During the First World War, Hugh Lofting‘s children at home in England asked him to illustrate the letters he sent them. His experiences with wounded horses at the Casualty Clearing Station in France led him to visualize a fictional doctor who would learn to speak the animals’ languages…from these beginnings came the ever-popular Doctor Dolittle series. Lofting’s nine books about the friendly doctor who “talked to the animals” have been favorites ever since, and by 1934 had themselves been translated into twelve languages.
Pamela (P. L.) Travers was born in Australia in 1906. While living in Sussex, England, she first began to write while recovering from an illness. Mary Poppins was the result, and the magical governess who “blew in on an east wind” was an instant success. Mary Shepard did the charming illustrations for this and the later books. Travers would go on to write three sequels to the first book, and Walt Disney’s film version starring Oscar-winning Julie Andrews increased Poppins’ worldwide popularity. In a 1934 interview, Ms. Travers said, “If you are looking for autobiographical facts, Mary Poppins is the story of my life.”
Boston-born artist/illustrator Tasha Tudor is famed for her delightful illustrations for many children’s books including a few of her own. Married to Thomas McCready, Jr., the couple moved to New Hampshire with their three children in the 1930s and enjoyed the old-fashioned farm ways and holidays that give an added charm to the artist’s work.
Tasha Tudor Fairy Tales
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Stephen W. Meader
The author of a series of boys’ historical adventure books, Stephen W. Meader was born in Providence, RI, in 1892. His first book, The Black Buccaneer, was based on a manuscript about the Carolina coastal pirates. Lumberjack and Red Horse Hill grew out of the author’s boyhood experiences in New England. All his books are filled with fast-moving action and have accurate historical backgrounds; they have enjoyed widespread popularity and are very collectable.
Red Horse Hill
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in the Little House in the Big Woods of Wisconsin on February 7, 1867. Her family traveled in a prairie schooner across Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, where they lived in the Little House on the Prairie. Wilder’s childhood was relived in her “Little House” series of books for young people and have delighted two generations so far, with no end to their popularity in sight. Garth Williams’ charming black and white illustrations capture the early pioneer days in this autobiographical series.
Little House on the Prairie
Tags: Add new tag, boys' books, Garth Williams, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, Stephen W. Meader
Marguerite Henry’s first horse story was Justin Morgan Had a Horse; her 1949 best-seller, King of the Wind, won the Newbery Medal.
All of her horse stories are fact-based fiction; one of the most popular series began with Misty of Chincoteague, a real pony. Gifted artist Wesley Dennis created the beautiful illustrations for Henry’s books.
Five O'Clock Charlie
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
C. W. Anderson
C. W. Anderson wrote and illustrated more than a dozen books for children, mostly dealing with horses. Billy and Blaze was the first title in a series about a young boy and his horse; the author’s beautiful pencil and charcoal illustrations make all his works especially collectable. A friend of the author’s gave him a fine thoroughbred horse named Bobcat that served him as a model for many years.
One of the best animal artists was Paul Brown, whose easily-recognizable strong black-and-white line made his work highly desirable when it came to illustrating horse and dog stories. An author also, Brown wrote several children’s books including Merry Legs; Piper’s Pony; Pony Farm, etc.
Will James was born in Montana in 1892 and virtually grew up on the range. Orphaned at an early age, James was adopted by a French Canadian trapper who taught him to read and write; he never received any formal schooling. However, the boy had a natural gift for drawing and eventually sold some of his work to magazines. His real fame came after the publication of his semi-autobiographical book, Smoky, the Cow-Horse in 1926. He went on to write several other books based on his experiences, and his vivid illustrations capture all the flavor of the old West.
Tags: Add new tag, C. W. Anderson, Horses, Justin Morgan, King of the Wind, Lone Cowboy, Marguerite Henry, Misty, Paul Brown, Smoky the Cow Horse, Wesley Dennis, Will James