Saturday, August 28, 2010

30th August Virginia Lee Burton (1909 - 1968) Donald Crews (1938) Ariane Dewey

Virginia Lee Burton is the author of classics such as Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, and Katy and the Big Snow, two stories written for her own boys who loved machines and The Little House which won the 1943 Caldecott Medal. Her books which have all had their 60th anniversary depict friendship, loyalty and hard work at the same time as a sense of nostalgia. For children today they may appear unexciting visually when compared to what they are used to, but when read they are more enamoured and they do have a place in the history of picture books which students can be fascinated by if the teacher is well-informed and passionate about the topic.

Donald Crews books are almost the antithesis of Virginia Lee Burton's. They are bold, colourful, often textless or have minimal text and include significant paper engineering. They are concept or information books for the very young. I knew little about Donald Crews but having done some quick research, I am pleased to see that he is married to illustrator Ann Jonas and is the father of Nina Crews. What a children's book family that is! His Freight Train won the 1979 Caldecott Medal and he went on then to do other books about modes of transport. I particularly like Ten Black Dots.

Ariane Dewey is an illustrator with Jose Aruego of many children's books. She says that Jose draws the lines and then she is the 'colour expert'. She has written and illustrated books on her own, but she is best known for books that she has worked on with others. The collection of poems about penguins called Antarctic Antics is well read in my library and many of the preschool parents borrow Milton the Early Riser. Like The Littlest Wolf which features on her website, many of her books feature animals as the main characters and use bright colours.

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