Friday, November 12, 2010

14th November Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) Astrid Lindgren (1907 - 2002) William Steig (1907 - 2003) Nancy Tafuri (1946)

I will write about Monet on 19th November when there isn't a birthday as three heavy-weights on one day is too many.

Astrid Lindgren is the Swedish author responsible for Pippi Longstocking, the redhaired rascal who does everything parents squirm at and children just wish that they could do. At the time Lindgren wrote her stories, nine-year old girls were, neat, quiet and obedient, in fact submissive, not stronger than any one else, self-sufficient and off having adventures. Something that girls today still relate too. The new addition of Pippi Longstocking that has large print and very white pages as well as illustrations by Lauren Child is extremely popular. It is also good to see picture book versions where it is just a chapter at a time. Following her death in 2002 the Swedish Government established the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in her memory. The award is the largest monetary award for children's and young adult literature. In 2008 Australian author, Sonya Hartnett received the award.

William Steig was born in the USA to Polish Jewish immigrants and was a cartoonist for the New Yorker before embarking on a career in children's books. He won the Caldecott Medal in 1970 for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and he is the author of Shrek! the picture book that became the basis for the movie phenomena. His books often have a talking beast as the good-hearted protagonist who overcomes adversity with the help of magic, just as Sylvester and Shrek.

Nancy Tafuri is also American. She is probably best known for Have You Seen My Duckling? but she has authored and illustrated many other books for the very young. Her books tend to have minimal text and larger than life creatures. She says that she most identifies with Beatrix Potter and her animals have a similar warmth without wearing clothing. She offers this as advice to new writers, "research the age group and keep it simple" and that is exactly what she has done. She has not ventured into any other age group or experimented with longer texts.

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