The Daily Heller: TGIF. Now for Something Cheerful

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Like every pandemic day, there are ups and downs. Today, the beginning of the Labor Day weekend and the official end of summer, I choose to look up (and go higher) by celebrating the 88-year-old Ed Emberley, one of the most prolific and influential drawing teachers and illustrators of children’s literature, a treasure in our popular arts. Among his most notable works are the Caldecott-honored One Wide River to Cross (1965), the Caldecott-winning Drummer Hoff (1967) and the bestselling Go Away, Big Green Monster (1992). He also created the teaching book Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals (1970), which launched a series and remains one of the bestselling books of its kind.


Mockup pages for Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals


Mockup pages for Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals

A few years ago, I wrote about Emberley's retrospective at the Worcester Art Museum and the Massachusetts-based artist’s personal archive of original hand-drawn sketches, woodblock prints, final proofs and first-edition books.

Reflecting Emberley’s decades of work, KAHBAHBLOOOM was an interactive exhibition for intergenerational audiences—parents and grandparents who may have enjoyed his books when they were kids, and a current generation of young readers and artists who continue to learn from him. The show was organized into sections that represent the primary media and methods of Emberley’s work as a picture-book artist, and featured the largest collection of his books ever assembled for display.


The Wizard of Op (cover), written and illustrated by Emberley, 1975


Ed Emberley’s ABC (cover), 1978


Cock-A-Doodle-Doo cover


“KAHBAHBLOOM,” woodblock print for production of Drummer Hoff, written and illustrated by Emberley, 1967


Drummer Hoff (cover), 1967, a Caldecott Medal book


Simons Song woodblock


Simons Song woodblock


Go Away Big Green Monster (cover), written and illustrated by Emberley, 1992