What goes in…

Growing up, my parents didn’t have the money to buy us many individual picture books, however they did purchase the Childcraft series of compilations of poetry and storytelling. I still have a few dog-earred volumes, my favorite being Poems of Early Childhood (pictured here).

I learned to read on my mother’s lap and I’m sure the images I studied so closely in these volumes made an indelible impression on my artistic sensibility.

One of the illustrators I admired in this collection was Hildegard Woodward. 

Born February 10, 1898 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She studied art at the School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and later traveled to Europe and studied in Paris. She joined a group of artists in Boston and learned about book illustration from the illustrator Marguerite Davis. Hildegard Woodward continued her training in drawing and book making and in the 1930s she moved to New York. In 1931, Hildegard Woodward illustrated her first book for children The Blue Teapot: Sandy Cove Stories by Alice Dalgliesh. During her long career, she illustrated children’s books by such well-known authors as Alice Dalgliesh and Elizabeth Coatsworth. Hildegard Woodward received Caldecott Honor Book citations for Roger and the Fox (1947) in 1948 and The Wild Birthday Cake (1949) in 1950, both written by Lavinia (Riker) Davis. Hildegard Woodward also wrote and illustrated several children’s books beginning with Everyday Children in 1935. She published her last book for children The House on Grandfather’s Hill in 1961.

Biographical Sources:

Illustrators of Children’s Books: 1946-1956, pp. 201-202.

Newbery and Caldecott Medalists and Honor Book Winners: Bibliographies and Resource Material Through 1992, 2nd ed., p. 460.

Ode to Frida

 My little muse… studio goddess… resident clown…

She dogged me, especially in the last year – having lost sight in one eye due to a detached retina and her hearing gone, she’d awaken with a start and not see me sitting on her blind side, heave herself up and go off to search me out.

Couldn’t do the stairs any longer, or jump on and off the bed, so I carried her – on and off, up and down. Only 20 lbs, but she kept me buff.

What is it, to love a dog and be loved by a dog? For me, it is a testament to giving and caring. She didn’t mind if my hair looked bad or if I had an unproductive day – never judged me in any way. She proved you could make a mistake and feel terrible (when her kidneys and bladder failed), but be so thankful when no punishment came – a tail wag when I said, “that’s alright old girl, it’s okay”. She taught me to reevaluate the definition of “a good day”: a walk in the park, a nap in the sun, a treat you can chew (with the few teeth you have), any excuse to run in circles and act the fool – to age with grace with what you have left, until you have nothing left.

In the end, Frida didn’t know it was the end. We acted out of love and made that decision for her. She had stopped eating and couldn’t keep even fluids down. The vet came to the house, tears in her eyes. Frida gave a last small bark in defense, but softened to our visitor when she saw us greet her warmly, wagged her tail as she savored a last treat and tolerated the poke of the needle as the Valium eased her out of consciousness. She didn’t feel the final, heart-stopping drug which took her away forever.

After a few bad days, my husband hiked to the vet’s office to retrieve Frida’s ashes. They are in a small box in a prominent place in the living room, next to the photo of her I always took with me when I did readings of Lucky Boy. We had thought about scattering her ashes up at her beloved Mt. Tabor Park, where we walked every day, but in the end we decided she was such a house dog (didn’t even like to go into the backyard if it was raining) we will keep her ashes here in the house – a daily reminder of a stunningly sweet spirit, embodied in a stumpy-legged, barrel-chested wonder of a little dog named Frida.