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Booktalking "Pass It Down" by Leonard Marcus


Picture books run in the family... sometimes. This is the story of five families in which the talent for illustration and text has passed through the generations.

First, Donald Crews and daughter Nina Crews are considered in this book. At first, Donald was clueless about which career to pursue. When an editor agreed to publish We Read: A to Z, he thought it was a fluke. Not so when the same editor readily also agreed to publish a second book. Donald's daughter Nina showed an interest in painting early on, and later she used photography to create One Hot Summer Day.

For the Hurd family, drawing and writing was a family affair. This family did not have much money, but they loved their craft. Clement Hurd and Edith Thatcher Hurd were friends with Margaret Wise Brown ("Brownie"). As an editor, Brownie published some of Edith Thatcher Hurd's books. Son (John) Thatcher Hurd also ended up writing and illustrating children's books. 

I am a big fan of Walter Dean Myers, so I was pleased to read about how his work influenced his son, Christopher. Walter is an excellent author, and he took his son to the library to help him do research for his books. Chris illustrated Shadow of a Red Moon and Harlem for his father. At nine years old, Christopher Myers was spending two hours a day drawing.

Jerry Pinkney encouraged his son Brian to pursue artwork. (Jerry) Brian Pinkney struggled to differentiate himself from his father.

Anne Rockwell was shopping for books for her first daughter, Hannah, when she became captivated by the art in kids' picture books. She viewed books differently when reading them to her kids. Lizzy Rockwell loved drawing but did not pursue it as a career until her father asked if she would become an illustrator. At the end of her father Harlow's life, she took over the illustration on My Spring Robin, which Harlow was not able to finish.

Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark by Leonard Marcus, 2007

In some cases, the parents help their kids learn the trade of picture books. They also sometimes pass down work to their progeny. When someone asks them to illustrate a piece; they may say that they know someone who may be able to do it, and they recommend their children for the job. In most cases, the parent is more well-known then the children who follow in their footsteps. Perhaps they were riding on the coattails of their parents. However, the illustrators' whose work I viewed in the book appear to be quite talented.

I like the cover art, consisting of pencils, paintbrushes, compass, eraser, scissors, pens, etc. atop a stack of books named for the picture book families that are depicted in the book. 


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