I wonder if anyone else remembers the terrific "Henry Reed" series of chapter books, illustrated by Robert McCloskey.
I've mentioned to friends on several occasions how much I enjoyed these books as a kid but have yet to meet anyone else who read them. Yet they were tremendously popular at one time (maybe a bit before my time - I'm not sure).
Via Google Image Search, I managed to find scans of several of the original covers. There have been later reprints of these books with new cover art, but these are the editions I remember so fondly, having borrowed them from the library when I was in middle school.
Some years ago, when my two sons were still young kids, I found one book from the series (below) at a public library discards sale. It was a pleasure to hold it again after so many years - and even more so when I read from it to my boys at bedtime.
I must confess, I have always been drawn to any artwork by Robert McCloskey. I probably read Make Way for Ducklings when I was in Grade 1...
... and I remember reading Homer Price (and absolutely laugh-out-loud loving it) when I was in Grade 3 or 4.
At that early age, I doubt I made the connection - or a few years later, for that matter, when I read the Henry Reed series - that all these books where illustrated by the same artist. But the artwork looked comfortably familiar and that enhanced my enjoyment of author Keith Robertson's funny, engaging stories.
There are plenty of other illustrators who do more visually dynamic work. Robert McCloskey did not draw "eye candy." You could almost go so far as to say McCloskey's work is plain and simple. Meat n' potatoes art.
Be that as it may, nothing beats a good home-cooked meal... and that's how I see McCloskey's work: nothing fancy; but delicious, honest, authentic art you can sink your teeth into. And every bite leaves you feeling cosy and satisfied.
I won't go on too much further with my description, except to say that there's more than meets the eye in a typical McCloskey illustration...
You just have to stop every now and then and take a closer look. This guy did substantial, quality artwork.
Here are a few more examples from Henry Reed's Journey. Enjoy - and should you every come across these books in a used book shop, do yourself a favour and pick them up.
Henry Reed's adventures are still great summer reading...
... even after all these years.