In My Library

The Invisible Child by Katherine Paterson

I took an unexpected trip to Latvia this summer. My sister and brother-in-law are adopting, and I was asked to join them on a trip to visit the children. I’ll let you to imagine the heartwrenches of visiting an orphanage.
On my way out the door to my flight I grabbed Paterson’s Invisible Child off my bookshelf for travel reading, and it turned out to be a timely choice. Katherine Paterson’s fiction for children has looked hard in the face that this world groans; everything is not all right here (see her books Bridge to Terabithia, or The Great Gilly Hopkins for instance).

In this collection of speeches and essays she reflects on her career and what moves her to do the kind of writing that she does. For all the lonely, misunderstood, despised, the fearful, for those longing for approval and love, for those deeply wounded and looking for hope – these are the children to whom Katherine writes. In other words humans (be it young ones). But for all their hurts, there is meaning in the universe; she wants her readers to know that, and perhaps by means of a story she can help them see it.

In My Library

Ways of Telling and Show Me a Story by Leonard Marcus

I recently read through a series of interviews conducted by historian/critic Leonard Marcus in Ways of Telling and Show Me a Story.  In the conversations with the artists he aims to explore the link between their life stories and the picture books they created. Ways of Telling, first printed in 2002, was republished 10 years later as Show Me a Story, which includes 10 additional interviews with artists Quentin Blake and Kevin Henkes among others.


I read Ways of Telling first, and the remaining interviews in Show Me a Story second. Perhaps it is only my perception, but I felt the first published interviews, when talking of work, spoke of purpose and artistic conventions; whereas the later trended to a discussion on style.

Sendak’s, Marshall’s, and Zolotow’s conversations were the most informative to me. I appreciated their attention to audience (being a guide to children to help them understand their world), their sensitivity to capturing correct emotional tone, and some of the off-the-cuff tips on illustrative device.

A happy revision was made to the color plates in the second printing; process work was shown instead of final art. It is a rare treat to see behind the scenes of a creative work, and it wedded nicely to Marcus’s goal of threading life and story. I loved seeing James Marshall’s sketches next to his to–do list.

All in all, a fan read for picture book lovers.


List of Artist Interviews:

October 21, 1988 – Iona Opie (age 65)

April 22, 1989 – Mitsumasa Anno (age 63)

May 24, 1989 – James Marshall (age 47)

November 6, 1989 – Helen Oxenbury (age 51)

February 11, 1991 – Robert McCloskey (age 77)

June 14, 1993 – Maurice Sendak (age 65)

July 14, 1994 – William Steig (age 64)

July 28, 1994 – Eric Carle (age 65)

August 27, 1997 – Tana Hoban (age 80)

October 23, 1998 – Charlotte Zolotow (age 83)

September 23, 1999 – Karla Kuskin (age 67)

October 18, 1999 – Rosemary Wells (age 56)

October 27, 1999 – Jerry Pinkney (age 60)

October 30, 1999 – Ashley Bryan (age 76)

Post 1993 – Lois Ehlert (age 59)

July 23, 2009 – Peter Sis (age 60)

July 24, 2009 – Chris Raschka (age 50)

September 18, 2009 – Yumi Heo (age 45)

November 11, 2009 – Quentin Blake (age 77)

November 6, 2009 – Lisbeth Zwerger (age 55)

November 9, 2009 – Vera B. Williams (age 82)

November 25, 2009 -Kevin Henkes (age 49)

December 2, 2009 – Mo Willems (age 41)

December 21, 2009 – John Burningham (age 73)