February 15, 2019

"The Big Book of Nursery Tales" retold by Evelyn Andreas, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard (1954)

LEONARD WEISGARD (1916-2000), Caldecott award-winning illustrator of more than 200 children’s books was perhaps best known for his collaboration with the author Margaret Wise Brown. Weisgard was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and spent most of his childhood in England. He studied art at the Pratt Institute and the New School for Social Research, where he was influenced by primitive cave paintings, Gothic and Renaissance art and avant-garde French illustrators of children’s books of the 1920s. He also studied dance with Martha Graham and worked in the field of window display.
Weisgard began his career making illustrations for magazines such as Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker and Harper’s Bazaar. His first book, Suki the Siamese Pussy, was published in 1937, and his first collaboration with Margaret Wise Brown was two years later, The Noisy Book. He won the 1948 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration, recognizing The Little Island, written by Brown. They collaborated again on The Important Book, published by Harper & Brothers in 1949. Altogether, Weisgard illustrated at least 14 of Brown's books, including two that were published posthumously. (Brown wrote the text for six books that were published as by "Golden MacDonald". All were unpaged picture books illustrated by Weisgard and published by Doubleday.) He also illustrated the 1956 Newbery Medal runner-up The Secret River by Margaret Kinnan Rawlings.
Weisgard used a wide range of colors and media in his books, including gouache, poster paint, crayon, chalk, decoupage, stenciling and pen and ink.
Learn more about the illustrator.