Illustration Daily – Day 107: Matilda

I adore the book “Matilda“. Here we have Matilda with Chopper, who she uses to trick her family. Matilda was actually a rewrite by Roald Dahl. In the original version Matilda wasn’t particularly precocious. Instead, the story was more of a cautionary tale. Matilda was a troublemaker that used her powers to help her teacher win a horse race, ultimately Matilda’s many wrong-doings result in her death.

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Matilda, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 106: Harold and the Purple Crayon

The creator of “Harold“, Crockett Johnson (aka David Johnson Leisk) adopted his pen name from a childhood nickname and his middle-name as he felt ‘Leisk’ was too difficult to pronounce. Married to the prolific children’s writer Ruth Kraus, the two collaborated on the book “The Carrot Seed” ten years before Harold and his crayon made their debut. In addition to his works for children, Johnson was also a fine artist who later in his career created works based on mathematics and geometry.

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Harold and the Purple Crayon, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 105: The Adventures of Pinocchio

I’m back! My eyes are still very light sensitive so I’m working mostly in the dark and with all my screens on the lowest brightness, so hopefully this image looks okay. Now – let’s get to it. Until a couple years ago I had never read “The Adventures of Pinocchio“. I’d seen the Disney version, of course, and as creepy as the whole “Pleasure Island” sequence is, it’s nothing compared to book-Pinocchio. The book actually began it’s life as a newspaper serial, where the first half of the book was published. The complete book was published approximately 2 years after the Pinocchio’s debut in 1881. Depicted in this illustration is the scene where Pinocchio, left to his own devices as Geppetto languishes in jail, burns his feet off after falling asleep with them propped up on the stove. Over the course of the book Pinocchio gets into all kinds of mischief, killing a talking cricket accidentally (bye, Jiminy), bites off a cat’s paw, and is hanged. It’s certainly an interesting read, and if you’d like to check it out I’d recommend the edition illustrated by the amazing Gris Grimly.

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The Adventures of Pinocchio, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 104: Make Way for Ducklings

Robert McCloskey‘s “Make Way for Ducklings” turns 75 this year. The book has been popular enough to inspire twin sculptures of the duck family in both Boston (the book’s setting) and Moscow. While working on “Make Way for Ducklings” McCloskey actually kept six ducklings in his apartment to serve as models. His preparatory sketches can be viewed online thanks to the Boston Public Library.

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Make Way for Ducklings, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 103: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

From the start “The Wizard of Oz” was a huge success, the first printing of 10,000 copies priced at $1.50 (just over $40 dollars if adjusted for inflation) sold out in just two weeks. This must have been a huge relief to L. Frank Baum and the illustrator W.W. Denslow as they had paid for the color plates out of their own pockets when the publisher didn’t want to invest in the extra expense.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 102: Hansel and Gretel

This month is really about children’s literature. So I feel a little like I’m cheating when my fact today is about a film. However, “Hansel and Gretel” is so well known, I had to do a little digging to find something obscure enough to be surprising. Of course “Hansel and Gretel” has seen a number of adaptions, but one I hadn’t seen was Tim Burton‘s 1982 television adaptation. It is even more crazy than you would imagine. Luckily you can watch it on YouTube and appreciate the insanity and delightfully creepy Tim Burton aesthetic.

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Hansel and Gretel, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 101: The Phantom Tollbooth

There are many things to love about “The Phantom Tollbooth,” the amusing illustrations of Jules Feiffer, the masterful wordplay of Norton Juster, the fantastic places that Milo travels to, and the unusual characters he meets. The character depicted here is King Azaz the Unabridged, ruler of Dictionopolis. One of my favorite things about “The Phantom Tollbooth” is that it is a product of procrastination. At the time Juster was supposed to be working on another book about cities for children, but frustrated with the process he ended up collaborating with his roommate (Feiffer) and Milo’s journey came to life.

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The Phantom Tollbooth, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 100: Little House on the Prairie

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for a hundred days already! Thanks so much to everyone that has supported this project so-far by liking, commenting, and following! And extra-special thanks to the people in my life that actually put up with me and all my stress and obsession over this project!  Right, so, the Little House series was written by Laura Ingalls Wilder with heavy editing and overwriting by her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. The stories of a pioneer family were compellingly based on the adventures of the Ingalls family, but were never true memoirs. Nellie Oleson, for example, was a composite of three people that Laura disliked. A recently published book called “Pioneer Girl: An Annotated Autobiography” gives a less sanitized version of Laura’s life and I’m terribly excited to read it soon.

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Little House on the Prairie, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 99: The Paper Bag Princess

This book was supposed to end with a punch. In the initial draft Elizabeth ended up punching Prince Ronald in the nose. Unfortunately Michael Martchenko‘s illustration highlighted how violent this was, and instead Princess Elizabeth calls him a bum. Well, if you’re in the US she calls him a bum. In England, Australia, New Zealand and some editions in Canada, she calls him a toad. Either way, the Paper Bag Princess is one of my favorite picture books by Robert Munsch. I just love a spunky heroine.

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The Paper Bag Princess, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 98: Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Louis Sacher‘s “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” was first introduced to me by my grandma who read it aloud to both me and my sister, so I always think of it fondly. This illustration is based on a new kid that arrives at Wayside, Sammy. Sammy had a lot of raincoats and a secret. Sacher wrote the first book of the Wayside series after working with a group of elementary school students while he was in college, so the kids in the book were named after the children that he worked with. And Louis the Yard Teacher? That really was Sacher.

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Sideways Stories from Wayside School, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 97: Curious George

The “Curious George” books were written and illustrated by a husband and wife team, Hans and Margaret Rey (shortened from Reyersbach) but published under Han’s initials as the publisher felt the children’s book industry was dominated by women. While this may not have been the best decision, the publisher’s suggestion of changing the monkey’s name from ‘Fifi‘ to ‘George’ was certainly a smart one. “Curious George” was lucky to make it to America as the Reys escaped the Nazi invasion of Paris in 1940 taking with them just a handful of personal possessions, one of which was the manuscript that was to become the first of many “Curious George books.

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Curious George, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 96: Peter and Wendy

J.M. Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy” is an enduring classic published as both a play and a novel in 1904 and 1911 respectively. It is responsible for introducing the the name Wendy, a derivative of Barrie’s nickname “fwendy” (friend-y) to our lexicon. The copyright for Peter Pan is equally unique, the copyright to the character was gifted by Barrie to the Great Ormon Street Hospital. This generous gift was set to expire in 1987, but a perpetual extension was granted so that the hospital could continue to benefit from the magic of Peter Pan.

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Peter and Wendy, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 95: Strega Nona

Inspired by the folktale “The Porridge Pot” Tomie dePaola’s, “Strega Nona” is a landmark picture-book. The folk-art inspired illustrations and amusing story blend perfectly together. It is one of those books that has a feeling of a being both new and comfortingly familiar.

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Strega Nona, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 94: The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard” spawned four sequel books and a movie, but the first book holds all the magic for me. Written by the prolific Lynne Reid Banks, “The Indian in the Cupboard” tackles the ideas of responsibility, history, race and labels with grace. As much as I loved this book though, my favorite Lynne Reid Banks book is the lesser known “The Fairy Rebel“.

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The Indian in the Cupboard, 5″x5″, ink, and watercolor on illustration board

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