Monday, June 29, 2015

Science Fiction's Journey From Pulp to Prestige

Robert A. Heinlein and the Transformation of a Genre

Science fiction, as defined by the online version of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.

Science, as defined by The Science Council, is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.

That systematic methodology based on evidence is the scientific method.  The scientific method, as taught in nearly every grade school in the country, involves the following principles: observation, purpose or question, research, hypothesis, experiment, analysis, and conclusion.  Bottom line is your statement must be supported by evidence, and your results must be able to be replicated by others.

These are tough concepts for any society where individuals define truth as whatever they want to believe and facts as any statement offered on the topic by another individual or organization that holds to the same belief.

Of course, if you live in a society where people actually view it as a virtue to use the brains they were born with, dealing with the unfortunate results of such skullduggery with reality is a non-issue.  

Science fiction makes you think, it makes you question, it makes you wonder.  Will the future bring utopia or dystopia?  Will we flourish or die out as a species?  What technologies loom over the horizon, and how will they be applied?  Are we all alone, or just one amongst the multitude? Why are we even here?

And finally, how did it happen that science fiction, a genre that's based in science and addresses the big questions of life, spent decades as one of the unwanted cousins at the literary family reunion, balancing precariously on an uncomfortable folding chair at a card table near the door with a draft, year after year denied a seat at the main table, where all the real literary genres had a place?  

There's a fair amount of discussion on the origins and evolution of the science fiction genre.  In terms of modern science fiction, the works of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Olaf Stapledon, among others, are acknowledged by most as establishing the foundation. (For an in-depth look at the history of the genre, see the Encyclopedia Britannica's article.)

The science fiction genre took off in the early twentieth century when in 1936 Hugo Gernsback founded the Amazing Stories magazine, publishing only science fiction stories.  The stories fell into two categories: those that highlighted legitimate scientific principals, and those that pushed the sensational with little basis in reality. Those stories did nothing to improve the genre's reputation. Other magazines publishing along similar lines followed, two examples being Weird Tales and Astounding Stories.  These magazines often had fantastic artwork on the covers, but the pages inside were composed of cheap, or pulp paper, making them inexpensive to produce. (For a quick but interesting history of pulp fiction magazines, read the article at The Vintage Library.)

Science fiction was building a fan base with these magazines and exerting for many readers a positive influence to pursue science as a career.  Robert A. Heinlein was one of those readers so inspired. And when his first career as a naval officer was derailed, it was through another magazine, John. W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction, that he established himself as a writer of science fiction.

Campbell came on board Astounding Science Fiction in 1938.  While there, he published stories by writers who went on to become the biggest names in the genre: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Damon Knight and Robert A. Heinlein. This was a period known as the Golden Age of science fiction,  featuring stories that focused on hard science and celebrated scientific achievement and progress.  After World War Two, the nature of science fiction would begin to change, with less focus on the hard sciences of physics, astronomy, chemistry and biology and more on the soft sciences of anthropology, sociology and political science.

Robert A. Heinlein began writing science fiction in the late 1930s.  Originally focused on a naval career, he graduated from Annapolis and served four years before being invalidated out of the service due to illness. Several other careers followed, but eventually he took to writing, publishing his first story, "Life-Line", in the August 1939 edition of Astounding Science Fiction. Many other stories followed.  Heinlein's stories included hard science, but they also focused on social issues, with the recurring themes of individual liberty, the obligations of the individual to society, the influence of institutions on the individual, and the consequences of espousing non-conformist thought.  Heinlein was fascinated with space travel and that was the focus of many of his stories and later novels.

During World War II, Heinlein worked as an aeronautical engineer for the U.S. Navy, and was a life-long advocate for the space program.  On July 20, 1969, Heinlein was in the studio as a commentator with Walter Cronkite and Arthur C. Clarke when Apollo 11 landed on the moon.  It was, as Heinlein told Cronkite, "…the greatest event in all the history of the human race."

After the war, Heinlein had four stories published in The Saturday Evening Post, the first science fiction writer to ever do so. More stories followed.  In 1947, Heinlein contracted with Charles E. Scribner's Sons for a series of juvenile science fiction novels, beginning with Rocket Ship Galileo in 1947 and ending with our book review for today, Have Space Suit - Will Travel in 1958.

Book #23:  Have Space Suit - Will Travel (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein. 184 pages.

High school senior Clifford "Kip" Russell wants more than anything to go to the Moon and live at the Lunar Base, or at least one of the satellite stations.  One way would be to get an appointment to the Air Academy at Colorado Springs, graduate and be selected for the Federation Space Corps. Not likely.  Kip's an okay student but his school is not the best.  Another would be to study engineering, and then get picked as one of five from the millions of willing applicants for a job on the Moon.  Also not likely.

Kip's father, Dr. Russell, offers advice but leaves it up to Kip to figure out a way.  Dr. Russell is retired from a job with the government, Kip's hazy on the details and his father isn't inclined to fill in the blanks, but whatever the job was it must have been important, because the government keeps sending people to their home to try and convince Dr. Russell to return.

Then one day, an ad for Skyway Soap appears in the newspaper.  The company is holding a jingle contest, and first prize is a trip to the moon.  Kip goes into overdrive, sending in hundreds of entries and hoping for the best.  He doesn't win a trip to the Moon, but he does win a space suit, a previously owned space suit. And that's just fine.

The space suit becomes his project.  Already spurred on to expand his studies on his own by Dr. Russell, Kip goes even further, learning all there is to know about space suits and refurbishing the one he has - Kip's named him Oscar - until it's in prime condition.  Kip then tests it out, taking longer and longer walks until he's as comfortable in the suit as he is in his own skin. 

But Kip needs money for college, so Oscar will have to be sold.  Kip decides to take one final walk with Oscar, and it's while he's on that walk that he receives a distress call from a spaceship.  Thinking its a joke, Kip supplies landing directions, and is astounded when a real, life flying saucer lands in the field in front of him.  A small figure disembarks, then collapses on the ground.  When Kip runs over to help, he's knocked out cold.

When he comes to, he discovers that he, along with two others, are prisoners on the ship.  One of the others is the Mother Thing, an alien with a disturbing resemblance to a lemur, but in whose presence one feels safe and protected.  The other is a ten year old girl. Her name is Patricia Wynant Reisfeld, a.k.a. PeeWee, and she's a genius. Her father is a very important scientist, and she's been kidnapped in an attempt to lure him to the moon, where the Wormfaces, the alien race that kidnapped Kip, PeeWee and the Mother-Thing, can utilize his abilities.

The Wormfaces resemble insects and are very, very scary. They are advanced technologically from humans, and as such view humans the same way humans view chickens. Dumb animals and a potentially tasty dinner, if prepared correctly.  The Wormfaces employ two human thugs to keep Kip and PeeWee in line, and they do their job enthusiastically. 

This is bad news for Kip and PeeWee. When the spaceship lands on the Moon, in a section undetected by the Lunar base, the three try to escape, but are thwarted just minutes before reaching the Lunar Base.  Things look hopeless, but then a second escape is attempted, and that one is successful. Unfortunately, Kip is seriously injured, all his limbs were frozen solid and destroyed. But, back at the Mother Thing's planet, they have the technology to heal him, and though it is a slow process, it is a successful one.

But once Kip is healed, he and PeeWee are taken by Mother Thing to the court of the Three Galaxies at the planet Lanador, where the fate of the human race will be decided. The Three Galaxies are similar to Earth's current Federated Free Nations, and like the previous United Nations.  The people of Lanador are the Old Race, where all civilization began.  Mother Thing is actually something close to a galactic cop, assigned to galaxies with the charge of ensuring that no upcoming civilization poses a threat to the Three Galaxies.

If the Three Galaxies judge your civilization to be a threat, you will be eliminated (no suffering, just here one moment and gone the next).  Kip and PeeWee, along with a Neanderthal and a Roman Legionnaire from the 3rd century AD, must convince the court to let them live.

In the end, the court is convinced to come back to Earth in another 80,000 years and make a judgement then.  Kip and PeeWee are sent back to Earth with some technological presents from Mother Things people, the Vegans, and Kip gets a full ride scholarship to M.I.T., courtesy a grateful Dr. Reisfeld.

Have Space Suit - Will Travel was a 1958 Hugo nominee and won the Sequoyah Children's Book award in 1961.

Have Spacesuit was a terrific read and chock full of science.  Everything you've ever wanted to know about how space suits work, how it is to walk on the moon, and much much more is in this book.  Kip and PeeWee are fully realized characters, Kip a typical 1950s teen who comes gradually comes to realize that he's got a great deal more to offer than he thought.  PeeWee is a genius and nobody's fool, she tough and more than willing at times to demand to take the lead when qualified, forget your 1950s stereotyped female.  The relationship between the two is realistic, with an ending that hints for more in the future.

This is an optimistic book, one that paints a positive future for mankind, and is a solid pick for the genre for the middle school and up crowd.

Have Space Suit - Will Travel at Amazon

Prior to this entry, I never realized that Heinlein wrote anything other than adult science fiction. My only exposure to his work was an obilgatory encounter in the 1970s with Stranger In A Strange Land, which was thrust at my person with the admonishment that I just had to read it.  Well, no, no I didn't.  I gave it a couple of chapters, and then tossed it into the pile with the other obligatory reads of The Magic Mountain and The Fellowship of the Ring. All great books, just not my cup of tea.

Starship Troopers, a film where Ken and Barbie battle giant bugs in the near future, was also based on a Heinlein novel. I sat through it to prove I was a good sport, but, really? This dreck was the product of the first Science Fiction Writer's Grand Master? 

The truth was that is most certainly wasn't.  Very little of Starship Troopers as written by Heinlein found its way into that film, and as far as the major point of the novel, the producer missed it entirely.  As Stephen King says, it's my book but it's their movie.  Another prime example.  Don't judge Heinlein by this movie.

Robert A. Heinlein was a huge presence in the science fiction genre, and a controversial and influential figure in American history.  Even the most superficial of searches for information on the man reveals a vast spectrum of opinions on his work, his philosophies, his lifestyle and his politics.  I'm not even going to try and address any of that here. There are multiple websites devoted to Heinlein, and a very thorough (if somewhat fannish) two-volume biography on his life by William H. Patterson Jr. to which you can avail yourselves for more information.  I urge you to do so, he was a fascinating man who had a significant impact in the shaping of the twentieth century.

And while you're at it, pick up a copy of Have Space Suit - Will Travel.  You won't regret it.

Robert A. Heinlein was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, the third of seven children of Alva and Bam Heinlein.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, leaving the Navy 
in 1934 due to illness. Heinlein was married three times, no children. He was he recipient of numerous awards for his writing and advocacy of the space program. Heinlein died in 1988, following a long period of illness.

The Life and Works of Robert A. Heinlein at the Heinlein Society

Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein Papers at the University of California - Santa Cruz

July 2, 2015:  Per Farah M. a great source for information on science fiction is which will point them to a treasure trove of sources. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction is a good start as well. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Preacher's Daughter Who Posed the Questions

Lois Lenski's Regional Series: This is How Our Children Live

In my previous post dedicated to author and librarian Julia L. Sauer, I discussed some of the aspects of the initiatives on the part of librarians and teachers in the decades leading up to World War II to generate more quality realistic fiction for children, what Ms. Sauer referred to as "right-now"stories.  

In her article, "Making the World Safe for The Janey Larkins", which appeared in the January 5, 1941 edition of Library Journal, Sauer focuses on the great need to build a sympathetic understanding of the lives and problems of all of the country's different groups through the production of well-written stories that question current living conditions, the impact of economic forces on households and individuals, and describe, without judgement or moralizing, the day-to-day workings of their everyday lives.  Such books, claims Sauer, can lay a foundation in young readers, giving them tools to reexamine and combat existing prejudices.

I have no way of knowing if author-illustrator Lois Lenski ever read this article, but she most assuredly answered its call. In her sixteen book American Regional Series, beginning with Bayou Suzette in 1943 and concluding with Deer Valley Girl in 1968, Lenski told the stories of American children and their families who lived in the lesser well known regions of the country.  But the series didn't just focus on where they lived; it focused on how they lived. In a marked departure from the bulk of then current children's literature, the children and families in Lenski's books were not members of the comfortable middle to upper class.  Lenski's children and their families were sharecroppers in Arkansas (Cotton in My Sack), coal miners in West Virginia (Coal Camp Girl), migrant workers along the East Coast (Judy's Journey), and American-born Chinese in San Francisco's Chinatown (San Francisco Boy).  

And forget the King's English, Lenski took pains to record, to the best of her ability, the regional dialects that were the language of her children and their families. Lenski lived with the people she wrote about, studied and sketched them, ate meals in their homes and visited with them the places where they worked and played. She didn't just listen and record, she also worked, picking cotton, traveling down into the coal mine, and more. 

Lenski had a considerable body of work under her belt before embarking on her Regional series.  Starting out as an illustrator for other author's stories, Lenski writes in her autobiography, Journey Into Childhood: The Autobiography of Lois Lenski (1972), that she found it hard to be sympathetic to a story written by another person. Eventually, with the help of editor Helen D. Fish, she wrote and illustrated her first book, Skipping Village (1927), based on her childhood in Anna, Ohio.

Many more books were to follow. Lenski continued to illustrate the works of others, including the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace, but her focus was increasingly on authoring her own books. These books included the a series of painstakingly researched historical books for older readers,  the "Davey" books for the pre-school set and the "Mr. Small" books for the beginner readers. She also collaborated on a series of songbooks with Clyde Robert Bulla, and wrote several collections of poetry.

All of Lenski's Regional books contain a Foreward by the author that includes details of her research for the particular book, and in Strawberry Girl, the book that won the 1946 Newbery Medal, a statement of her goal in creating the series.  

          In this series of regional books for American children, I am trying to present vivid, 
          sympathetic pictures of the real life of different kinds of Americans, against authentic 
          backgrounds of diverse localities.  We need to know our country better; to now and 
          understand people different from ourselves; so that we can say: "This then is the way
          these people lived.  Because I understand it, I admire and love them." Is not this a
          rich heritage for our American children?

Yes, it is.

Book #21:  Blue Ridge Billy (1946), written and illustrated by Lois Lenski. 203 pages. Includes a 
                 Glossary of Mountain Terms and Phrases and original and traditional song lyrics.

Young Billy Honeycutt lives with his family in a cabin with a small family farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, just over the border from Tennessee.  Billy's the oldest, and with his father gone off taking logs down the mountain with the other men, a great deal of responsibility for running the farm falls on his shoulders. 

It's a hardscrabble life, but a full one, and people get by the best they can. Billy's friend Sarey Sue lives with her Granny Trivett in a cabin up from the Honeycutts, and the two make their living collecting yarbs and selling them to the general storekeeper, who in turn sells them to the big drug companies.  Uncle Pozy weaves and sells baskets. Others make their living selling illegal liquor, moonshine, and woe to anyone who stumbles upon their business. 

Billy's got an artistic streak in him, he loves music and he loves to ramble the woods near sunset, but he can fight with the best of them, or the worst of them in the case of the Burl Moseley and the Buckwheat Holler boys.

But it's that artistic streak that causes Billy conflict with his father, Rudolph Honeycutt.  He views Billy's obsession with music as foolishness and a waste of time. Billy's mother is more sympathetic, since her people were very musical. Her brother, Billy's uncle, is an expert fiddler.  Unfortunately, none of his Uncle's children express any interest in playing.  Billy himself wants a banjo, the one he's seen hanging in the general store, so he asks Uncle Posey to teach him how to make baskets, so he can sell them and raise money for its purchase. When his father learns of the plan, he loses his temper, and uses the money that Billy earned to buy a new hunting dog.

Billy is devastated by his father's actions, and starts to avoid anything to do with music. He's also begun to suspect that his father is a bootlegger, because he's seen him near the location of a still. As it turns out, his father's not a bootlegger at all, in fact, the reason that Rudy's been absent so much over the past few months was because he was keeping an eye on the bootleggers himself, and working to get them out of the area. Learning this, Billy begins to understand the reason behind his father's recent behavior. Best of all, Uncle Posey has had a heart-to-heart with Rudy about Billy's musical ambitions, causing Rudy to see the light, and to such a degree that Rudy buys Billy a brand new fiddle, and grants him permission to take lessons from his uncle. The story concludes with Billy, now known as Blue Ridge Billy, playing his fiddle at the square dance to the enjoyment of everyone, including his father.

You want realistic, this is realistic.

My first thought after reading Blue Ridge Billy was how was it possible that I never read this book as a kid? Seriously, I would have devoured it in a day and then gone out and gotten ever single book in the series from the library. It's fantastic, it's wonderful, it's real.

Lenski packs an enormous amount of detail in this book, and, as is the case with all expert storytellers, makes those details flow seamlessly with the story. Details on the landscape, the folk crafts and medicines, the traditional ballads and instruments, it's all there. But it's the characters that grab you, Billy and Sarey Sue, Granny Trivett and Uncle Posey. By the time you reach the end of the book, you feel like you know them, and what's more, that you want to know them better.

Blue Ridge Billy at Amazon

I pulled as many of the Regional books as I could from surrounding libraries after reading Blue Ridge Billy, eight in all. That left me with seven more to track down, six more now that I purchased Bayou Suzette from the Friends of the Jefferson Library in Metairie, Louisiana. (I have a weakness for all things Cajun). None of the libraries had the whole series, and that is wrong, it is just so wrong. Lenski does what she set out to do, and we should be reaping the benefits of all her hard work dedicated to helping us understand who we were, who we are, and how we all got here.

Lenski gave us a foundation.  It's time we started constructing a first floor.

This is what I propose, and I know that there's a great deal of blue sky in this initial proposal, but hear me out.

Lois Lenski spent almost twenty-five years writing her American Regional series, along with its younger version, the Roundabout America series (more on that in a later post).  That's a lot of work from one individual.

My proposal is to create an updated version of the American Regional series, each volume to be written by a different author, all volumes to be completed within a defined two year period.  Upon completion, all the volumes are to be released for publication on the same day.

The books would be aimed at readers 9-12 years old.  No book should exceed 200 pages, 160 pages would be the preferred length. The protagonist in each book is a boy or girl between 9-12 years old.  For each of the country's different regions, you would have the following family constructs.

                    A single parent household with two or more children, female or male parent.

                    A two parent household with two of more children, the parents being male and
                    female, female and female, and male and male.

                    A household headed by a relative other than a parent, could be a relative 
                    or non-relative.

                    A group home with unrelated children living together.

                    A child or children in a foster and/or adoptive home.

                    A homeless family. 

The next step is to include religion and race with each type of family.  Now you have your base.

Next, gather up the nation's best storytellers. They don't have to be children's authors, just masters at their craft. Here's a list of potential participants, feel free to add your own:

Sherman Alexie
Margaret Maron
Stephen King
Kathi Applet
Jack Gantos
Gene Luen Yang
Pam Munoz Ryan
Julius Lester
Chris Crutcher
Sharon M. Draper
Grace Lin

Finally, the first book for all of the children and their families, by all of the authors, will have this common plot, and ONLY this plot.

The family breadwinner/breadwinners loses/lose their job.

What happens now?

Read. Reflect. Discuss.

Lois Lenski (1893 - 1974) was born in Springfield, Ohio, the daughter of a Lutheran minister and the fourth of five children. After obtaining her teaching degree, she moved to NYC to study at the Art Students League, working part time as a commercial artist to meet her tuition.  After saving her money, she traveled to London for further study and illustrated several books while there. Upon her return to the United States in 1921, she married muralist Arthur Covey, one of her instructors at the Art Students League, a widower with two children. The family eventually made their home in Connecticut. In her forties Lenski experienced failing health, and as a result spent her winters in Florida, moving there permanently after her husband's death in 1960. She died in 1974 at the age of 80.

Lois Lenski  Covey Foundation library grants.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Barbara Cooney: Brooklyn Born and Maine Bound

The Illustrator Who Shows Up in the Most Unexpected Books

I'm going to toss out a few names here, all of artists currently working or artists who have worked in the field of children's book illustration.  Don't worry if you don't recognize all of them, even just a few will serve the purpose. Ready? Here we go:

Jan Brett
James E. Ransome
Chris Raschka
Bill Martin Jr.
Tasha Tudor
Eric Carle
Kadir Nelson
Quentin Blake
Beatrix Potter

Now, if you're like me, as soon as you read a familiar name you also recalled an image or multiple images of the artist's body of work.  Not for a minute would you mistake an illustration by Quentin Blake with one from Tasha Tudor, or a Jan Brett with an Eric Carle.  Each of the above illustrators has a unique and distinctive style, instantly recognizable and easily identified.  

Not the case with Barbara Cooney.

I didn't realize this at first, because when I hear the name Barbara Cooney, I immediately envision her illustrations from The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, or from my favorite book of hers, Miss Rumphius, which she also wrote. Both of these titles were published during the latter phase of her career, The Ox-Cart Man in 1979, and Miss Rumphius in 1982.  At that point, Cooney's reputation and track record were such that she could write and illustrate the books she wanted to in exactly the manner she chose, a far cry from her situation at the beginning of her career. Back then, in the early 1940s, Cooney had repeatedly requested of her publisher that she be allowed to move from the black and white scratchboard illustration to a full, camera separated color illustration. Her requests were consistently denied. The reason? Cooney, according to her publisher, had no "color sense". Right. More likely, the publisher simply didn't want to underwrite the effort. Color cost money, and each additional color cost more money. It was also a time-consuming process, and an extremely technical one.

Cooney wasn't one to take no for an answer, and she persisted. After years of illustrating, to growing acclaim, a minimum of two books a year, Cooney finally got the go-ahead for her next book to use five colors with her scratchboard, but not on every page, only on about half. The other pages were to be largely black and white, or might include up to two colors. Cooney took it and ran with it. The end result was Chanticleer and Fox, adapted from Chaucer's  The Canterbury Tales and illustrated by Cooney.

Chanticleer and Fox was the Caldecott Medal Winner in 1959.

So much for no "color sense".

Book #20:  Chanticleer and Fox (1958).  Adapted and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. 34 pages.

Chanticleer and Fox is an adaptation of the "Nun's Priest's Tale" from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales as translated by Robert Mayer Lumiansky. Lumiansky graduated from the Citadel, received his Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, served in the army in World War II, and was awarded both a Bronze Star and the Croix du Guerre. A scholar, he taught in a number of universities and retired after fifty years as the Dean of the Graduate School at Tulane University. He wrote a number of books on Chaucer, Malory and their respective works.

The story of Chanticleer as told by Cooney is the story of a prideful rooster narrowly escaping certain downfall at the hands of a wily fox, a consequence of his susceptibility to the fox's extravagant flattery.

Chanticleer, the rooster, belongs to a poor widow with two young daughters. The family lives in a small cottage beside a grove in a little valley.  Chanticleer has seven wives, the most beloved by him  the Demoiselle Partlet.  Chanticleer was a fine figure of a rooster, and no there was no other that could match his ability to crow and sing.

One morning, Chanticleer awakes moaning and groaning, the result of a bad dream. He tells Partlet that he dreamed he was in extreme danger from a beast "like a hound"that roamed the yard and wanted to kill him. Partlet tells him to get a hold of himself, it's only a dream, and Chanticleer shakes it off.

But later, a fox appears and flatters Chanticleer into singing for him while closing his eyes, stretching his neck and standing on his tiptoes to make his voice stronger.  The fox takes advantage of Chanticleer's exposed position to snatch him by the throat and carry the rooster off towards the woods,  clenched firmly between his jaws.  A great uproar ensues when the others become aware of Chanticleer's plight, and run after the fox towards the woods. A terrified Chanticleer then tricks the fox into letting him go, just for a brief moment, convincing the fox to tell the crowd that their pursuit is futile. The moment fox loosens his jaw to speak, Chanticleer escapes, and flies up to a tall tree.

The fox tries to sweet talk him down, but Chanticleer, now all the wiser, isn't buying it.  Defeated, the fox leaves, and Chanticleer returns to the loving arms of his family, a day older and a great deal wiser.

Cooney often stated that she didn't create picture books for children, she created them for people, and Chanticleer is an excellent example. The language reflects the time period, retaining a certain formality.  Children may not immediately get each word or phrase, but they will be able to follow and enjoy the story through the context and the illustrations. Cooney didn't believe that children should only read about things they understand, but instead be exposed to things that stretch their imaginations and their minds. Chaucer certainly qualifies. Cooney included a myriad of details in her books believing that even if a reader didn't initially "get" everything she included, that every reader would get something of what was there, and later, returning to the story, eventually get more and more, eventually developing a fuller understanding.

Cooney's artwork in Chanticleer is brilliant. Cooney did extensive research for all her books, and for Chanticleer, she studied live chickens in a pen in her studio for models. She also utilized the New York Public Library, the Cloisters and the Pierpont Morgan Library, studying the rare illuminated manuscripts of the story's time period. The intricate details and bright colors served as inspiration for  Chanticleer's illustrations.

The Art of Children's Picture Books blog has an entry devoted to the illustrations of Chanticleer and Fox.

I still have my own copy of Chanticleer and Fox published in 1958 by Thomas Y. Crowell Co.  Fifty-seven years later, it's still a glorious book, and one to be shared.

Cooney, previously recognized for her graphic skills as an illustrator and following the the success of Chanticleer and Fox, was now in a position to expand her artistic abilities in other directions, to include charcoal, collage, watercolors and acrylics on fiber.  It was also at this point that Cooney realized the importance of place, the physical impact of place on character as well as the spiritual impact of place, the mood of the place. She began to travel widely, and her illustrations, previously focused mainly on stand-alone characters, began to incorporate place with character, stressing the inextricable relationship between the two.

Cooney eventually settled in her adopted state of Maine, living on the coast and producing books with strong New England themes, and that stress importance of intergenerational ties. It was during this period that she created my personal favorite, a book that reflects her journey as an artist and an individual, Miss Rumphius.

Book #21: Miss Rumphius (1982). Story and pictures by Barbara Cooney. 32 pages.

Little Alice Rumphius sits on her grandfather's knee and listens to tales of his youthful travels to faraway places.  She tells her grandfather that someday, she too will travel to faraway places and live by the sea, as he does now. Her grandfather tells her that her goals are all well and fine, but that there is something else she must do, a third thing, and that is to make the world more beautiful. Her grandfather is now an artist, making figureheads for ships, and that is how he makes the world more beautiful.

Alice agrees, but does not yet know how she can make the world more beautiful. She will have to discover that on her own.

Alice grows up, becomes a librarian, and travels the world far and wide. She has many adventures, and makes many friends.  One day, she hurts her back alighting from a camel.  She decides to return home, and builds her house by the sea.  She is old now, and not always in the best of health, but she is burdened by the realization that she still has not done the third thing; she has not made the world more beautiful. One day, after a harsh winter, she takes a walk and sees that the wind has taken the seeds from the lupines in her garden and now there are lupines blooming in the surrounding fields.  They are beautiful, and then and there Miss Rumphius decides that that is what she'll do.  She will plant lupines everywhere she can, and make the world more beautiful.  She has found her own way to bring beauty into the world.

Miss Rumphius buys five bushels of the very best lupine seed, and wanders all about, sowing seeds wherever she goes. Some people call her That Crazy Old Lady, but once the flowers bloom, she becomes the Lupine Lady.  Now very old, she tells her great-grandneice, another Alice, about her faraway travels and her home by the sea.  Alice says that she too, will travel and have a home by the sea.  Miss Rumphius says that that is all well and fine, but that she must do a third thing, make the world more beautiful.

Alice agrees.

Everything about this book is wonderful.  The folk art style of the illustrations, the soft colors, the intricate detail.  Cooney is at the peak of her progression as a storyteller, with not one extraneous word to be found. All Of Cooney's favorites are here, the intergenerational relationships, travel, Maine, the passing of the seasons, and the search for artistic expression, a search fulfilled for Miss Rumphius with her scattering of lupine seeds.

This is a book for children, and it is also a book for adults. We all want our lives to matter, we all want to live fully in this world, but the hows and the whens behind our desires are not always so easily found. Miss Rumphius found hers, and the hows and whens of how she found them is a story we all can benefit from knowing.

Miss Rumphius at Amazon.

 To see the progression of Barbara Cooney's art, visit the blog my vintage book collection (in blog form).  You'll be surprised at how many books and for how many authors Cooney illustrated.  My favorite is Rumer Godden's The Story of Holly and Ivy.

Barbara Cooney Papers at The University of Connecticut.

Barbara Cooney Papers at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Barbara Cooney Papers at The University of Minnesota.

Barbara Cooney (1917 - 2000) was born in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of stockbroker Russell Schenck and artist Mae Evelyn Bossert Cooney. She had a twin brother and two other brothers.  The family was well-off financially, and Cooney spent her summers as a child with relatives in Maine.  Encouraged but never overwhelmed by her mother to pursue her artistic ambitions, Cooney drew constantly as a child. She graduated from Smith College in 1938 with a degree in Art History and a plan to become a children's book illustrator. She took several courses at The Art Student's League in NYC, and with the advent of WWII, enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (the WACs), leaving two years later due to pregnancy and her marriage to her first husband, with whom she had two children Divorced several years later, Cooney later remarried, and had another two children. She began illustrating children's books in 1940, working in the field until her death due to illness in 2000.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wanda Ga'g Will Be An Artist

The Little European Girl from New Ulm, Minnesota

In 1929, the Newbery Medal Selection Committee named Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g as one of six Newbery Honor Books.  Originally published in in 1928 by Coward-McCann, Cats was a small book physically, measuring 7" x 10", with not even a 1/2" thickness, but the impact and influence of that little book on the development of the modern picture book was enormous. Cats remains today the oldest children's picture book in continuous print in the United States. It was the first picture book to use a double-page spread, and the text was hand-lettered as opposed to typeface, the result being text that visually was perfectly aligned with the artwork, which in turn enhanced the actual telling of the tale. Cats also contains one of the most memorable refrains of all children's books:

Cats here, cats there,
Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats,
Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats.

The author and illustrator of Millions of Cats was thirty-five year old Wanda Ga'g, a well-known and widely respected artist with a background in both commercial and the fine arts. Ga'g had under her belt several individual shows featuring her lithographs and wood-engravings, one at the New York City Public Library in 1923 and another at the influential Weyhe Gallery in New York City in 1926.  It was after attending the Weyhe Gallery exhibition of her work that Ernestine Evans, the children's editor at Coward-McCann, approached Ga'g with the proposal of illustrating a children's book, Ouida's The Nuremberg Stove. Evans was impressed by Ga'g's work, which she described as beautiful, very simple, and full of the wonder of common things. Evans wanted to enlist America's artists in the service of children, and Ga'g was at the top of her list.

The Nuremberg Stove never happened. As it turned out, Ga'g had previously submitted several children's books to publishers without generating so much as a nibble. With Evans, Ga'g wrote, rewrote and revised one of those books, which became the wildly successful Millions of Cats. Other books followed, The Funny Thing (1929), Snippy and Snappy (1931), The ABC Bunny (1933), Gone is Gone, or, the Story of a Man Who Wanted to Do Housework (1935), Growing Pains: Diaries and Drawings for the Years 1908-1917 (1940), and Nothing at All (1941).  Ga'g also translated, adapted and illustrated a number of Grimm's fairy tales, winning a Caldecott Medal runner-up in 1939 for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The illustration of children's books, prior to Ga'g's arrival on the scene, was viewed as a not quite respectable undertaking for "serious" artists, but Wanda Ga'g changed all that.  She took to book illustration the same dedication and commitment she applied to her fine arts work, and the world of children's picture books is infinitely the richer that she did.

Book #19: The ABC Bunny (1933) by Wanda Ga'g, illustrated by Wanda Ga'g. 34 pages.

Wanda Ga'g was often asked by children if she drew her characters from models or from memory. She did both.  In the case of The ABC Bunny, Ga'g studied dozens of rabbits, finally selecting one little snub-nosed specimen as her hero, sketching her live model in a myriad of different poses.

The ABC Bunny is an alphabet book that tells a story.  When a big, red apple crashes down from its tree, it startles the sleeping little bunny, who dashes off to Elsewhere. Along the way the little bunny meets a variety of creatures, including a lazy Lizard, a jaunty Jay, a prickly Porcupine and some very unpleasant weather (G for Gale! H for Hail!).  Finally, the little bunny heads back to Bunny Town, is welcomed home by family and friends, and the tale is over.

Like the majority of Ga'g's books, the artwork in The ABC Bunny is black and white, the only color relief being the bright red capital letters of the alphabet that appear at the start of each page.

The ABC Bunny was a family affair, with Ga'g's brother Howard hand lettering the text, and her baby sister, Flavia, an illustrator in her own right, composing the ABC Song appearing in the front and back of the book.

The ABC Bunny Song on YouTube

I love The ABC Bunny above all but one* of the wealth of alphabet books out there because it tells a story, and is not just a list random objects whose names happen to start with a certain letter.  Stories are always better than lists, stories are almost always better than anything.

Artwork is always subjective but quality is not.  Whether of not Ga'g's work appeals to you, the superior quality of her work is indisputable.  I love it.  It's deceptively simple, warm and never an assault on the senses. Her writing style reflects her background, a childhood grounded in folk and fairy tales, another of my favorite types of stories, so this book is a win-win for me anyway you look at it.  And for you.

The ABC Bunny was a Newbery Honor runner-up in 1934.

The good news is that most of Ga'g's books are available through the University of Minnesota Press.  If you don't already have Millions of Cats, The ABC Bunny, or Done is Done, or, the Man Who Wanted to Do Housework in your collection, there's no time like the present.  Pair any one of them with Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw by Deborah Kogan Ray and present them together, a small glimpse of the big picture.

The kids will love you for it.

The ABC Bunny at the University of Minnesota Press

Wanda Ga'g (rhymes with JOG) was born on March 11, 1893 in New Ulm, Minnesota, the oldest of seven children of Bohemian immigrants, Anton Gag and his wife, Elisabeth, called Lissi, Biebl.  Wanda's father was an artist who made his living painting and decorating churches and houses in the New Ulm area. A fine artist himself, the son of a woodcarver from the Bohemian Forest, Anton encouraged all his children's artistic endeavors, and was particularly close to Wanda.  New Ulm at that time was a truly European village, German being the dominant language, and Wanda did not speak English until she started school. The family was close-knit, loving and supportive. Wanda later described typical evenings filled with music, story-telling and drawing. She described her "drawing fits", periods where she would block out the world and draw, as beginning in her childhood.

When Wanda was fourteen, he father died of tuberculosis. On his deathbed, Anton reiterated to his oldest the importance of her pursing her artistic career, a career denied him, by telling her, "Was der Papa night thin knot, muss die Wanda halt fertig machen." In English, "What Papa has left undone, Wanda will have to do."

This was a formidable task. With a sickly mother and six younger siblings, Wanda became the de facto head of the household.  Determined to keep the family together, and insistent that each child should earn a high school diploma, Wanda supported the family through a combination of insurance money, sales of her sketches and stories to magazines, painting lampshades, and designing greeting cards and calendars, all while attending high school. Food and other necessities were scarce, and Wanda was criticized by many who believed that she should quit school and take a solid job to support the family. Thankfully, she didn't listen.

Eventually, after the next two sisters graduated high school and could contribute financially, Wanda accepted a scholarship to study at the Minneapolis Art School.  When her mother died in 1916, she moved some of her younger siblings in with her, and continued studying and working. The series of journals and diaries she kept during those years were later published in 1940 as Growing Pains: Diaries and Drawings for the Years 1908-1917.

In 1917, Wanda won a scholarship to the Art Student's League in New York City, where she studied, continued to support her family, and gained financial security as a commercial artist in fashion illustration. It wasn't enough, and it wasn't what she wanted. Taking her savings, she secured a house in Connecticut, in the countryside, where she focused on her art, and developed her individual style. Critical success followed, along with her fateful meeting with Ernestine Evan, launching Ga'g on an additional career of children's book author and illustrator.  In 1930, Ga'g married Earle Humphreys, a salesman, and the two resided at "All Creation", a country estate in New Jersey, along with Ga'g's brother Howard, and sister, Flavia.

In 1946, Wanda Ga'g died of lung cancer in New York City. She was 53 years old.

Wanda Gag Papers at the University of Minnesota

Wanda Gag Papers at Penn State University

Wanda Gag Papers at the University of Southern Mississippi

In May of 1947, less than a year after her death, The Horn Book published a commemorative issue devoted to Wanda Ga'g. The issue contained articles about Ga'g by friend and biographer Alma Scott, founder and director of the Weyhe Gallery, Carl Zigrosser, Coward-McCann editor and director Ernestine Evans, editor Rose Dobbs, artist and illustrator Lynd Ward, and her husband Earle Humphreys. They are wonderful articles, reflecting the love, respect and admiration each felt for Wanda Ga'g.  There's a motherlode of information here that goes well beyond the scope of a blogpost, but I do want to share two points before I go.

The first is from the article by Lynd Ward, entitled Wanda Ga'g, Fellow Artist.  This is what Ward had to say about her art:

     …grounded in a very basic sympathy. Despite the great success that her books
     brought her, her spiritual home was always among those, both artists and laymen,
     who were pushed around by circumstances and less than well treated by a world
     that in our lifetime has too often seemed patterned more for the strong and ruthless
     than for those who, to put it more obliquely, believe that cats and trees and
     old spinning wheels are pretty important in the scheme of things.
                                                                                            (The Horn Book, May/June 1947)

The second is from the article by her husband, Earle Humphreys, entitled Letters from Children to Wanda Ga'g.  A group of schoolchildren, asked to vote for their favorite illustrator and give the reason why, voted for Wanda Ga'g. One of the reasons given, by a child unaware of the artist's death, was this:

     "She was so young and she drew such lovely pictures."

That she was, and she did.

 *The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963) by Edward Gorey.  Most definitely NOT for children.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Quintessential Cowboy from La Belle Province

Quebecois Joseph Ernest Nephthali DuFault's Creates the American Cowboy, Will James

In 1927, Will James won the Newbery Medal for his novel Smokey: The Cow-horse.  The story was based on James's real life, and on James's real horse, a blue roan named Smokey. James worked as a cowboy, ranch hand, and rodeo performer for horse and cattle ranches in the Western Canadian provinces and in the American Dakotas, Montana, New Mexico and California. It was James's third novel, and like all those previous and all those yet to come, it was illustrated by James. A self-taught artist, James always sketched from memory, never from models, horses and Western scenes being his subjects of choice.

Three years later he published his autobiography, Lone Cowboy: My Life Story.  The book was wildly popular, as was James, now something of a celebrity. In Lone Cowboy, James relates the story of his harsh childhood, wandering youth, and checkered career before achieving success as an illustrator and author. James relates how he was born on June 6, 1892, near Great Falls, Montana, to a Texan father and a Californian mother who were on their way to Canada with the intention of establishing their own ranch. After James's birth, they decided to settle in Montana.  His mother died of the flu when Will was one; his father died after being gored by a steer when Will was four. Will was then raised by a Metis trapper named Jean Beaupre, who wandered with the boy through the Northern bush country, often one step ahead of the law. James was often left alone when Bopy, his name for Beaupre, would leave to set his traps. He spent his days sketching, copying pictures from old magazines, and from time to time mingling with the cowboys and ranch hands he encountered in the course of his and Bopy's travels. Bopy, barely literate in French and unable to read English, taught him to read French, and the two conversed only in that language. Bopy loved the boy as his own, and James returned his affection.

When James was about thirteen, Bopy died, drowning in an overflowing river. James searched for weeks for his body, but never found it.  Returning to the one room log cabin where the two had made their most recent home, James packed up his belongings, and hit the road, beginning his career as an itinerant cowboy.

It's a great story, and a complete lie. Except for one thing, the birthdate of June 6, 1892.  That was true. It just wasn't true for Will James.

It was true for Joseph Ernest Nephthali DuFault, born that day to Jean Baptiste and Josephine Dufault in St. Nazaire d'Acton, Quebec. Called Ernest, he was the second child in a family of six, three girls and three boys.  The family was Francophone, and around 1900 they moved to Montreal.  Eventually, the family settled in the suburb of St. Hyacinth, where Ernest's father ran a boarding house patronized by Metis trappers. Ernest started drawing as a young child, filling sketchbook after sketchbook.  He loved listening to the stories the trappers told, of life in the northern bush country. But it was when Buffalo Bill's Wild West show came to town that Ernest discovered his true love, one that would never leave him, and that was for the Old West and horses.

When Ernest was fifteen, he left his family's home, boarding a train for Saskatchewan with ten dollars in his pocket and the dream of becoming a cowboy.

It's at this point that the two accounts, one fictional and one true, intersect and what follows, both in James's autobiography and in reality begin to mesh.

James worked several of the big ranches, and then got himself into some kind of trouble with the law, the details are varied and fuzzy, the Mounties may have been involved, and jail time, but the end result was that Ernest, who, after trying on and discarding a number of different aliases, now went by the name of Will James, made his way over the border and began working at different ranches in the American West.  The days of free range ranching was coming to an end, but James managed to get several years of experience in at the end of the era.

In a display of incredibly poor judgment, James participated in a cattle rustling episode in 1914 that earned him fifteen months of residency with the Nevada Department of Corrections at the State Penitentiary in Carson City. He did a lot of drawing in his spare time.

After he was released, he wandered for several years, working on ranches and forming a rodeo show with several other cowboys.  James knew that his days as a cowboy were numbered.  The years of abuse were taking its toll on his body, and he had spent months in the hospital after being thrown and landing headfirst on a railroad tie by a particularly spirited gelding.

It was time to move on, and now he had someone to help him.  James had married the sister of one of his best friends, Alice Conradt, in 1920.  She was sixteen, he was twenty-eight.  James concentrated on his art, finally succeeding in selling some of his work to magazines, but money was still tight. James often complained to Alice that the so-called Western stories in magazines were riddled by cliches and misinformation, that there was no way the writers could have had any first hand knowledge of the life of a cowboy. Alice encouraged him to write his own stories, and illustrate them, and submit to the magazines himself.  Reluctant at first, he eventually did so, and on his first try sold a story in 1923 to Scribner's.  More sales followed, articles and novels, the Newbery, film adaptations and at one point Will and Alice purchased a large ranch south of Billings called the Rocking R Ranch.

The same name as the ranch in the book, Smokey: The Cow-horse

Book #18: Smokey: The Cow-horse (1926) by Will James, illustrated by Will James. 323 pages.

Smokey is a book about a cowboy and his horse.

The book is divided into three separate sections; each section could read as a book on its own.

The first section covers Smokey's birth and early life in the wild.  It is all about the horse. James describes the individual development - physical and social - of Smokey, and the social hierarchy and interactions of the herd, how they train their young, gather food, interact with other herds, and more.  The reader follows Smokey on his journey from being a new-born colt to four-year-old, the age at which all range geldings are run in (to the ranch) and broke to either saddle or harness.  Enter the cowboy, Clint.

The second section covers Smokey's training at the ranch with the cowboy Clint, and his subsequent role as a cow-horse on the Rocking R Ranch.

Clint recognizes something special about Smokey, a spirit and intelligence of rare combination.  Smokey may belong to the ranch, but Clint realizes that Smokey is his horse, and the two form a special bond.  Ranch life is covered in detail, how horses are broke in, the different roles they play on a ranch, the high esteem cowboys have for the animals, and all the specifics of the jobs that they do.  Clint's one great worry is that he will lose Smokey, a fear that is realized but resolved when one of the owners of the ranch tries to take Smokey as his own.  It doesn't happen, because Smokey will allow no one but Clint to ride him, a fact that the owner learns with painful clarity.

Smokey's reputation as a cow-horse spreads to other ranches, and offers are tendered for his purchase, but all are refused.  Unfortunately, Smokey's reputation brings him to the attention of a certain horse thief, and there begins the third section.

In the third section, Smokey and sixteen other horses are stolen from the winter range by a horse thief, who drives them over a thousand miles to the south, the desert.  The thief wants to break Smokey, and abuses him horribly.  Smokey's heart is now consumed for hatred for the thief, and when the opportunity arises, he kills him.  Smoke is later found by some cowboys, wandering the desert, who notice the blood on his jaw. They capture him with great difficulty, label him an outlaw horse, and eventually Smokey is sold to a rodeo show, where he gains notoriety as The Cougar, the horse that no one can ride, and no one does, for several years.  Eventually, all the heart goes out of Smokey, he's not consumed by hatred anymore, but he's tired, and worn out.  The rode sells him to a man who rents him out by the day to tourists and others to ride. Smokey is so popular that the owner rents him out regardless of Smokey's well-being.  He is overworked, and hurt by the thoughtless behavior of people.  Finally, the man sells him to man who kills horses and makes them chicken feed.  Smokey has a temporary reprieve from death, when a man who drives a cart around town trades his dying horse in for Smokey.  The man's intent is to use Smokey until he's close to death by starvation, and then trade him in to the chicken feed man for another horse, who will kill him.  The man is abusive and whips Smokey, who would surely die but for the intervention of Clint.  Clint gave up being a cowboy years ago, and is down south to purchase cattle for the Rocking R. Ranch. He sees an old horse being abused by its owner, realizes that its Smokey, the horse he'd been looking for for years, and rescues him, first giving the owner a taste of his own medicine.  Smokey doesn't recognize him, and Clint despairs that he ever will, but one day, after weeks of care, Smokey recognizes Clint, and there the book ends.

James wrote of which he knows, and it shows in every line of Smokey: The Cow-horse. The book is written as if a cowboy was doing the telling, using all the vernacular of the profession. Misspellings abound, but the editors made the decision to leave the words as written, and it was a good decision, even though it does make the book a bit slower to slip into for the reader.

Smokey captures a time, place and lifestyle that no longer exists, and was disappearing even as James wrote the book.  This is not a book for younger kids, I would say middle school and up to adult, and here are my reasons.

The vocabulary is specific and extensive. Unless you were raised on a ranch, or are familiar with horses and cattle, a lot of the terms are unfamiliar.  The writing style takes some getting used to, and younger kids would definitely struggle. Finally, the third section involves racial stereotyping common for the time the book was written, and requires a level of discussion beyond the elementary level.

The horse thief is section three is described as a half-breed, part Mexican, with a dark complexion, and referred to though out the rest of the story as the breed. The term is a pejorative, and the stereotypical use of a half-breed character as the bad guy in literature and society as a whole demands intelligent discussion and dedicated thought. Within James's work alone, you could compare his negative depiction of the half-breed horse thief to his positive depiction of the fictional Bopy, a Metis trapper, the French half-white-half Indian man who raised the orphan Will in the fictional account of his childhood. Why the difference?  A discussion of the challenges faced by individuals with parents of different races in current societies should be included, maybe starting with the fact that it wasn't until the 2000 census that individuals even had the option of self-identifying themselves of being more than one race.

I enjoyed Smokey, and that surprised me.  I've never been one for animal stories, was not one of the little girls who read and reread Misty of Chincoteague over and over. I've ridden a horse only once in my life, and it wasn't pretty. But, the writing is droll, and I have always loved books about friendships. This is such a book, and it is a beautiful friendship.

Smokey: The Cow-horse at Wikipedia.

So, why did James lie about his origins?

The best answer anyone can come up with is that he believed that by lying, and claiming a 100% American pedigree, that he would seem more authentic as a cowboy.  Agree or disagree with his reasoning, but that's what he did, and he paid an enormous price for doing so.

As James's fame grew, so did his paranoia over discovery. He took to drinking heavily, a move that cost him his ranch, his wife, and his health.  Other than his family in Quebec, no one, save one individual sworn to secrecy, knew the truth. James died in 1942 in a hospital in Hollywood, California, of cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure.  His will left everything to Ernest DuFault.

It wasn't until the 1965 that a writer named Anthony Amaral, working on a biography of James, dug up a copy of his will, did some investigating, and learned the truth, which he published in his 1967 biography Will James, the Gilt-Edged Cowboy. It took a while for word to get out, even after the book's publication. In the 1980 edition of Something About the Author, Volume 19, James's biography still reads as the fictional version supplied in his autobiography, despite the fact that Amaral's book is listed as additional reading.

What strikes me as sad about the whole affair is that is was so unnecessary. The Old West wasn't just a geographic location, it was an idea, an idea that claims a person's right to an identity of their own choosing, and not an identity tied to an accident of birth.  In the Old West, you decided who you wanted to be, and no one else. What would have been a better example of this than the real story of Joseph Ernest Nephthali DuFault, suburban Quebecois by birth, authentic American cowboy by choice?

I rest my case.

Will James at the University of Nevada-Reno Library

The Will James Society