September 18, 2008

Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

Leif the Lucky (1941)

I think I've gotten just as much pleasure from children's literature as I have from adult reading. As my children have gotten older I've decided to keep quite a bit of what we collected when they were young. I get some kind of satisfaction from collecting and reading through a series of good books. Not series like Nancy Drew (formulaic & predictable), but series written on topic the author was passionate or at least enthusiastic about. Many of my favorite children's authors wrote a group or series of stories on a theme; one example I mentioned in an earlier post; Sybil Deutscher & Opal Wheeler's biographies about the composers.

My very favorite books of this type were written by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. Among their many wonderful books are a group of picture book biographies written about early American heroes. The text is very simple, but filled with authentic details; as many as one thousand hours spent researching their subject in museums, libraries, & universities might be compressed into one book. In addition, the authors took extended camping trips to see & feel the locations where their subjects lived & worked.

The illustrations are, in my opinion the great distinguishing feature of these books, the primary reason they are still so popular today. The books have been reprinted, but in order to enjoy the spectacular depth & richness of color, obtaining an original copy is worthwhile. The D'Aulaire's employed the lithographic process of early craftsmen who without cameras worked carefully by hand. The process requires that each picture be completely drawn (no erasing is possible) on a large stone, with separate drawings made for each color. Their large, colorful illustrations were designed to appeal especially to children.

The Star Spangled Banner (1942)


Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer,
Have you read the one on Abe Lincoln? It was one of our favorites when the boys were young.

Fun is always in style. said...

Yes, we liked that one a lot too :)

Anonymous said...

I own and love several of these. I never knew all the work that went into them.
Good to see your sweet face in such an exciting location. I shall get those things to the church or to Sadie, or something. Perhaps we should meet at the Thrift Shop in your area! It would be a sacrifice for me, what with gas and all, but I like you, you know.