Lois Ehlert, creator of brightly colored children’s books, dies at 86
Lois Ehlert, the Caldecott Award-winning author and children’s book illustrator for “Color Zoo” (1997), whose 1989 book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” sold over $ 12 million. copies in various formats, died Tuesday in Milwaukee. She was 86 years old.
The death was confirmed by Lisa Moraleda, advertising director at Ms Ehlert’s publisher, Simon & Schuster.
Ms. Ehlert has created 38 books for young readers – some for infants and toddlers, others for children as young as 10 years old. objects.”
In “Chicka Chicka Boom BoomWritten by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, a full alphabet of brightly colored lowercase letters vie to climb a coconut palm tree and reach the top first. Chaos, minor injuries, and unabated enthusiasm ensue. As of 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll, President Barack Obama read the book – and showed Ms. Ehlert’s illustrations – to young visitors.
In “Color zoo(1997) – one of many notebooks she has written and illustrated – squares, circles and triangles become mice, tigers, foxes and more. The American Library Association committee that awarded the Caldecott that year (there were only three other honorary books), one of the most prestigious awards in children’s book publishing, has described as a “masterpiece of graphic design”.
Ms. Ehlert’s other book subjects included gardens (“Plant a rainbow”, 2003), snowmen (“Snowballs”, 1999), trees and their accessories (“Man with leaves”, 2005), animals interested in space travel (“Moon Rope / Un Lazo a la Luna”, 2003, based on a popular Peruvian tale), a dog who seems to speak (“Rrralph”, 2011) and a cat which the backyard bird-watching has an ulterior motive (“Feathers for Lunch”, 1996).
In one Interview 2014 with trade magazine The Horn Book, Ms Ehlert said that her home workspace was characterized by “a very full and overflowing wastebasket” (because “I make a lot of mistakes”) as well as “leftovers of Xerox Color “,” a worm-shaped pieces of paper all over the floor “(she was then working on her book” Holey Moley “) and six pairs of scissors. And her workday, she said, was a never-ending series of paper clippings.
“I have one on my right thumb now,” she said. The night before, she had found a paper worm stuck to one of her shoes.
Lois Jane Ehlert was born on November 9, 1934 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, a small town on the lake. She was the oldest of three children to Harry and Gladys (Grace) Ehlert. Mr. Ehlert was identified as a truck driver in the 1940 census, but his family liked to call him a laborer whose jobs included a dairy worker, maintenance worker, and gas station attendant.
Ms. Ehlert began creating art as a child, and her parents set up a folding table at home exclusively for her projects. Then they made a deal: As long as she kept working on her art, she didn’t have to clean up her papers, tools, and materials at the end of each day. For decades, she has publicly expressed her gratitude to them for this luxury. “We had a very small house,” she recalls.
She received a scholarship for the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, where she obtained a certificate in advertising design in 1957. Some family reports indicate that she went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Layton and others that she had a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Wisconsin .
Ms. Ehlert worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, and in her mid-twenties she was illustrating children’s books by other authors. His first was “I Like Orange” (1961), by Patricia Martin Zens. The first book she wrote and illustrated was “Growing Vegetable Soup” (1987), a sort of guide from the garden to the table, from planting seeds to boiling water in the kitchen.
Mrs Ehlert married the artist and designer John J. Reiss in 1967; they divorced in the 1970s. Her survivors include a brother, Dick, and a sister, Shirley Dinsch.
People who worked with Ms. Ehlert often mentioned her love of nature. Longtime editor Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books (part of Simon & Schuster) also admired her clear acceptance of the dark side of nature.
Ms Johnston recalled that when working with Ms Ehlert on “Ten Little Caterpillars,” a 2011 collaboration with Bill Martin Jr., she worried that so many of the main characters live, in particularly in a book intended for such young readers. , were in grave danger.
Ms Ehlert responded calmly, addressing her by her private nickname: “Tweet,” she said, “children know caterpillars live precarious lives.”