An illustrated talk, focusing on Johnson and Krauss in the 1950s, the period in which they reinvent the modern picture book, and the FBI places them under surveillance. Working with legendary Harper editor Ursula Nordstrom, Johnson publishes Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955), and Krauss begins her decade-long collaboration with Maurice Sendak, creating the groundbreaking A Hole Is to Dig (1952), A Very Special House (1953) and six others. And FBI builds a file on Johnson, opening his mail, monitoring his bank account, and noting the names of people who visited or phoned. Drawing from the biography (forthcoming September 2012) that shares its title with this talk, Nel offers a story of art, publishing, politics, and the power of the imagination.
is Professor of English and Director of Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature. His most recent books are Keywords for Children’s Literature
(co-edited with Lissa Paul, 2011) Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature
(co-edited with Julia Mickenberg, 2008), The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats
(2007), Dr. Seuss: American Icon
(2004). Forthcoming, fall 2012: a double biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, and The Complete Barnaby, Vol. 1
(co-edited with Eric Reynolds), which collects the first two years of Crockett Johnson’s influential comic strip. He also blogs
. And tweets