I Can Fly
Life has been really hectic lately (cue the violins). For the last two months, I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Some times I wonder why I put up with the craziness of this industry. Breaking into the children’s book market requires a shiitake (mushrooms) load of blood, sweat and tears. Exhaustion can really bring down the spirit. Yesterday was a tough one and by the end of the day, I needed retail therapy. Nothing refocuses my priorities in life more than spending an hour in the children’s section of a bookstore. Surrounded and immersed in a collection of books that holds all the aspirations and dreams of writers and illustrators, I feel them providing me with hope and inspiration. Keep reading…
This week’s book reminds us to take time out of our hectic schedule and play. I Can Fly, written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Mary Blair, is a Little Golden Book Classic, which won numerous awards when it was first published in 1951. Its charming, rhyming verses capture a little girl’s imagination as she imitates the animals around her: “A bird can fly. So can I.” Krauss’s choices to use simple language make for a perfect story to read out loud and interact with audience: “A cow can moo. Can you?”
Blair’s illustrations are adorable and I just want to gobble them up. Mary Blair is one of my favorite illustrators of all times. She was adventurous with her use of colour, perhaps due to her preference for tinted glasses and coloured contact lenses, which had to have altered the way she saw the world. Her signature bold and bright colour designs will captivate little readers. Though Blair has illustrated several books, she is more known for her animation work, as she spent more then a dozen years at Disney. I believe animators makes strong illustrators because they are trained in the art of storytelling. They have an amazing ability to capture emotions through facial expressions and body language and to design characters with such personality and flare. The little girl in the story exudes cheekiness and confidence, and is as cute as a button with her big round eyes.
I Can Fly, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author Ruth Krauss
(July 25th, 1901 to July 10th, 1993)
Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 25th, 1901, Ruth Krauss grew up playing the piano and violin. Krauss constantly drew, read and wrote as a child, which explains the decisions she made regarding her studies, as she grew older. She graduate from Parson School of Design in New York City with a Bachelors of Arts, and then went on to study art and music at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore. She also studied poetry at the New School of Social Research in New York and at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore. Krauss also studied anthropology at Columbia University. She was married to children’s book author Crockett Johnson until her passing on July 10th, 1993.
Illustrator Mary Blair
(October 21st, 1911 to July 26th, 1978)
Mary Blair was the first woman to be honor as a Disney Legend in 1991. Joining Disney in 1940, she worked on feature films like Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan. In her time at Disney, her work had great influence on advertising, books, décor, films and theme parks (she was the designer on “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland).
Born on October 21st, 1911, in McAlester Oklahoma, Blair’s talent was recognized early in her career with a scholarship to the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Upon graduation, she entered the animation industry, working for several studios before joining Disney Studios. Walt Disney was a huge champion of Blair’s work and in 1941, he invited her to join the Disney expedition to South America; for three months, she painted and captured the spirit of Latin America. Even after her passing on July 26th, 1978, Mary Blair’s work remains both influential and inspirational to many artists and illustrators working today.
Publisher Golden Books (August 27, 1999)