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I was very lucky to have artist friends to illustrate my books. Nowadays, publishers pick the artists and it mostly works out fine. But I miss the special relationship between artist and author.
Some of the artists who illustrated my books were already my friends; others became friends.
Mort illustrated a few of my earliest books. When MR. SKINNER’S SKINNY HOUSE needed an illustrator, I knew that Mort’s cartoon style would be perfect for my story. And it was! Mort also illustrated a real birthday cake for one of my big birthdays. Now, how many artists do that? Mort’s cartoons were often published in The New Yorker magazine.
When Mort and his wife Judith had a baby girl, Lilia, I became her godmother!
Ezra and I were great friends for many years. He also was a good friend to my son, Peter. He told Peter he named his main character after him. Ezra dedicated his book, WHISTLE FOR WILLIE to me.
Ezra had just won the Caldecott Medal for THE SNOWY DAY and his next project was illustrating my story, ZOO, WHERE ARE YOU?
Nola and I worked on six books together: HALF A KINGDOM, SCRAM, KID!, LITTLE WOLF, and WHO HAS A SECRET? We also collaborated on a book of fairy tales. She did the artwork for the first edition of STONE SOUP.
We met in 3rd grade and played with her puppets. When we were in our twenties, we bumped into each other at a supermarket in Manhattan and we were the closest of friends until her death in 2003. My son, Peter, and I spent many a happy weekend at Nola’s country house in Connecticut with Nola’s five children. Peter still remembers picking and eating the fresh corn he planted in Nola’s fields.
Tomie and I met at a children’s book conference in California where we both were featured speakers. We became instant friends. He was wearing different colored shoes. I had just come back from the island of Tortola in the Caribbean. Tomie’s shoes and a tropical island were the inspiration for my book. NICHOLAS BENTLEY STONNGPOT III was published to great acclaim. Tomie has won so many awards for his books.
Simms and I were telephone and e-mail friends until his death on Christmas Day 2011. The publisher chose Simms to illustrate TOO MUCH NOISE and he did a new cover for the book’s 40th anniversary. TOO MUCH NOISE is now considered a classic for children ages 3-7. Simms once wrote to me to say TOO MUCH NOISE is one of his favorite books and that he’s amazed it’s been in print so long! Simms won the Caldecott Medal for JOSEPH HAD A LITTLE OVERCOAT.
Hope and I met in 1968 and we’re close friends. Her photographs grace two of my books: BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL and FEELING BAD, FEELING MAD, FEELING SAD, FEELING GLAD. Hope and I are also travel buddies. We’ve been to Spain, Berlin, Paris, London, Mexico and Mallorca where we take art workshops. Hope is a noted photographer, collage artist and a writer. Her children are my friends, too.