2018-05-04 21:09:35 UTC
Author and illustrator Anne Rockwell, celebrated for her many informational picture books for very young children, died of natural causes on April 10 in Stamford, Conn., during a brief hospital stay. She was 85.
Anne Rockwell was born on February 8, 1934 in Memphis, Tenn., to Francis Howard and Hazel Edmunds Howard. She was later adopted by Emerson and Sabina Foote. In her autobiographical essay for Something About the Author, Rockwell recalled very early memories of her birth parents’ encouragement of her development as an artist and her passion for classic works of early Italian Renaissance and Egyptian art. After winning an art contest at age five with a painting of Cleopatra floating down the Nile River, Rockwell wrote, “This early success convinced me that I would be a professional artist one day.”
She enjoyed school and said that she doesn’t remember when she learned to read, but “it seems as though I have always known how.” She adored the children’s books handed down to her by her birth mother, fairy tale collections, and the various volumes shared in her elementary school classrooms. And when there were no children’s books available, she voraciously read reference books—including the dictionary and encyclopedia—as well as works by Shakespeare and Louisa May Alcott. During these formative years, Rockwell said she also enjoyed making up stories and experimenting with oil paints she had received as a gift from her father...
(birthday post from 2014)
I first encountered her work from her second book, from 1966: "Gypsy Girl's Best Shoes." It's charmingly done, and is probably the only English-language book for preschoolers with such a main character. (Especially before 1980 or so.)
"No one seems to have time to watch Maggi dance in her pretty red shoes. So she finds her own space and draws a grateful crowd."
(pictures from that book)
Only trouble is, twice in the story, strangers address her as "gypsy girl." So, anyone who's old enough to read alone but not old enough to know better probably needs to be told that you don't address people that way, just as you wouldn't address someone as "black girl." (If you're reading aloud to a smaller child, you can just skip over those words, of course.)