Did you know that some of the most famous, and most loved, children’s authors live in Connecticut? I know that when I sat down determined to find out if any of my favorite authors are, or were, local I was amazed at the caliber of wonderful children’s books that were written right here in Connecticut. Here is a sampling of my favorite picturebook authors that I discovered to be own state treasures.
Mercer Mayer is the writer and illustrator for Little Critter First Readers, as well as Little Critter Spectrum. He began writing and illustrating children’s books in 1966 and has published over 300 titles. He also happens to live in Roxbury Connecticut. I loved the Little Critter books growing up, and now I get to share that love with my children with books like Just for You, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet and Just Go to Bed.
Anne Rockwell lives in Old Greenwich Connecticut. You might recognize her name from many picturebooks that are family and library favorites. Many of Anne’s early works were illustrated by her husband Harlow Rockwell. After his death in 1988, their daughter Lizzy stepped up and illustrated many of her books. Apples and Pumpkins, Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train, and The First Snowfall are some of my favorites.
Nancy Elizabeth Wallace grew up in Rowayton Connecticut, and now lives in Branford Connecticut. She writes and illustrates her picturebooks with cut paper art style images. Nancy often does research at the library for her science based books. She also collects what she is writing about, so that she can see and touch them in order to spark wonder, curiosity, questions, and better understanding. Stars! Stars! Stars!, Baby Day!, Pumpkin Day!, and Count Down to Clean Up! are some of her books that I remember most.
Unfortunately, one of my favorite children’s author that was born and raised in Meriden Connecticut has since moved up to New Hampshire, Tomie De Paola. He is best known for his Strega Nona books and unique illustration style. Tomie dePaola has written (and/or illustrated) over 200 books for children. He and his work has received the Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, and the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. My children and I love the books about Strega Nona, Big Anthony, and Bill and Pete books.
Sadly, last year an amazing Connecticut resident, that also happened to be renowned children’s authors and illustrator, passed away. Maurice Sendak, passed away in May of 2012. This Ridgefield Connecticut resident wrote over twenty books, and illustrated more than four times that many. Most connect his name with Where the Wild Things Are, but I fondly remember Chicken Soup with Rice and his illustrations in Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear books as well.
There are several phenomenal authors of adult books, young adult books, and children’s chapter books here in our little state as well. I will be sharing some information and favorite books from those Connecticut residents in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.