Thursday, January 23, 2014

Portrait of a Librarian



Portrait of a Librarian
by Thea Green from the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries by Molly MacRae

I love everything about books. I love reading them, buying them, lending them. I love what they do for a room and what they’ll do for the room between your ears. I love repairing books when they’ve been read too exuberantly by new readers or when they’ve become fragile after a long life of being read lovingly over and over and over. I also love quotations about books. Here are three of my favorites:

Lucy Maude Montgomery
  
 “I am simply a book drunkard.” ~ L.M. Montgomery

 “A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” ~ Carl Sagan

 “Books! The best weapons in the world!” ~ Doctor Who

 

I especially love children’s books, and one of the best parts of my job is putting the right book into a child’s hands. Talk about working magic!

Last week I handed The Picture of Dorian Gray to Zach Aikens, a teenager who shows up at the library here in Blue Plum from time to time. The book isn’t new, but it was new to Zach. He thanked me, in a minimal way, and went on his way. Today he came back, admitted he liked the book, and then he asked an interesting question – out of any artist in the world, who would I want to paint my formal portrait? A formal portrait is not something I have ever wondered about. But I was unpacking a carton of new picture books at the time, and Zach’s question set me to thinking. So I asked him if I could change the question slightly, and then both of us answer it. He agreed with a minimal shrug. Here’s what I asked – out of any children’s book illustrator in the world, who would you choose for your formal portrait?

Zach’s been over in the picture book corner for the last hour, now, looking for his portraitist. He started out on his feet, flipping pages of random books. Ten minutes later he sat in one of the little chairs at the pint-sized table. Now he’s cross-legged on the floor reading Library Lion to a three-year-old who’s sitting next to him and a two-year-old who plopped down in his lap. It might be awhile before I hear his answer.

The cat in the hatThunder RoseBut what’s my answer? Hmm. Much as I like their books, probably not David Shannon with all those pointy teeth, or Lois Ehlert with her bright geometrics. What about Maurice Sendak? Or Garth Williams? I love their work. But I think, were I so lucky to have my portrait done by a children’s illustrator, I would choose Kadir Nelson. That man creates luminous pictures. His people shine. They’re heroic. Yeah, a formal portrait by Kadir Nelson. That would be sweet. I choose him. Or maybe Dr. Seuss.

How about you? Of any children’s book illustrator in the world, who would you choose to create your formal portrait?

Thea Green and the other characters in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries appeared most recently in DYEING WISHES. The series is available in mass market, e-book, and audio wherever books are sold. They return in SPINNING IN HER GRAVE coming out in March 2014 (now available for pre-order.)

Follow Molly MacRae on Facebook and Pinterest, or find her the first Monday of each month at Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts
         

23 comments:

  1. I've never thought about having my portrait made by an children's book illustrator. I'd definitely choose some one who could capture the true me. I'm a plain person and to be truthful never take very good pictures. I'm definitely a book person and I still prefer the printed material rather than the e-books, nooks and kindles.

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    1. Book people are the best people, Dianne, and never plain!

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  2. Eloise Wilkin. Her Golden Books were a mainstay of my childhood.

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  3. Okay, you got me with Dr. Seuss. Wouldn't that be fun? But maybe Ernest H. Shephard, the original Winnie the Pooh illustrator, would be more formal.

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    1. Ernest - charming, warm, perfect! Great taste, Willow!

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  4. What a marvelous idea! I'm going to have to think about this.

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    1. There are so many to choose from, Libby. Good luck trying to decide!

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  5. If we're talking children's books, I'd go for Tasha Tudor. I always felt like she captured the characters perfectly when I read The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. As an avid comic book fan during that same time, I could also go for Dave Cockrum illustrating me. Sadly, they have both passed away.

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    1. With a corgi! And you're right about her illustrations for Burnett's books. There are new editions with perfectly lovely illustrations, but I always go back to the Tasha Tudors. On the other hand, Super Sarah, as drawn by Dave Cockrum would be cool!

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  6. Since it's not going to happen anyway I will choose Maurice Sendak.

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    1. Sendak would be fabulous! I had a patron once, whose one-year-old son looked like a Sendak illustration. A beautiful child!

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  7. Definitely Dr. Seuss,.Hop on Pop was the first book I ever read!

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    1. Mine was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue. Love Seuss!

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  8. Ben Hatke, from the Zita the Space Girl series.

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  9. After thinking about it, I really have to go with Ikleback's choice and choose Eloise Wilkin. She would defiinitely do something flattering. All of her drawings were so nice! And huggable!

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    1. Huggable - that's exactly the word for them, Elaine. Good choice with Eloise Wilkin.

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    1. Definitely! When I was a little girl, I wanted to look like one of her little girls.

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  11. I love the illustrations in
    The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey Hardcover – October 2, 1995
    by Susan Wojciechowski. I read this book to my son ever Christmas.

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  12. After considering Garth Williams, I think I'd choose Bill Tandy who illustrated the early Nancy Drew mysteries. I grew up on my aunt's copies, along with early 1960's editions - I'll take a portrait as a flat-foot flapper, as someone on Wikipedia characterized the style. But I'd also like to see how I looked as one of Lois Lenski's characters!

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