bag of prairie dirt with her to remember her roots.

Although MacLachlan did not write stories as a child, her creativity produced Mary, an imaginary friend who would reside in the MacLachlan home for a number of years. Her professional writing did not begin until many years later when at the age of 35, MacLachlan felt the need for a change in her life. She was a wife and the mother of three, working full time with foster mothers at a family services agency. She considered going back to school or returning to teaching, but she felt very satisfied with a series of journal articles she had written on adoption and foster mothers. Perhaps writing was the change she needed. Although she is better known for novels, MacLachlan began her career writing picture books, the first being The Sick Day, published in 1979, followed by Through Grandpa's Eyes in 1980. Also in 1980, her first novel was published, Arthur for the Very First Time. It was recognized by the American Library Association as a Notable Book for the year, received the Golden Kite Award for Fiction in 1980, and was chosen as a Literary Guild selection.

Critical acclaim began with reviews for Arthur for the Very First Time and has not stopped. In addition to the Newbery Medal in 1986, Sarah Plain and Tall received the 1986 Christopher Award, the 1985 Golden Kite Award for Fiction, the 1986 Jefferson Cup Award, the International Board on Books for Young People Writing Award in 1988, and the 1985 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In addition, the title has been listed on numerous best book lists, including the New York Times Notable Books of the Year, Horn Book Fanfare Honor List, School Library Journal Best Books, and The Christian Science Monitor Best Children's Books.

All of MacLachlan's stories are for children, rather than young adults, and most center around the complexities of family love and life. According to Ethel L. Heins, MacLachlan's work "shows a fine mastery of the difficult art of writing for preadolescents without flippancy, patronizing, or sentimentality." Heins goes on to say, "MacLachlan views children not in isolation but in their close, though sometimes stormy, relationships with nurturing adults."

In the 1980s, MacLachlan had a very close and productive professional relationship with editor Charlotte Zolotow. A number of her books, Mama One, Mama Two (1982); Tomorrow's Wizard (1982); Cassie Binegar (1982); Seven Kisses in a Row (1983); Unclaimed Treasures (1984); Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985); The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt (1988); and Three Names (1991) were all issued under the Zolotow imprint.

MacLachlan lives in western Massachusetts, where she spends her time "as a wife, reader, teacher, bird-watcher, and cello player on the good days." Recent titles include Baby (1993) and two picture books, All the Places to Love (1994) and What You Know First (1995).

MacLachlan is currently working on several projects, the first being a living memory of her father and her past, tentatively titled "Three Names." "Five Writers - Their Lives, Their Literature and Their Landscape" is a book of writings about Cynthia Rylant, Jean Craighead George, Robert Cormier, Ashley Bryan, and Byrd Baylor, accompanied by photographs taken by MacLachlan's son, John.


Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

RICHARD EGIELSKI

Born in New York City and educated at the High School of Art and Design, the Pratt Institute, and Parsons School of Design, Richard Egielski has been well prepared for his outstanding career in children's book illustration. In high school he was taught by Irwin Greenberg, mentor of John Steptoe, and while at Parsons, he took a course in children's book illustration from Maurice Sendak, the most important teacher he ever had. It was under the guidance of Sendak that Egielski realized his natural disposition towards picture books. The son of a police lieutenant and an executive secretary, Egielski grew up drawing. He has fond memories of spending Saturday mornings in front of the television trying to duplicate the drawings of artist John Gnagy.

Egielski's career in children's book illustration began when he encountered author Arthur Yorinks in an elevator at school. Yorinks, it seemed, was looking for an illustrator for his stories. After a mutual decision that their stories and art belonged together, the pair created Sid and Sol, published in 1977. Other collaborations include Louis the Fish; Oh, Brother; It Happened in Pinsk; Bravo, Minski; and the 1987 Caldecott winning Hey, Al. His work with Pam Conrad has given us the endearing Tub People family, featured in The Tub People and The Tub Grandfather. A sequel, tentatively entitled The Tub Christmas, is due for future release. Other author collaborations include five books with Miriam Chaikin and a recent book with Bill Martin, Jr.

As with many artists who illustrate texts created by others, Egielski now has his own stories that he will illustrate. Buz, the first book both written and illustrated by Egielski, was recently named to the prestigious list of New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year for 1995. Buz is a high adventure story featuring a bug, the boy who swallowed the bug, two Keystone cop pills, and a technicolor chase through the human body.

Although he always works in watercolor, Egielski varies the paper surface on which he paints to achieve a different feel for each book. He is well known for his innovative use of color, but in books like Sid and Sol, it is the starkness of the black and white drawings that enhances the story.

Future projects include a retelling of The Gingerbread Boy and Three Magic Balls, his second solo effort. Egielski and his wife Denise, also a children's book illustrator, live in New Jersey with their young son, Ian, and their dog, Daisy.

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

BRUCE McMILLAN

Maine native Bruce McMillan is a self-styled writer and photo-illustrator for children. McMillan was given a camera at age five by his father and even after more than forty years of practice, he still learns something with each shoot. McMillan cites his father as being the greatest teacher in his life, who showed him by example, rather than telling him what to do. Early in his career he won a photo contest sponsored by Readers' Digest, winning a trip to Hawaii as the prize.

McMillan is perhaps best known for his concept books for young children, among them Here a Chick, There a Chick; Eating Fractions; One, Two, One Pair!; Growing Colors; Dry or Wet?; Fire Engine Shapes; Super, Super, Superwords; and Becca Backward, Becca Frontward. They feature bold, colorful photographs that invite the child to explore both familiar and new territory. Concept books continue to be in demand by teachers and librarians, as evidenced by his Eating Fractions, his most popular and best-selling title.

In addition to concept books, McMillan also does outstanding nature photography. His travels have taken him to Antarctica, Iceland, and the Caribbean to capture the natural habitat of penguins, puffins, and whales and to explore the summer ice of the Antarctic peninsula.

In Grandfather's Trolley (1995), McMillan departs from his usual style. To capture the feel of the early 1900s, the photographs were first shot in black and white and the prints were toned brown.In the final step, the prints were hand tinted with transparent oil colors. To add to the soft feel, he smeared the edges of his clear lens-filter with petroleum jelly.

McMillan's titles are found on every prestigious journal's listing of children's books including School Library Journal, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Booklist, Horn Book, Science Books and Films, and Kirkus.

In his presentation at USM, McMillan discussed some of the joys and problems of creating photographs to be used in children's books. He often finds it necessary to shoot as many as 3200 pictures for a 32 page book. McMillan finds himself in total control of the book, serving as talent scout, art designer, set director, author, illustrator, and typesetter. Through the slide presentation, he was able to show the development of a recent book, Jelly Beans for Sale. "Wild Flamingos" and "Icelandic Ponies" are among McMillan's current book projects.

When McMillan is not busy with his camera, he teaches a course entitled "Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books" at the University of Southern Maine and the University of New Hampshire. He loves the possibility of finding a new talent and also in passing along the knowledge that would have been so helpful to him in his early days of creating children's books.

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

TOM FEELINGS

Tom Feelings was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community of Brooklyn, New York. His interest in art began at a very young age, when he would copy cartoon characters and create his own comic strips. All of his earliest work was simply copied from what he saw in books, newspapers, and movies. His mother would fold blank sheets of paper in half and stitch them together on her sewing machine. She would tell him to "draw her a book," a feat which he quickly accomplished in these "mama-made books."

Feelings' early art training came from Mr. Thipadeaux, a local artist who was teaching at the Police Athletic League in his neighborhood. Not only was he a live, working artist, he was a black artist, the first that Feelings had ever met. Thipadeaux believed in Feelings' ability and urged him to practice to develop his skills so that he could "finally put down on paper not just what you see, but also what you feel about the subjects you draw and paint."

Feelings majored in art in high school and upon graduation, he received a scholarship to the School of Visual Arts. He attended classes for two years before entering the U.S. Air Force in 1953. His first printed work was a comic strip called "Tommy Traveler in the World of Negro History." This creative strip was published in New York Age, a Harlem newspaper in the late 1950s. The strip spoke to Feelings' concern that black people were not well represented in books. Feelings worked as a free lance artist, spending many hours drawing the black people of his community. He felt that realism demanded the imposition of a point of view. During these years his work was used in The Liberator, Look, Harper's, and Freedomways.

In 1964 Feelings left the United States and lived for two years in Ghana where he worked for the Ghana Government Publishing House. There he was astounded by the warmth and pride of the black people in Africa - a real black power. The children were happy and secure, feelings that he for so long wanted to see in the black children of America. It was the first time that he was in the majority and he found what it meant to belong to a place. When he returned to the United States in 1966, he senses many changes. Reaffirming his belief that black children need to see positive images of themselves in their books, Feelings turned his attention to children's book illustration now that publishers were encouraging black authors and illustrators. His first published title was Bola and the Oba's Drummers, published in 1967. After illustrating several other titles written by white authors, Feelings provided illustration for Julius Lester's Newbery Honor winner To Be a Slave, where he was finally able to combine all elements in an appropriate combination. Tom and his former wife, Muriel, collaborated on two critically acclaimed works - Moja Means One and Jambo Means Hello - designed to teach the Swahili number system and alphabet. Both works were named Caldecott honor books. Since that time, he has worked with many distinguished black writers, including Nikki Grimes, Eloise Greenfield, and Maya Angelou.

Feelings showed slides of sketches from his most recent work, The Middle Passage, which was published by Dial in 1995 and received the 1996 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. The idea for this work began in the early 1960s when Feelings worked and lived in Ghana. While discussing the implications of the slave trade from Africa with his new Ghanian friends, he felt a need to express his feelings about this horrible time in history. It was ten years later, when he had returned to the United States and successfully started a career in children's book illustration, that the method for his storytelling became obvious. Finally, twenty years after he began researching the project, The Middle Passage is a reality. Of that work Feelings comments: "I have finished this long spiritual and psychological journey...back in order to move forward with the completion of the last painting of The Middle Passage - a story that has changed me forever. My struggle to tell this African story, to create this artwork as well as live creatively under any conditions and survive, as my ancestors did, embodies my particular heritage in this world. As the blues, jazz and spirituals teach, one must embrace all of life, both its pain and joy, creatively. Knowing this I, we, may be disappointed, but never destroyed."

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

IONA OPIE

Scholar, collector, lecturer, and folklorist are but a few of the words that can be used to describe Iona Opie. Scholars in the field of children's literature certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Iona Opie and her late husband, Peter. They are the authors of a number of books that set the standard for research and scholarship in the field. Before the publication of their Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes in 1951, children's literature issues were dismissed as too trivial for serious thought.

Their undying curiosity about the origins of children's games, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales led them to produce more than 15 books, including The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959), Children's Games in Street and Playground (1969), The Oxford Book of Children's Verse (1973), The Classic Fairy Tales (1974), Three Centuries of Nursery Rhymes and Poetry for Children (1977), and A Nursery Companion (1980).

Since Peter's death in 1982, Iona has supervised the publication of The Singing Game (1985), Tail Feathers from Mother Goose (1988), A Dictionary of Superstitions (1989), and in 1990, The Treasures of Childhood: Books, Toys, and Games from the Opie Collection, co-authored with Brian Alderson and her son, Robert Opie. This beautiful work details the contents of the two collections amassed by the Opies since 1945, when they purchased The Cheerful Warbler (ca. 1820). The book collection grew to 20,000 volumes and the complementary collection of toys and games is outstanding for its many examples in mint condition. It was these two collections that the Opies had hoped would someday be the basis for a center for the study of childhood. But Peter's untimely death put an end to such dreams. The book collection was appraised at one million pounds and offered to the Bodleian for half of that amount. The Opie Appeal was launched under the patronage of the Prince of Wales and in 1988, eighteen months later, the goal had been met and the books were transferred to the Bodleian. The toy and game collection is still in the possession of Iona Opie. In 1989 an agreement was made with University Microfilms International (UMI) to microfilm and distribute the Opie Collection. Included are more than 20,000 bound volumes and 1,100 chapbooks, battledores, comics, magazines, penny dreadfuls, and picture books. The filming began in 1990 and will be published in units, organized by book type.

The Opies and their work have received numerous awards and recognitions. Children's Games in Street and Playground won the Chicago Folklore Prize and The Singing Game was awarded the 1986 Katharine Briggs Folklore Award, the 1987 Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, and the 1988 Children's Literature Association Award for Excellence in Literary Criticism in the book category. Iona Opie was awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award of the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society in 1991 and in the same year delivered the prestigious Arbuthnot Honor Lecture at the Library of Congress.

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

LEONARD S. MARCUS

The University of Southern Mississippi and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation were pleased to welcome Leonard S. Marcus as the eleventh Ezra Jack Keats Lecturer. Marcus is a historian, author, critic, and lecturer in the field of children's literature. He has been the children's book reviewer for Parenting magazine since its founding in 1987, and has overall responsibility for Parenting's annual Reading Magic Awards for excellence in children's literature. His most recent books include 75 Years of Children's Book Week Posters (Knopf) and, for young adult readers and their families, Lifelines: A Poetry Anthology Patterned on the Stages of Life (Dutton). In addition, Beacon Press recently brought out the paperback edition of his critically acclaimed biography Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon.

His current projects include a collection of the letters of Harper's great editor Ursula Nordstrom to her authors (Margaret Wise Brown, E.B. White, Maurice Sendak, and others) and a general history of children's book publishing in the United States, from colonial times to the present.

In his lecture, "Ezra Jack Keats: Children's Artist of the City," Marcus explored the aspects of Keats' life that led to his eventual career in children's book production. Although Keats is best known for his children's book art, he was thirty-eight- years old before he illustrated his first children's book, Jubilant for Sure, in 1954. But prior to that time, he was involved in commercial art, producing comic books, dust jackets, and note cards. Wanting to develop his style as a fine artist, Keats spent time in Paris studying at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. When he returned to the U.S. in 1949, he had to reinvent himself and find a new path as an artist.

His early work was providing illustrations for stories written by others. Although satisfying in a financial sense, his creativity was not fully realized until he was the creator of the entire book. This first occurred with The Snowy Day, for which he was awarded the 1963 Caldecott Medal.

Keats books are so successful due in part to his keen awareness of the development of children and their changing perceptions of the world around them. The reader has to focus on the underlying qualities of his books to discover what was in his mind and his imagination. His work has a core of honesty, always leaving children with a sense of hope. It is the quality of poetry, present in both the visual and the textual images, that make his books universally appealing and timeless.

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

STORYTELLER BARBARA FREEMAN ENTRANCES AUDIENCE

A practitioner of tandem storytelling, Barbara Freeman is one-half of the famous Folktellers. Her partner is her cousin Connie Regan-Blake, and together they have performed for appreciative audiences throughout the United States and in 13 foreign countries. Barbara's audience in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on March 6 was no exception.

Freeman was one of the first storytellers to appear at major United States and Canadian folk festivals and is the recipient of the "Most Outstanding Performer" award. Her work has been recognized by "Good Morning America," Laugh-Makers Magazine, Saturday Evening Post, and School Library Journal.

The Folktellers have produced a number of excellent storytelling cassettes, including Tales to Grow On (1981), White Horses and Whippoorwills (1981), Chillers (1983), Homespun Tales (1986), Mountain Sweet Talk (1988), Stories for the Road (1992), Christmas at the Homeplace (1992), and Pennies, Pets and Peanut Butter (1994). Her earlier works have all been recognized by the Parents' Choice Foundation and the American Library Association for their distinguished content. Pennies, Pets and Peanut Butter has won the Parents' Choice Silver Honor Medal, as well as Storytelling World's Honor Award presented at the 1995 meeting of the International Reading Association.

Sections of this article:
[Patricia MacLachlan] [Richard Egielski] [Bruce McMillan] [Tom Feelings]
[Iona Opie] [Leonard Marcus] [Storyteller-Barbara Freeman]

 

Contact:
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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