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Three New Picture Books Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon

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:: I am fortunate to call Leo & Diane Dillon friends. I have known them since 1989, and each time I go to New York, I take the F Train to Brooklyn to visit them, over wine and dinner. They are my favorite illustrators, and those who have visited my home know that my walls are covered with their prints and posters, in addition to some of my Dad’s paintings.

My last visit with them was in June 2003, and have been negligent in checking out their latest work. Two new illustrated children’s books have appeared since that time, with a third due in October, 2004. Between Heaven and Earth: Bird Tales from Around the World, is the title due out next month. The author is Howard A Norman, with whom they collaborated previously, on The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese, and Other Tales of the Far North.

Margaret Wise Brown died in 1952, yet her poems and stories continue to reach new generations of children and preschoolers. Leo & Diane previously illustrated her wonderful poem, Two Little Trains. They have collaborated again on Where Have You Been?, a poem that answers a child’s questions about animals and how they live.

Their other recent work is One Winter’s Night, a story by John Herman about a cow named Martha, on a cold winter’s night, searching for a safe and warm place to give birth to her calf. A parallel story is told in “art spots”, about a man, woman and donkey making their way across the same fields, in the middle of the cold winter night. Martha follows a star, that leads her to a shed, where the man, woman and donkey have also sought and found shelter.

Forthcoming, also in October, is Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes, by Susan V Bosak, with illustrations by 15 internationally acclaimed artists, including the Dillons: “A celebration of living and dreaming for all ages, Dream brings together remarkable artwork, inspiring quotations, and a beautifully poetic story.”

Without having seen these books, I can recommend them without hesitation, if you are looking to treat yourself to something special, or for a gift for a special someone else. These titles will be welcome additions to my Dillon collection. If you are interested in more Dillon work, including that of their talented son, Lee, check out Fusion Designs. Fusion Designs sells Lee’s creations, including boxed note cards, posters, jewelry, and magnets. Many of Leo and Diane’s posters are also available.

Leo and Diane Dillon have won two Caldecott Medals, the “Oscar” of illustrated children’s books. The award winning books are Ashanti To Zulu: African Traditions (1977), and Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears: A West African Tale (1976).

Leo and Diane Dillon have illustrated children’s books, book covers, and other works, for over 40 years. The titles they illustrate are always written by other authors. In 2002, this changed, when they wrote and illustrated the marvelous story about Bill Robinson, aka Bojangles. The book is called Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That. With Real Player, you can listen to Leo and Diane talk about and read from Rap A Tap Tap, and how they work as the “third artist”.

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About Randy Reichardt

  • Donald Bradsher

    I am a librarian at Durham County Public Library and I am looking for the poster for Leo and Diane Dillon’s book “In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers.” Can you help me with this?