Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 144: Drawing Harry the dirty dog with Margaret Bloy Graham

Margaret's bio, borrowed from The Guardian:

The children’s illustrator Margaret Bloy Graham, who has died aged 94 (22 January 2015), is best known for her pictures for Harry the Dirty Dog, a story written by her first husband, Gene Zion. It was published in 1956 and has been in print ever since.
The tale is of a white dog with black spots who so hates to be bathed that he runs away from home, returning only when he has become a black dog with white spots whom nobody recognises. To re-establish his old life, he has to dig up the scrubbing brush he has buried and jump in the bath. It is a cautionary tale that appeals to adults and children alike; Graham’s Harry is charmingly and convincingly doggy, while Zion’s story captures moments and experiences that are fitting for a dog while also being familiar to many children.
Margaret Bloy Graham with a copy of Harry the Dirty Dog which first came out in 1956 and has been in print ever since
 Margaret Bloy Graham with a copy of Harry the Dirty Dog which first came out in 1956 and has been in print ever since
Further adventures of Harry included No Roses for Harry! (1958) and Harry by the Sea (1965). In addition, Graham and Zion wrote some stand-alone books, such as Dear Garbage Man (1957, published in the UK as Dear Dustman) and The Meanest Squirrel I Ever Met (1962).
Graham was born in Toronto, where her father, Malcolm Graham, was a doctor and her mother, Florence (nee Bloy), a nurse. She grew up in Ontario but spent her holidays in Britain with her grandfather or in the US with her aunt, and always felt she had strong links with both countries. Graham studied art history at the University of Toronto and then undertook further studies at New York University.
At the end of her course, she stayed in New York and pursued a career as a commercial artist, working at CondĂ© Nast, from 1946 to 1956. A year after she arrived there, Zion, also a graphic designer, joined the company and the two married in 1948. She encouraged him to write for children and with Zion’s securely child-focused texts and Graham’s illustrations, which cleverly combined vigorous line-drawn characters set in comfortable surroundings with a soft-coloured wash, the pair became a highly successful partnership.
Their first book, All Falling Down, a story inspired by some sketches of Graham’s, was published in 1951. A couple of similarly simple stories for very young children followed before the publication of Harry the Dirty Dog, which became the first of their books to be available in the UK when it was published by Bodley Head in 1960. The Harry titles were popular from the start and their success in the US was celebrated by the publication of a 50th anniversary edition in 2006.
Graham’s talent was recognised early. She was twice a runner-up for the Caldecott medal (awarded by the American Library Association for the “most distinguished American picture book for children” each year) for her illustrations: for All Falling Down; and for Charlotte Zolotow’s The Storm Book, 1953.
Graham and Zion divorced in 1968. After their split, Graham wrote and illustrated her own stories, beginning with Be Nice to Spiders (1967). She created Benjy, a new doggy character, who first appeared in Benjy and the Barking Bird (1971) and then in several follow-ups, ending with Benjy and his Friend Fifi (1988). She also worked with other authors, including illustrating Jack Prelutsky’s collection The Pack Rat’s Day and Other Poems (1974) and What If? (1987) and It’s Spring! (1989) by Else Homelund Minarik.
Her second marriage, to Oliver Wendell Holmes, ended in divorce.
Margaret Bloy Graham, illustrator, born 2 November 1920; died 22 January 2015.

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