Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Trina Schart Hyman was born April 8, 1939. I had the very great honor and pleasure of knowing Trina---we lived not far from each other, I in Vermont and Trina in New Hampshire, for a number of years. Trina was a brash, outspoken, electrifying person, and her art reflected her personality. Her books received many awards for illustration.  Some of them also had the distinction of appearing on lists of Banned Books!
Whatever Trina illustrated came alive in her exuberant art that leaps off the page with its vitality.
Her handling of black and white media was masterful. And she gave her very best to every piece she created, no matter how insignificant it might have seemed to others.
She gave her readers new insights into innumerable fairy tales... 
...and folk tales. Trina's work speaks for itself---its strength, competence, the emotion it carries, the skill with which it was executed, all are so apparent to the viewer. All I can say is that Trina was a Great Master of the art of children's books. She died in 2004 of breast cancer. The world of illustration was greatly diminished by her death.
Read more about Trina here: 

Friday, April 18, 2014


My five postings this week are in honor of National Library Week, April 13-19

Blake Memorial Library, East Corinth, VT
When my two children were growing up, we lived in the small rural Vermont village of East Corinth. Within walking distance of our tiny 200-year-old house were the General Store, the Post Office---and the Blake Memorial Library. This was, and still is, the best kind of living situation I can imagine for myself. 
Original Blake Memorial Library building
The first Blake Memorial Library building, shown above in this photo, burned down in 1945.  It was replaced by the building that I and my children knew.
Blake Memorial was not only a collection of books.  The library's quirky interior was the designated spot for the Bridge Club, Children's Story Hours, and other library and community programs. More than that, it was a place for social connection.  If I had been buried in my studio for hours and days, meeting an all-too-close deadline, and suddenly realized I was desperate for human contact, the solution was right at hand. I had only to walk out my door, go down the street to the Blake Memorial, and spend a pleasant hour or two of conversation with Bev Longo the librarian, and any other of my neighbors who happened to be there. 
The Blake Memorial Library, and the center of East Corinth, also has an unusual claim to fame: the town was the setting, when we were living there, for much of the filming of the cult movie Beetlejuice. After a while, though, the thrill of the filming began to wear off, and the excitement turned into disruption for most inhabitants. It was good to finally return to being just a small Vermont town---with a General Store, a Post Office...and a Library.

For more about the Blake Memorial Library, follow these links:



Thursday, April 17, 2014


My five postings this week are in honor of National Library Week, April 13-19
East facade and main entrance of the M. Carey Thomas Library
The M. Carey Thomas Library, at my alma mater Bryn Mawr College, was at first glance, and superficially, far grander and awe-inspiring than any library I had so far encountered.  But beneath and behind its imposing structure were the same elements of every other library: books, and people to help me find the books.
Main entrance to M. Carey Thomas Library
The huge front windows allowed sunlight to stream into the main reading room.
I didn't like to use this room, however.  People talked too much in here! Instead, I went downstairs into the stacks.  Here I could usually find an empty study carrel.  Once ensconced there, I was always in heaven.  On my right, close at hand, stretched shelf after shelf of volumes on classical Latin, Greek Archeology, and Art History---my field of study.
And on my left, a leaded glass window that looked out into an enclosed garden of shrubbery and flowers. (I could not find a photo of the Thomas Library carrels, so I have substituted this one, which gives the same feel.)  I remember one winter afternoon in particular:  I sat in the carrel, reading Lucretius's "The Nature of Things" in Latin, its original language---a piece composed around 50 B.C.  Outside, snow fell thickly in huge flakes, building up on the evergreen branches that brushed against the leaded pane windows.  All around me was the smell and aura of books, of history, of thought; of a long handing-down from one generation to the next of words, excitement, ideas.  I was content.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


 My five postings this week will be in honor of National Library Week, April 13-19

When I was a child growing up in Putney, Vermont, the Putney Public Library was for everyday. The Brattleboro Public Library, ten miles south, was for Mom-Goes-Shopping-in-Brattleboro days. I had a whole passel of siblings, and since we were all of tender age, we accompanied our mother with her on her shopping expeditions, whether we wanted to or not.  Mom's shopping was always a long drawn-out affair, with slow progressions through one boring store after another, delayed even further by Mom's lengthy conversations with any friends she encountered---enough to drive any normal child to distraction. The one thing that could save our sanity was a visit to the Brattleboro Library.
Lugging my huge armful of books to be returned, I always approached the front steps of this beautiful building with a physical thrill of anticipation.
The interior was dark and mysterious and cool, panelled everywhere with burnished wood, and carrying that smell of musty books, furniture polish, and age so characteristic of older libraries.
My siblings and I always headed for the Children's Room, downstairs. Here I would stock up with as many volumes as I could manage to carry. Hopefully there would be enough last me until the next Shopping Day. If they didn't---well, I might even urge Mom to go on one of those hated Shopping Days sooner than planned, just so I could once again breathe in the scent of the library, and lose myself in the delicious contemplation of books, books, books.  

The building in these photos was torn down and replaced in 1967 by a more modern structure. But the library itself---the books, and the people---has continued uninterrupted, a vibrant mecca for children of Shopping Moms and Dads---and for the rest of the world as well.

Read more about this wonderful library at http://brookslibraryvt.org

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


My five blog postings this week will be in honor of National Library Week

The Center of Putney Village, looking north towards the General Store and Mellen's Store.These buildings still stand, but the beautiful elm trees were all lost to Dutch Elm Disease 

When my parents married, they left behind their New York City/Ho-Ho-Kus New Jersey roots, and opted for a rural, more self-sufficient kind of lifestyle. So I grew up on a farm a mile or two outside the small town of Putney, Vermont. Small town truly meant small town...around 350 inhabitants, in the 1940's. Nevertheless the town already had a history of non-conformity amongst its citizenry, and it was still a hotbed of radical thinking when we lived there---radical thinking that often clashed with the conservative agricultural background of the area.  
Putney, Vermont railway station
My illustrator father travelled back and forth on the train to keep up his New York publishing contacts, and editors and art directors travelled up on the same train to stay with us while they conducted business. Other train travellers were involved with The Putney School, The Experiment In International Living, Windham College, and Marlboro College with its summer Marlboro Music Festival---and the comings and goings of these folk from all sorts of backgrounds kept things bubbling.  As a child, I didn't know that I was growing up in an atmosphere of intellectual, social, and artistic ferment.  But I was very aware of The Putney Public Library---a regular destination for our family.
The Town Hall, Putney, Vermont
The library was housed in the Town Hall, a truly multi-purpose building that still stands.  When you climbed the front steps and entered the building, you had choices. You could walk straight ahead, where the U. S. Postal Service had two old-fashioned grilled windows for customers.  You could take the stairs to the second floor auditorium, where raucous Town Meetings and other large events were held. Or you could opt for the door on the left, and enter The Putney Public Library. It was a small room, and a small library, but a paradise for me. Eleanor Carey was the librarian there---though for children she was "Mrs. Carey"---and she filled that position for many, many years. When I was living in New York City as a young getting-started professional, I received a phone call one day from Eleanor.  She was in the city for an ALA convention, and she and a group of fellow-librarians wanted to come visit me. I was surprised that she was attending the ALA. I was especially surprised to learn that she admired my work, and that she wanted to bring her friends to my studio home. They came. I served them tea and home-made cookies. And I learned a new respect for this small-town librarian.  Eleanor was so interested in the rest of the world, and she devoted her entire adult life to bringing some of that world, through books, to her community.

Check out this link for a brief overview of Putney's amazing history:

Monday, April 14, 2014


My five blogs this week will be in honor of National Library Week, April 13-19.
When my young parents bought this gracious brick building (the first house they owned, and at that time an 8-hour drive from New York City), they immediately designated one of its rooms as The Library.  Thus it was that in the room behind the two lower right windows in this photo I first discovered the delights of...the library.
My father lined all four walls of this room with his finely crafted built-in bookshelves. A large round table---"The Library Table"--was ensconced. (My mother and grandmother probably found the table at one of the auctions they loved to frequent.) My parents had no trouble filling the shelves.  My father was a professional book illustrator; my mother was a writer; and they both came from backgrounds that valued highly the arts of reading, writing, and books.  The library shelves held the Scribner's Illustrated Classics, like Treasure Island or Smoky The Cow Horse, illustrated by people like N. C Wyeth and Arthur Szyk. They held Limited Editions volumes, like Alice In Wonderland, or The Wind In The Willows, with illustrations by people like Arthur Rackham and Edward Wilson. They held Heritage Club Editions, like War and Peace with its fine lithographs by Fritz Eichenberg, or even Honore Balzac's Droll Stories with its bawdy line drawings by Boris Artzybasheff.  I devoured all of these before I was 12 years old. But these were not my very first memories of the library.
No, my first memory was of The Library Table.  Our table was definitely second-hand. Used. Worn. Shabby. Not like the beautiful polished specimen in this photo. But when my brother Peter and I, at the ages of 3 and 5, first played in the library underneath this table, we made an amazing discovery. Our mother never allowed us to have candy or sweets of any kind. Yet here were wads of old, dried-up, already-chewed gum, cleverly stuck to the underneath of the tabletop. Many wads. The best part? We could pry the wads off the table, chew them ourselves, and then stick them back up, without anyone else ever knowing!  

I haved loved libraries ever since.