Simms Tabak was one of very favorite illustrators, if not THE favorite. He very recently passed away and since I find that this blog seems more and more to be about losing artists who have touched me, it would be terribly remiss to not talk about Simms.
Although I got to know his books through reading them to my youngest son, Ben, I actually got to know his art when I first used one of his designs to wallpaper the room of my middle son, Mike. That was more than 22 years ago. Sadly, I cannot find a single image to post to show that lovely wallpaper. And it has been long papered over. It do remember that it was leaping kids, a boy and a girl, doing jumping jacks or something to that effect. If anyone has any left or knows where I can get some, PLEASE contact me!
I just discovered a wonderful video created based on his Old Lady WHo Swallowed a Fly book. It is narrated and the music sung by Cindy Lauper. I think this may be the best video adaptation of a kids' book I have ever seen. It seems that I cannot embed it. But go to Youtube and watch. It is totally worth the time.
I think my very favrotie book was the Caldecott wining, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.
I think that this book is everything one can want in a children's book. It is has a page turning quality, with a lovely repetitive rhythm. It is fun. It is also beautifully illustrated, without being tight and self important and self congratulatory, not to mention pretentious, which is what so many kids' book art is. Not this book. The art has a wonderful mock-primitive feel that is actually extremely sophisticated and extraordinarily satisfying, from an artist's point of view. Any artist, even in the absence of liking kids' books, would love and appreciate this artwork. The art stands completely on its own. To be honest, a lot of art for kids' books may hold up in the children's book market, but would fall flat as art for art's sake. Tabak's art soars way above that crowd.
By the way. if you go to his web site, you can buy a signed poster. The proceeds are going to a college fund for his grandchildren. Satisfy your need to have his wonderful art, and also help out. I bought a few, this wonderful fish poster among them.