One of my favorite stories from the children’s book world is the one about the author and illustrator Don Freeman who moved to New York City (from California) to study art and play the trumpet. In one of those strange twists of fate, Freeman left his trumpet behind on a subway train ending his musical career. After that, he decided to focus exclusively on his career as an artist. If Freeman had not lost his trumpet, I wonder if we would ever know Corduroy or Norman the Doorman! Now there are more than a million copies of Freeman’s books in print, and generations of children who can tell you about the bear who was missing a button on his green overalls.
At the time of Freeman’s death in 1978, he had an unfinished story about a squirrel in Washington, D.C. Freeman’s son, Roy, has rescued and completed One More Acorn which was published this fall. It’s always a joy to see something “new” by a favorite illustrator when there was no expectation of anything else. What I love most about this book is the Washington D.C. setting. The story takes place in the fall, and the double page spread showing the Lincoln Memorial surrounded by orange trees is spectacular. Freeman knew he had something. In a letter he wrote about the book in 1963 he wrote: “I do think it can be the most beautiful book yet.” I think he may have been right.