I’ve loved Barbara McClintock’s rich and detailed illustrations since the first time I saw one of her picture books. I was in graduate school and the book was The Tale of Tricky Fox, one of her many collaborations with writer Jim Aylesworth. I remember looking through that book thinking that it felt old fashioned, in the best sense of the word. McClintock’s illustrations also reminded me of Randolph Caldecott, the 19th century British artist for whom the Caldecott Medal is named. Most of all, I recognized immediately that McClintock was, from that moment, my favorite illustrator. Since that day in 2001, I’ve bought all of her books and looking at them still feels as comforting as eating chicken soup on a cold day.
I’ve spent hours poring over McClintock’s exquisite watercolored ink drawings. As a young child, I loved pictures with lots of details and things to look for. If I had known McClintock’s books then, I have no doubt that I would have treasured them as much as I do now.
McClintock’s books have won 5 New York Times Best Illustrated Books, among many other awards. Her most recent book My Grandfather’s Coat, written by Jim Aylesworth, received multiple starred reviews, was named one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Best Children’s Books of 2014, and was featured in the New York Times Book Review.
The opportunity to have McClintock visit Inly and talk with our students about her work was a dream come true and a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet one of the most talented and respected illustrators working today. Over the summer, Inly’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students selected books written or illustrated by McClintock, and last Wednesday they got to hear Barbara talk about her work.
As you can see, Barbara’s presentation was particularly inspiring to one of our first grade students. After meeting Barbara, she copied one of her drawings – quite impressively!
Following her three classroom presentations, Barbara graciously agreed to spend some time talking with me, and while we sat in Buttonwood Books and Toys (a perfect place to meet!), I wanted to pinch myself. It was truly a dream come true!
Of course, what I most wanted to know was what new books her fans can look forward to, and happily, there are two books scheduled for 2016:
- Emma and Julia Love Ballet will be published by Scholastic in Spring 2016. The story of two ballerinas, one a professional and one a young student, follows a day in the life of both dancers.
- A new Adele & Simon book will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in Fall 2016. This time Adele and Simon’s adventures take place in China. The most rewarding part of this project, Barbara said, was the opportunity to work closely with her son who has his PhD in Chinese cultural studies.
I also asked Barbara to name some illustrators whose work she admires. I wasn’t surprised by her response: Peter Sis, Brian Floca, Marla Frazee, and Brian Selznick, among others.
It was a happy day for Inly’s students – and for me!