Wednesday, May 5, 2010

6th May Randall Jarrell (1914 - 1965) Ted Lewin (1935)

Randall Jarrell was an American poet, but for me he is the author of two wonderful books, The Animal Family and The Gingerbread Rabbit. I have never read The Animal Family to a group of children where they haven't been transfixed and then so disappointed that the book finished. It is the very improbable story of a hunter, a mermaid and a bear who become a family, but it exudes warmth, wonder and the power of love. It has the timeless message that love can overcome anything. The Gingerbread Rabbit is for younger readers and it begins similarly to The Gingerbread Man, but it to is about acceptance, family and finding your place.

Randall Jarrell died in the same year that The Animal Family was published which
is such a shame because it could have been that there were many more 'gems' to come. An extra bonus with this book is that it is illustrated by Maurice Sendak, even though the cover quaintly says 'with decorations by Maurice Sendak'. This is such a special book!

I do not know much of Ted Lewin's work. He is an American illustrator who has travelled extensively with his illustrator wife Betsy Lewin. The library has two of his books, Sacred River and The Day of Ahmed's Secret. His illustrations in these two are detailed, very realistic and use strong colour befitting their setting, India in the first and Egypt in the second. I went on a search to see what other books Ted Lewin had illustrated and was surprised to see that he has been to
Australia and has published a book with his wife Betsy called Top to Bottom Down Under which apparently is an action-packed adventure journey set here. Why isn't it popular in Australian libraries?

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