Miss Rumphius and her later books were created in color using acrylic paint and Prismacolor pencils, but some of her earlier works were done in black and white. On a recent trip to our public library's children's classics section, I discovered one of her earlier books, a 1949 compilation of stories and poems compiled by the Child Association of America, called "Read Me Another Story." This book is filled with charming scratchboard illustrations that give us a glimpse into Cooney's style from the first decade of her illustration career.
Here is how Cooney described the beginnings of her career: "In the beginning I worked in black and white, that being the most economical for the publisher. I yearned for color. 'But,' said my editor, 'you have no color sense.' Still yearning for color, I accepted the discouraging pronouncement. Eventually a little color was allowed - sometimes two colors, sometimes three. But each color had to be painted on a separate sheet of paper. These were called 'overlays.' One art director hoped to convince me that working with these separations was 'the purest form of illustration.' But I found it tedious."
Looking at these beautiful black and white illustrations from "Read Me Another Story," I don't think that the addition of color would add anything to their charm.