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Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham (edition 2012)

by Lawrence Webster

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3016367,255 (4.75)11
Member:Kellswitch
Title:Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham
Authors:Lawrence Webster
Info:WoodstockArts (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Early Review Book, books about books, Art

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Under the North Light: The Life and Work of Maud and Miska Petersham by Lawrence Webster

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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was delighted to receive an Early Reviewer copy of this beautiful coffee-table book. I was already familiar with Maud and Miska Petersham's work, from when my eldest son was a small child and we were reading all the Caldecott Medal honoree picture books together.

Besides being an interesting biography of a husband-and-wife team of children's book illustrators, this book also lovingly captures the artist-colony culture of 1920's-1940's Woodstock, NY, and makes you wish you'd been a part of it. ( )
  runeshower | Apr 11, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The names of Maud and Miska Petersham (1889-1971 and 1888-1960, respectively) are well known in the history of American books for children. Under the North Light chronicles the milestones of their lives, describes their artistic techniques, and highlights their major works. It is something of a Valentine of a book, attractively designed and brimming with the Petershams' charming, brilliantly colored illustrations.

The Petershams embodied two stereotypical American characters: he, "the impoverished immigrant arriving on our shores, quickly carving out an admirably successful life through hard work and skill"; she, a member of "a new American aristocracy based on Mayflower roots, spiritual rigor, a Protestant work ethic, and prestigious education" (page 173). From their very different perspectives, they arrived together at a patriotism that inspired a succession of books that brought American history alive for children.

Best remembered for one of their history-related works, the Caldecott Award-winning The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles, the Petershams also produced illustrated Bible stories (they did not claim to write them!), stories set in distant lands populated by endearing children, informational books about scientific and technological subjects, and, happily inspired by the arrival of grandchildren, books for the very young. Their works were characterized by extensive research, painstakingly detailed pictures enhanced by humorous touches, vibrant color, and respect for their youthful readers, to whom they never condescended.

Written as a labor of love by a librarian who lived near the Petershams in Woodstock, New York, Under the North Light is a lovely book that fittingly memorializes a collaboration that contributed significantly to and helped to advance children's literature during roughly the 1910s through 1950s. Engagingly written, it is a pleasure to read as well as to view. Those who enjoy children's books should not miss it. ( )
  Fjumonvi | Mar 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A beautiful book covering the life and works of Maud and Miska Petersham, of whom I've shamefully never heard of before this! (Their artwork seems very familiar though, and I may have read some of their books when I was small.) Detailing (but not too much) their lives before meeting and, primarily, their lives after marriage, it was such a treat to learn about them. It contains quite a lot of their amazing and colorful artwork, personal notes and letters, and the history of children's book publishing. It would be happy on the shelves of anyone with an interest in children's literature, illustrations, artwork, publishing, or lovers of a good story. I'm so pleased to have won this through the ER program! 4.25 stars ( )
  LauraBrook | Jan 19, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a beautiful book and has been such an enjoyable read. I was familiar with Maud and Miska Petersham through their book An American ABC which I loved. In this biography Lawrence Webster introduces us to so many more, I had no idea. Such beautiful pictures and such a great story of a marriage and life well lived. I have been browsing around my public library and Amazon.com looking for what is still avalable! ( )
  herbofgrace | Jan 19, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Miska and Maude Petersham enhanced Children's books with a cheerful elegance that merged stylized pastoral forms with sophisticated design sense. Lawrence Webster, author, has given the reader, more than glimpse, a careful perusing of an album which captures both biographical and literary telling of their life and work. As their lives as illustrators conjoined with authorship in a growing careers, they united to create fully developed chapter books and eventually worked within the importantly spare and focused picture books for the youngest reader and listener. Whimsically and richly colored, illustrations kept the depth of old World palette with the openness of their new home and uniquely collaborative marriage. As their work and family developed, they "built books" that would remain exemplary , such as The Poppy Seed Cakes (1924) still exciting in vital colors and linear placement. The Caldecott, won in 1946 for The Rooster Crowed, ensured their historical relevance, but Webster thoughtfully conveys what design lovers, book aficionados, and librarians have known for years: the Petershams worked a kind of magic in their north light and the books they published captured the illustrations of a shared dream. ( )
  plumcover3 | Jan 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
"Under the North Light" belongs on the desk of every illustrator of children’s stories, accomplished or aspiring, as well as in the hands of anyone who loves children’s books or appreciates biographies of interesting people. Its no-nonsense descriptions of the hard work necessary to a successful career in collaborative art are sobering. But the real story here doesn’t focus on paying homage to the Puritan work ethic. Rather, Under the North Light is a tender and inspiring love story, one delivering on the promise that a couple can simultaneously nurture career, marriage, and family.
added by westonblelock | editForeWord Reviews (Nov 1, 2012)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0967926866, Hardcover)

The unusual and enduring partnership of Maud and Miska Petersham will intrigue everyone who is interested in the integration of life and work, values and livelihood. Maud and Miska met when they were young, aspiring artists working in their first New York City jobs. Maud, a 1912 Vassar graduate, had deep Yankee roots; Miska immigrated from Hungary in 1912 after rigorous study at the Royal National School for Applied Arts in Budapest. They met while working at a commercial design studio in New York City and married in 1917. They moved to Woodstock, New York, in 1920.

Pioneers in a golden age of children's book publishing in America, the Petershams were among a handful of people who set the direction for illustrated children's books as we know them today. They worked closely with such legendary editors as Louise Seaman Bechtel and May Massee, and with such inventive printers as Charles Stringer and William Glaser, greatly advancing the art of the illustrated children's book. Under their studio's north light they produced more than a hundred books, as illustrators or author/illustrators, during a career that spanned five decades.

Theirs was a deep collaboration of complementary backgrounds and temperaments, and a marriage that created a warm and welcoming household. Their books were not only immensely popular with children, but also admired by critics, librarians and tastemakers. In the years before the founding of the Caldecott Medal, their contributions were recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Four of the Petershams' books were selected for inclusion in the highly competitive AIGA exhibitions in the late 1920s and early 1930s. During the 1940s the Petershams won a Caldecott Honor (in 1942, for An American ABC) and a Caldecott Medal (in 1946, for The Rooster Crows.)

The abiding value of their work and the principles they espoused are the subjects of this book.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:18 -0400)

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WoodstockArts

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