Monday, October 6, 2014

Beautiful Book #20

Pish Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch by Nancy Willard. Illustrated by The Dillons. Harcourt, 1991.

You know the work of Leo and Diane Dillon even if you don't know their names. As a wholly collaborative husband and wife duo, they illustrated many, many sci-fi and fantasy book covers, almost 40 picture books, won numerous awards, and were prolific in their careers for a span of 50 years. They were pioneers in bringing cultural and racial diversity to both the mass market paperback format and the picture book genre. I could hand over 5-10 spots on this list of 50 titles to them but since I plan to showcase 50 separate illustrators here, I've been forced to choose just one, the most beautiful, of their titles. So, Pish Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch it is.

Nancy Willard's playful rhyming text about the exasperated maid in the home of the famous 15th Century Dutch painter is a hoot: "'How can I cook for you? How can I bake when the oven keeps turning itself to a rake?' ... 'My aunt was a squash,' said Hieronymus Bosch." The book is a love story, but rather than a princess fairy tale, it is a love story to art and to making do. You might find it the perfect antidote to the over-trod romance plot we're fed from all sides. The Dillons' Bosch-inspired illustrations, including the maid's chief form of transportation, a pickle-winged fish, are marvelous. You'll want to spend hours upon hours with them.

Leo Dillon passed away two years ago. You can read his NYT obituary here.

You can also peruse this blog that showcases their art, including many of their mass market paperback covers.

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