Thursday, May 27, 2010

29th May Eleanor Coerr (1922 ) Andrew McLean (1946)

Eleanor Coerr was born in Canada and began her working life as a journalist. She visited Japan in 1949 to interview Japanese people about their after war experiences for the Ottawa Journal. She had trouble finding people who spoke English so she decided to learn Japanese. She spent three years in Japan travelling and writing. In 1963 she returned to Japan and while visiting Peace Park in reconstructed Hiroshima she saw a statue of Sadako Sasaki. This inspired her well-known book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes which so many school children all over the world have read, discussed, been angered by and then been inspired by to fold paper cranes and take part in peace activities. While the original novel is short and compelling, the story was made even more powerful for younger children when it was illustrated in 1985 by Ed Young.

Andrew McLean is a well-known Australian illustrator of children's books. He is quite prolific and most years he would have at least one book on the shortlist for a Children's Book Council of Australia Award. He won the Book of the Year: Early Childhood in the first year that it was awarded in 2001 for You'll Wake the Baby (written by Catherine Jinks) and then he won it again in 2003 for A Year on Our Farm (written by Penny Matthews).

That he is so successful at producing beautiful picture books is probably not surprising when you read that he has said, "I like drawing for young children. I am attracted to
the simplicity, honesty and directness of the picture book."

Andrew began his illustrating career illustrating stories written by his Kindergarten teacher wife Janet McLean. Their first book The Riverboat Crew was
published in 1978. Now he also illustrates books written by other authors. His newest, coincidentally both poetry books, A Goat in a Coat for Rosemary Milne, the author of the Play School jingle There's a Bear in There and an illustrated version of Dorothea Mackellar's poem My Country.

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