Monday, September 13, 2010

14th September Eve Sutton (1906 - 1992) Diane Goode(1949) John Steptoe (1950 - 1989)

Eve Sutton is the New Zealand author of My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes, the book that began Lynley Dodd's career in children's literature. She illustrated it for a cousin by marriage, Eve Sutton. The book was a huge success with very young children because of its repetitive rhyme and rhythm, its topic, cats who like to sleep everywhere, and its fun illustrations.

Diane Goode was born in Brooklyn into a French and Italian family. I first met her through her two books Where's Our Mama? and Mama's Perfect Present which were in my library when I inherited it. They appealed to the parents because they were written in English and French and as French is the foreign language taught at school it meant that they could practise their French too. With the first title they get the added bonus of it being a story where the children who have lost their mother are wandering around a 1920 Paris railway station describing their mother as the best mother ever. The more recent books in the library that are by Diane Goode are ones that she has not written, but illustrated, and they have a much less distinct French or historical feel. She illustrated books for Elise Primavera (Louise the Big Cheese) and Cynthia Rylant (Alligator Boy).

John Steptoe was also born in Brooklyn, one year after Diane Goode, but unfortunately his life was short, as he died when he was only 38. He began his first book (Stevie) when he was only sixteen. All of his published work (which included 15 picture books in 20 years) deals with the African American experience, issues and concerns. Very few authors and illustrators were African Americans at that time and he helped to change the stereotypical view of his people.He used his own family as models for the characters in his best known and Caldecott Honor book Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. This beautiful book is a retelling of the Cinderella story set in ancient Africa among the ruins of Zimbabwe.

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