[WORLDKINGS] Journey to seek extraordinary record holders around the world (P.67) - Alice Provensen (USA): A Star in the Children’s-Book World.


(WorldKings.org) Alice Provensen illustrated and often wrote books for children for more than a half-century, helping young readers learn about animals and aviators, poems and presidents, Aesop’s fables and Chinese legends.

Ms. Provensen formed half of an illustrating team that was famous in the world of children’s books. Her husband, Martin, was the other half. Together they illustrated dozens of books for young and very young readers, beginning in the 1940s, and as their careers advanced they wrote many as well.

After Mr. Provensen died in 1987, Ms. Provensen was hesitant to continue her career. “When Martin died,” she told Publishers Weekly, “at first I didn’t think I would ever be able to work again.” But her daughter and an editor friend encouraged her, and she continued to write and illustrate into this decade, until she passed away in 2018.

Alice Rose Twitchell was born in 1918 . Her father, Jay, was a produce broker, and her mother, the former Kathryn Zelanus, was an interior decorator.

She grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles, graduating from Hollywood High School in 1935. She studied art after that, though she did not earn a degree, instead improving her skills on her own. By then she was doing animation work at Walter Lantz Productions, which had introduced its popular character Woody Woodpecker in 1940. The job would have usually been filled by a man, but she landed it, she said, because so many men were in the military. Mr. Provensen was animating Navy training films at the Walt Disney Studios nearby. They met in 1943 and married in 1944.

After the war they moved to Washington, where a friend helped them break into the book-illustrating business. The first book they illustrated, the “Fireside Book of Folk Songs” (1947), was a hit, catching the emerging folk-music wave.

They illustrated a number of volumes in the Little Golden Books series for young children. After living in New York City for a time, they bought a farm in the Hudson River Valley and started creating their own books, some of them based on their home life. “The Year at Maple Hill Farm” (1978) was a popular title.

After her husband’s death, Ms. Provensen not only carried on but also became even more adventurous in the types of projects she undertook. That was especially evident in the first book she wrote and illustrated after his death, “The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States” (1990). It had an intricately illustrated page for each president that suggested his career highs and sometimes lows. “Her paintings are inventive and bold,” Christopher Buckley wrote, reviewing the book in The Washington Post.

According to nytimes.com

Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings.org)


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