Saturday, July 11, 2009
Vintage Rosemary Wells
My mother in law was doing a little attic cleaning and ran across this favorite book from my husband's childhood: Rosemary Wells' Impossible Possum. I'm familiar with Rosemary Wells. I've seen the stout, cute guinea pig-like creatures that populate so many of her books. We're quite fond of her collection of nursery rhymes. But this book is nothing like those.
I recently read in Leonard Marcus' Minders of Make Believe; a very thorough history of childrens book publishing in the U.S., that it used to be common practice for children's book illustrators to be awarded a 1 or 2 color illustration assignments when first starting out. It was the publisher's way of testing the popularity of new talent with a less expensive print run. I think some of the most beautiful children's books are a result of these spare palettes. Rosemary Wells' use of line and texture is just amazing. The simple black and red color scheme calls to mind my son's favorite children's book: Virginia Lee Burton's Choo Choo, also entirely red and black. I'm so glad this book has made it's way out out of the attic and onto our shelves.