Today is a good day for birthdays of authors of “children’s literature.” However, I am in agreement with C.S. Lewis who once said the “it certainly is my opinion that a book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then.” I also think there’s something to be said for adults who still have enough “childlikeness” to enjoy good children’s literature. So, these authors who have birthdays today are all three worth reading and enjoying–even for grownups.
Robert Bright (b.1902) wrote My Red Umbrella, the story of a little girl with an umbrella that expands to protect all her animal friends from the rain. Shouldn’t we all have just such an umbrella?
Maud Petersham (b. 1890, d.1971), along with her husband Miska, wrote and illustrated more than sixty books for children and illustrated more than one hundred books written by other authors. The Petersham book I like best is called The Box with Red Wheels.. I would love to own some of the Petershams’ other books, many of which are out of print. Maud was the daughter of a Baptist minister, and she and her Hungarian husband wrote and illustrated many retellings of Bible stories.
Ruth Sawyer (b. 1880, d. 1970) was a storyteller, folklorist, and children’s author. I need to re-read Roller Skates, the book for which she won the Newbery Award. It’s the story of a girl who explores New York City, or maybe her section of NYC, on roller skates. I found out when I looked for information about Sawyer that she started the first storytelling program for children at the New York City Public Library. Also, Robert McCloskey, author of Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, was Ruth Sawyer’s son-in-law! And my favorite Ruth Sawyer book, Journey Cake, Ho!, was illustrated by Robert McCloskey.
By the way, all the books mentioned above (except for Roller Skates which isn’t a picture book) are recommended in my self-published book, Picture Book Preschool.
It is also Wendell Berry’s birthday. Born in 1934, Mr. Berry would be 81 years old today, about the same age as my mom. His books, especially Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter, are nourishing reads with much food for thought and impetus to action, albeit action of a quiet, community-building sort.