48 Hours in New York – and 3 Reasons Why I Love Barbara McClintock’s Pictures…



This past weekend I spent two whole days with my sisters in New York City. Perfect company. Perfect weather. And we saw Matilda, the Broadway musical based on Roald Dahl’s novel!  Since both of my sisters live in Ohio, we don’t get to spend enough time together, but we were grateful for the weekend and had two wonderful days cramming in as many fun things as possible.

One of our stops was at the New York Public Library because neither of my sisters had seen the original Winnie-the-Pooh plush toys that were given to Christopher Robin Milne in the 1920s.  I’ve been lucky to visit the well-loved characters many times so this time I focused exclusively on Piglet. He is truly very small. And there is something calming about his sweet little face.

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Later, walking down the street, we passed a store called Aesop which sells hair and skin care products. I didn’t really care about that, but the store’s ceiling is awesome! Aesop is a partner to The Paris Review, copies of which they sell along with face lotion. I don’t get the connection, but the ceiling is worth checking out…

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As we walked by the Plaza, we made a quick stop inside to see the famous portrait of Eloise by Hilary Knight.  I just read on the Plaza’s website that the original 1957 painting disappeared in 1960 and Knight painted a new one.

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I don’t collect the complete collections of many authors or illustrators, but the illustrator Barbara McClintock is an exception, maybe the only one. I just set up a little display on my kitchen table:

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This picture is missing her most recent book, My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth, but  my copy is at school. I love and admire the work of many illustrators, but McClintock is at the top of my list. Here are three reasons why:

– Her watercolored ink drawings are so detailed that a child can spend hours pouring over all of the little things. If her books were available when I was a child, I would have lost hours in her exquisitely meticulous world.

– Her work is reminiscent of Randolph Caldecott, the British artist for whom the Caldecott Medal is named. Like him, her pictures convey movement and motion and action.

– I want to climb into her pictures. They capture a feeling of an idealized world that doesn’t exist – and probably never did – but it’s as close to a true paradise that I know and sometimes we all need a few minutes in that place.


McClintock’s book (with Beverly Donofrio), Where’s Mommy? was named one of the New York TimesBest Ten Illustrated Books of 2014.  I have that one, but it didn’t make it into my kitchen display!

image-5 If you’re local, please come to the James Library in Norwell on Tuesday, December 2 at 7:00 where I will be talking about all of my favorite children’s books of 2014 – just in time for holiday shopping!


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