I’m reading The Wainscott Weasel to my daughter at bedtime. Tor Seidler’s rhythmic storytelling and Fred Marcellino’s graceful illustrations are so totally in tune with each other, it’s worth taking off the shelf if you haven’t read it in a while.
Stellar pacing and expressive illustration, this is a prime example of words and art in perfect harmony.
Published in 1993 by HarperCollins and reissued in 2014, this was the second collaboration for Seidler and Marcellino (A Rat’s Tale, about a
Manhattan rodent, appeared in 1986), and the combination is electric. The story follows love-struck weasels, striped bass, and a predatory osprey all living on the South Fork of Long Island. There are daring acts of heroism, dancing, and dashes of philosophical musings on a weasel’s rightful place in the world. Big concepts, yes, but skillfully and simply articulated for young readers. Up and coming children’s book creators would learn much about their craft by reading this book.
Siedler continues to write–Mean Margaret (1997) was named
Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association, and his most recent book, Firstborn, was published in 2015. Marcellino designed book jackets for Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and others before entering and revolutionizing the world of children’s picture book art. He died of colon cancer in July 2001.
@thebrucemuseum Wild Reading: Animals in Children’s Book Art
From the Big Bad Wolf to the Frog Prince and Peter Rabbit, animals have long played central roles in children’s literature. Now the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut is exploring how and why artists highlight certain animal characteristics. Wild Reading: Animals in Children’s Book Art, which opened March 26, includes over thirty illustrations and original artwork by Lynne Cherry, Wendell Minor, Wendy Rasmussen, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, Fred Marcellino, and Brendan Wenzel. Taxidermy specimens from the Bruce’s natural history collection are paired with illustrated counterparts to demonstrate what makes each animal unique, and why artists choose to focus on one feature or another. A surprisingly alert raccoon, for example, is mounted next to a watercolor illustration by Brendan Wenzel, which emphasizes the creature’s large, inquisitive, eyes. A gray wolf, groundhog, chipmunks, three black bears, and other stuffed creatures offer plenty of opportunities to explore a range of artistic styles–Wendell Minor’s keen observation of animals in natural habitats contrasts nicely with Scott Nash’s swashbuckling, whimsical pirate, Captain Blue Jay. No matter the method, each illustrator engages children in the story at hand. The whole ensemble delightfully combines art and science.
Wild Reading: Animals in Children’s Book Art runs from March 26 through July 3, 2016 at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT. Visit the museum website for hours of operation and special activity days.