Leo Lionni. “A Tried and True Author” LIS 60629: Summer 2009 Beth Brendle. Leo Lionni: Biography. Personal Information Born in Amsterdam, Holland, on May 5, 1910 No formal art education Practiced drawing at the Rijksmuseum Doctorate in Economics from the Un. of Genoa
“A Tried and True Author”
LIS 60629: Summer 2009
Born in Amsterdam, Holland, on May 5, 1910
No formal art education
Practiced drawing at the Rijksmuseum
Doctorate in Economics from the Un. of Genoa
Married Nora Maffi in 1931
Had two sons: Louis and Paolo
Emigrated to US in 1939
Traveled extensively between the US and Europe
Settled in Italy at age 50
Wrote Parallel Botany in 1977
Wrote his autobiography, Between Two Worlds, in 1997
Died in Tuscany, Italy, on October 11,1999, at age 89
Writer, Teacher, Sculptor, Artist, Designer
catalog, Museum of Modern Art
“A technique of filling the picture area with large, simple shapes
without overwhelming or cluttering it is a Lionni trademark, as is his use of white backgrounds, cropping, and carefully informal arrangement of objects within the picture plane.” (Potts)
“I have the feeling that if you are very thorough
and put love and care into a thing
it will come out well somehow.”
Lionni was fascinated by nature;
his books depict natural worlds filled with animal characters, flora and fauna, and a variety of rocks, stones, and shells.
Lionni had a terrarium as a child; in it he kept stones, shells, frogs, and
salamanders. He created a little world for his creatures.
The influence of nature can be seen in his children’s books as well as in his drawings, sculpture, and writings.
“The relationship between nature and man
is at the core of his work.” (Sundell)
Caldecott Honor Books
Inch by Inch 1961
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse 1970
American Institute of
Gold Medal, 1984
“First presented in 1949, the Christopher Awards were established by Christopher founder Father James Keller to salute media that ‘affirm the highest values of the human spirit.’ Their goal is to encourage men, women and children to pursue excellence in creative arenas that have the potential to influence a mass audience positively. Award winners encourage audiences to see the better side of human nature and motivate artists and the general public to use their best instincts on behalf of others. “
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
This award is given by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic and UNESCO. It recognizes the best children’s illustrations worldwide. The main winners have their artwork put on stamps. (http://www.bibiana.sk/bib_en.html)
Swimmy was the first picture book by an
American illustrator to win.
Leo Lionni’s first children’s book was created in 1959
in an attempt to entertain his grandchildren
during a train ride.
“To entertain them, he tore little bits of colored papers from Life magazine and made a magical story. Lionni returned home, he placed what he'd done into a book dummy. Fabio Coen, who had just become children's book editor of Obolensky Inc., published it as ‘Little Blue and Little Yellow,’ and Lionni became a picture book author.” (AIGA)
Style: The simple torn paper collage was innovative in 1959.
Themes: This story teaches children not
to judge by appearance. It also makes kids
think about individuality vs. conformity.
This book is often used by art teachers
to teach color combining.
PLOT: A clever inch worm saves himself by measuring his predators’ necks, tails, and legs. When the nightingale asks him to measure his song, the inch worm keeps measuring until he is out of harm’s way.
ART: “Illustrated in richly textured collage and crayon against a white background, Inch by Inch combines lavish surface texture with careful page layout and dramatic design.” (Potts)
THEME: This book teaches children to be clever problem-solvers.
PLOT: Frederick’s family prepares for the winter by
collecting food while Frederick collects sun rays,
colors, and words. After all the supplies run out in the harsh winter, Frederick nourishes his family with an artist’s gifts: stories, colors, and emotions.
ART: The collage illustrations are in soft browns and grays. The mice are made of torn-paper and are set “against the clean edges and textures of the background.” (Potts)
THEMES: This book teaches children that the artist is an important part of society.
Lionni’s first mouse-hero
“Frederick’s story is one of the progression from feelings
to images and finally to words . . . .” (Potts)
PLOT: Like the inch worm, Swimmy must be clever in order to survive. He organizes a school of small fish into a group resembling a large fish so that predators will stay away.
ART: “Swimmy’s undersea world is composed of highly textured watercolor washes and prints that create an impressionistic underwater locale.” (Potts)
THEMES:This book teaches children to be resourceful, to be leaders,
and to never give up. It also teaches that there is safety in numbers.
PLOT: Alexander is a lonely mouse who befriends a mechanical mouse, Willy. Alexander is jealous of Willy because the children love their toy, while Alexander is despised. He wants to be a toy too until he finds a broken and discarded Willy. With the help of a magic lizard, Willy becomes a real mouse.
ART: “brightly colored, bold designs set against black and white backgrounds. . . spectacular.
. . . a flat, posterlike effect” (Potts).
THEMES: The story teaches children not to be envious of others, to appreciate themselves, and to believe in the power of love and friendship.
Agree, Rose H. “We Meet Leo Lionni.” Top of the News 19 (Oct 1962): 65-67.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. “A Mind Full of Frogs, Mice and Snails Grow Riper.” New York Times 4 Sept. 1997.
Cahn, Annabelle Simon. “Leo Lionni, Artist and Philosopher.” Children’s
Literature 2 (1973): 123-129. Project Muse. John Hopkins
University Press 2009. 12 July 2009. [OhioLink]
Coen, Fabio. “Leo Lionni.” Library Journal 89 (15 March 1964): 100.
Cullinan, Bernice E., and Diane Goetz Person, ed. “Lionni, Leo.” The
Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Continuum
International Publishing Group, 2003. 12 July 2009.
Evans, Dily. “Leo Lionni.” Book Links (Mar 1995): 4. 4.
McCall, Bruce. “An Old-Fashioned Modernist: Between Two Worlds: The
Autobiography of Leo Lionni.” New York Times Book Reviews. 18 May 1997. 13.
McCann, Donnarae, and Olga Richard. The Child’s First
Books: A Critical Study of Pictures and Texts. New York: Wilson,
1973. 58 -59.
McQuade, Molly. “The Year of Leo Lionni.” Book Links (May 1998): 7. 5.
“Medalists.” AIGA (The American Institute of Graphic Artists). 1984
5 July 2009. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/medalist-leolionni
Paley, Vivian Gusin. “The Mouse that Roared.” School Library Journal
(Jan 2000): 46 – 49. [EBSCO] 2003. 5 July 2009.
Potts, Lesley S. “Leo(nard) Lionni.” American Writers for Children Since
1960: Poets, Illustrators, and Nonfiction Authors. Ed. Glenn
E. Estes. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol 61. Detroit:
Gale Research, 1987. [Columbus Metropolitan Library] 6 July
2009. http://go.galegroup.com.webproxy- prod.columbuslibrary.org/ps/start.do?p=LitRG&u=cmlweb.
Simon Cahn, Annabelle. "Leo Lionni, Artist and Philosopher." Children's
Literature 2.1 (2009), 123-129.
Sundell, Nina Castelli. “Leo Lionni: Drawings.” Exhibit at Lehman
University 1990. 13 July 2009. http://www.lehman.edu/vpadvance/artgallery/gallery/leo lionni/lionni sundell essay.html
Lionni, Leo. “Before Images.” Horn Book 60 (Nov/Dec 1984): 727-734.
Lionni, Leo. “My Books for Children.” Wilson Library Bulletin 39 (October