Anyway, back to the local library sale that I recently attended. At this sale I spent a good deal of time and most of my money on children's books. I found some wonderful picture books from the 1960s and even a couple of much older books from the 1940s. I found two books illustrated by Adrienne Adams, an illustrator who was a two time winner of the Caldecott Honor Award (for "Houses from the Sea," and "The Day We Saw the Sun Come Up.") Adams who was born in 1906, was at the height of her career in the fifties and sixties and was known for her illustrated interpretations of various fairy tales. The two books I found, illustrated in very different styles are "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and "The Mouse Palace," by Frances Carpenter.
In this illustration, Adams has framed the figures with the trees, an arrangement that to me suggests the layout of a stained glass window or an illuminated manuscript.
In this particular book, Adams avoids using close-ups, keeping the viewer at a slight distance from her subjects. Every figure is seen in (to use cinema terminology) medium to long shot, so that their whole body is always on display. Once again, this choice seems to reinforce the illustration's links to medieval tapestries or stained glass windows, a fitting choice for this classic fairy tale.
I have to admit that I have not read "The Mouse Palace," yet, but from glancing at it, I know it takes place in old Siam (Thailand). In the book's forward, the author Frances Carpenter informs us that she was inspired to write the story after visiting Thailand and seeing the little palace that was built to house the pet mice of the king's children. Like the king in Margaret Landon's story "Anna and the King of Siam," and the same character in the musical version "The King and I," the king in this story seems to be the father to many children. I suppose it might even be the same king.
The illustrations in this book are done in what appears to be pencil and colored pencil with some areas of flat color laid in.
I particularly like the mood that Adams has created in this black and white drawing of one of the king's children outside under a full moon.
Finally, here is an illustration of the little mice born at the end of the story. I think Adams has done a wonderful job in this illustration of utilizing the negative space created by the white coats of the baby mice against their somewhat darker background.
Before finding these two delightful books, I wasn't familiar with Adrienne Adams, but I'm happy that I discovered her and I'll definitely be keeping my eye open for some of her other titles the next time I'm at a used book sale.