Ann’s Cottage Blog

Author Ann McAllister Clark - muses about books, authors and St. Augustine, Florida

Eloise Wilken – author, illustrator and designer

Eloise Wilkin, author, illustrator and doll designer

By Ann McAllister Clark

Back during the Gulf War it was said that folks were sitting down to watch the children’s television show, Mr. Roberts’ Neighborhood, with their children. It was comforting to watch a placid program that could be counted on to just give calm, soothing sounds, sights and welcoming words and simple ideas of family and friendship.

Now, after all these years we are still inundated with our ‘way-of-the-world’ news. Sometimes it is just too much to take in and process. We have to turn off the TV news. You are lucky if you have a child close by in your life. Pick up a Little Golden Book and give yourself and the child a rest from the chaos of the world.000_ioba-newsletter-boywithdrum-10-02 And if you don’t have a little one around go ahead anyway and look through some of the most wonderful stories and illustrations of childhood.

Illustrators like Garth Williams of the Little House on The Prairie books wrote and illustrated for Little Golden Books, as did hundreds of others. Richard Scarry, Gustaf Tenggren and many more contributed to the essence of these little books.

I thought of these books when I wrote the Civil War Saber chapter in my book Morgan’s Redemption  of the girl students listening to Lil’ Mary’s stories while they ate their lunch under the big tree out in the school yard. Of course they did not have these happy little books in the 1800’s so their imagination was needed to entertain their listeners.  And Lil’ Mary had a head full of imagination developed with the stories of her mother and grandmother.   https://www.amazon.com/dp/1495803023/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

One of my favorites was The Taxi That Hurried, written just a year after WWII when people again wanted peace in their lives. It is a cheery little book about a taxi in a busy city. But, then I did love my brother’s copy of The Animals of Farmer Jones with the cows and the chickens and the ducks. The last page was ripped out but I didn’t care.

Steve Santi, has written several definitive collector’s identifications and value guides on the Little Golden Books. I have the 1989 issue that has The Poky Little Puppy on the cover. There have been several new editions since. His web site is a delight and well worth your visit. http://www.thesantis.com/home.htm

Now as an adult, I realize the importance of these books in our lives. And I seem to think of the books several times lately. I turn off the television and forgo reading the headlines. I look through Santi’s book and remember. I remember my mother reading about The New Baby, and Good Morning, Good Night illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. I wanted to find out more about this woman who wrote and illustrated more than 100 books in her lifetime.003_ioba-newsletter-prayerschildren

As popular illustrator Tasha Tudor did, Eloise Wilkin spread her creative talents into other venues. She designed a baby doll for Vogue Dolls that has been listed as one of their most favored dolls. It has the same characteristics that her book children have; rounded cheeks, bright eyes filled with trust and wonderment. I saw one of these dolls on E-bay –  the Baby Dear doll  was listed for a fair price to go along with a copy of the So Big book.

wilkinbookpictureThe books command prices from ten to several hundred dollars in very good condition. The Eloise Wilkin Treasury; a delightful book filled with the artists’ cherubic faces and sweet stories, favorite nursery rhymes, prayers, and poems is currently at $60.00 to $75.00.

What kind of a woman wrote and illustrated these famous old stories still popular and important in the book collector world today?

Born in Rochester, New York in 1904, Eloise Burns became an illustrator after graduating from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Little is know of her early life but she was fortunate to have had a mother who seemed to be a free spirit and encouraged her children to enjoy their creative gifts. One fine day she allowed them to draw all over one wall in their house just before redecorating. Imagine the squeals and happy scribbles that day.

After she graduated, Eloise and her friend Joan Esley, another illustrator, moved to New York City where they decided they had a better chance of success in the world of illustration. They would later corroborate on several children’s books.

Eloise Burns became Eloise Burns Wilkin in 1935 after her marriage to Sydney Wilkin and soon began a family of four children. She illustrated over 20 books with her sister Ester, who also married a Wilkin.

In 1943, she was offered a contract with Simon & Schuster in New York. She signed to do four Little Golden books a year staying with Little Golden Books exclusively until 1961, then only occasionally doing a book for them up until the mid-eighties.

On October 4, 1987, at the age of 84, Eloise died of cancer in Brighton, New York, bringing an end to a beautiful and fulfilling career and leaving a legacy of delightful stories and pictures still loved by 21st century children and the folks who read to them. At the time of her death Eloise Wilkin was still illustrating and working on a new doll design.

Beatrix Potter

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Beatrix Potter

 

by Ann McAllister Clark

Wouldn’t you think that it would be easy – EASY to sell Peter Rabbit to publishers?  Well, before he became a household name to any little tykes between the ages of two and twelve he was not an easy sell.

peter-rabbit-illustration

Not until Beatrix Potter, the author and artist who created Peter and all his cohorts was into her thirties did she even think of publishing a book.  All her drawings were collected and stored away only hopping out to pretty up a note to a nephew or a young friend who she thought needed cheering up.  With a little encouragement she finally gathered enough of her artwork to approach publishers with an idea of writing a ‘tale’ for little children.  And can you believe it?  She could not find anyone, not one publisher to print her work.  She had studied biology, anatomy and art all her life.  She created little characters that charmed her young friends and family but she could not charm publishers enough to take a chance on her and Peter Rabbit. So she did what so many other frustrated writers did.  She published the book herself.  On a cold December day in 1901 Beatrix Potter had two hundred and fifty copies printed.  She promptly gave most of the books away. Now that the little rabbit was in book form it wasn’t long before a company in London, Frederick Warne and Company did take notice.

the-tale-of-peter-rabbit-book-cover

Norman Warne, the youngest of the three Warne brothers in the company dealt most frequently with Miss Potter.  She trusted him and to him she took all her ideas and drawings.  He was treated to her proofs before anyone else viewed them.  He made sure that her ideas and creations were carried out to her exact directions. He was the person with whom she discussed her contracts. And he was the one that finally persuaded the Warne firm to publish an edition that was colorized. That edition was The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  At publishing time, October 2, 1902, there were  eight thousand copies that promptly sold out.

Not completely trusting the Warne publishing firm’s leader, Fredrick Warne, Beatrix decided to publish her second book herself.  She wanted her pictures to be accompanied by many of the rhymes she loved so much.  She thought he might cut these and put words to the pictures himself. With the money she had earned with The Tale of Peter Rabbit, she published five hundred copies of The Tailor of Glouster. tailorofglou She distributed these herself and sent one copy to Norman Warne.  Finally, the Warne company saw her vision and published The Tailor of Glouester in time for Christmas, 1903.  Two months later a third title was published, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. As their relationship developed, Beatrix and Norman found themselves admiring eachother and seeking out eachother’s company.  The couple soon fell in love and 1905 became engaged.  But love was not to stay in Beatrix’s life for long.  Several months after they became engaged, Norman died suddenly.

peter-and-his-friends

Beatrix used her earnings from the ‘little books’ to leave her over powering parents and and unhappy loss to purchase a small farm, Hill Top in the northwest area of England. beatrix-potter-critters Her love of sheep and breeding filled her life with farming. She again found love in her solicitor, William Heelis who shared her love of the Hill Top farm and farming.  They would enjoy a long and happy thirty years of marriage.

When Beatrix Potter moved to the country and began farming she painted exquisite watercolors for her books.  Most of these books depict the surrounding north-country farming life. But by the age of fifty-six Potter’s creative period was nearly over and she devoted her time to sheep farming.  Over the years she became well known as a breeder of Herdwick sheep. She purchased several more farms over the years until at the time of her death on December 22, 1943 she was a substantial landowner.

Sister Anne was the last of Potter’s books to be printed during her lifetime. Two more titles, Wag-by Wag and The Tale of the Faithful Dove were printed posthumously.

 

squirrel-nutkin

In their resource guide on Beatrix Potter, Sayre G. Turney, Michelle Frisque, Beth Kean and Elizabeth T. Mahoney explore the life and publishing career of Miss Potter.  Their site can be found at: http://yorktown.library.pitt.edu/libraries/is/enroom/illustrators/potter.htm It is a through site with color pictures, bibliography, biography, works by  Miss Potter and examples of her journal.

 

Writers Wisdom

“Keep away from people who

belittle your ambitions.

Small people always do that,

but the really great make you feel

that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

 

Why I Write Fiction

I write fiction because I am fascinated by the human spirit and how it ebbs and flows, twists and turns over a lifetime. I see so many social circumstances  I want to explore and have always found it freeing to explore these conditions in fiction. I see writing fiction as a delightful part of my future.

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Facing Up To Facebook

Today I published my first Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Ann-McAllister-Clark-781121261996334/?fref=ts

It took me several starts and stops but I think it is up. It will take me time to get it where I would like it but its there!  I hope you will visit it.  I have many, many photos on my computer but I am having a time of getting the appropriate photos on the page. I tried it once and two relatives popped up on the banner! I don’t think they would like that. I did get them off and a picture of the St. Augustine Lighthouse up there instead.  I hope working on the Facebook page doesn’t keep me from the fiction writing.

On Wednesdays I am going to publish on the Facebook page WEDNESDAY WRITERS WISDOM and quote cleaver writers quotes.

Both Morgan’s Redemption: the first of the Morgan’s Bridge series and A Bone In Her Teeth: the first of the St. Augustine Mystery series are now available on amazon.com   I don’t yet know how to place the URL for the buy link but I’m learning! Let me try...http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=A+Bone+In+Her+Teeth   Oh I think I did it!   And here is the link to the Morgan’s Redemption book. http://www.amazon.com/Morgans-Redemption-Ann-McAllister-Clark-ebook/dp/B0176N78D0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1446392328&sr=8-3&keywords=Morgan%27s+Redemption

Take time today to dream of something kind and quiet.

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

October 2015 clip-art-books-with-lamp6

Where Writers Get Their Ideas?

It’s magical really. Well, at first it may seem that way. Creative thoughts, words and phrases running through a writer’s mind as she is writing. Sometimes it feels the words are like ribbons spilling out of our fingers, pens, pencils or keypads as if someone or something else is actually gathering them up and pushing them out on the page. When that happens I always send up a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the goddess of verbiage and thoughts. Yes, it is magic and when it happens I take a big breath and stay with it as long as I can.

And then I remember all the studying I have done – many college classes and dozens of writing books over the years. I read classics – Russian, English, and mostly American.

Writers get this question all the time – “Where do your ideas come from?” Ideas come right from a compilation of life and the writer’s experiences – encounters and events or things she has witnessed or researched. Writers have a way of filling up their internal and invisible sponge with all that moves before their eyes and ears and all the minutia of life. A writer is voraciously curious and thirsty for interest. A bit of this person, a little of that person, saved notes of conversation and pieces of experience all go into the vault of ideas. So ideas come from just about anywhere and go into the big soup pot of a rich mix. And then at the end of this wash of creativity comes the real work. Revision, revision and then more revision. The work never seems completely right and some writers may revise a dozen times or more.

I watched much of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Florida. I suspect many writers watch court cases on TV or better yet in their own county courtrooms with thoughts of incorporating what they see into their stories. We have files of interesting newspaper clips and magazine articles to be used at a later date for inspiration or research. I took notes on the attributes of the detectives, lawyers and court proceedings during the trial in Sanford. I used those notes to describe the detectives in A Bone In Her Teeth: A St. Augustine Mystery.

Traveling through the streets of Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and Antitam and walking many battlefields helped me immensly with description in my historical novel, The Chrysalis: An American Family Endures The Civil War.

I just finished reading Justice Sonia Sotomayr’s memoir, My Beloved World. When she was a young girl of about eight years old, she faithfully watched the weekly television program, Perry Mason and decided she wanted to be a lawyer! And then she diligently pursued that direction in every single aspect of her educational life all the way to her seat on the United States Supreme Court. I used her early years for inspiration in Morgan’s Redemption

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Sotomayor

Where do we get our ideas for writing? Everywhere and anywhere.

St. Augustine Tides

from A Bone In Her Teeth, chapter one…
When an evening Atlantic high tide seeks the many inlets of St. Augustine, Florida it washes a slow undulating torrent of briny water up into the San Sebastian River and turns the backwater marshes deep and dark with eons-old mysteries. Six hours later at ebb tide the waters flow back into the ocean leaving behind ponds and pockets rich with the salty evolution of plants and animals. The vegetation, mollusks, silt, and sea creatures nearly glow yet hide all their murky secrets and life-forcing activities. Then, a stillness – a waiting for the return of the voyager, the sailor back from the sea – until the quickening of flood tide, sea breezes and the pull of the Earth’s moon cause the whole cycle to happen again.

St. Augustine Record Newspaper: A Bone In Her Teeth book review

By ANNE C. HEYMEN

A Bone In Her Teeth
By Ann McAllister Clark; Infinity: $16.95.
Anna Wells, who grew up in Michigan, finds herself suddenly in St. Augustine the owner of what she thought was the home of a dear aunt. Instead she finds she’s inherited a 1956 outfitted barge moored at Safety Harbor Marina.
Life looks pretty grim for the widow who, with her husband, once owned a bookstore in Michigan. But eventually caught up in the unusual family of boaters at the Safety Harbor Marina and hired by the dear man who owns Thoberry’s Bookshop in historic St. Augustine
Anna finds her life taking twists and turns she never expected — including romance and murder. Along the way, Anna meets some fascinating and some frightening individuals.
As author Clark explains, “A Bone In Her Teeth” is a “nautical term for a vessel with a prominent white wave at her bow as she’s well under way.” And the author also notes that this book in “the first in a series of the charm and mysteries of St. Augustine, Florida.” Clark’s first book is fast paced, weaves an intriguing tale of murder and for residents of St. Augustine provides further challenges as the reader tries to figure out just where the marina is located, especially in regard to the bookstore at which Anna finds a position.
And there are “fun” characters woven through “Bone,” like the Crumb Sisters, who operate a sightseeing carriage and call the marina home; and others who show Anna how to adapt to life on a boat “home.”
You’ll find “Bone” a fun read, especially great for the winter nights which have descended now upon the ancient city. Snuggle up to a roaring fire and become immersed in Anna’s new life in the oldest city. You’ll find Clark’s book a quick, fun read.

Book signing

November 15, 2011

Many book lovers came to my book signing for A Bone In Her Teeth, a St. Augustine, Florida mystery.  The Wolf’s Head Bookstore in St. Augustine hosted and it was a success for them too!   We scheduled it during the Uptown Saturday Nights event that is held on the last Saturday of each month.   So the streets were filled with folks wandering around the antiques shops, art gallerys and gift shops.  It was a fine time!

Please visit my website: annmcallisterclark.com to see the cover designed by John Potter of escapekeygraphics.com.  He is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 Thank you for visiting.

Ann