Thursday, July 9, 2009

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Old Macdonald Had a Farm
Abner Graboff ~ Scholastic, 1969

In case some of you missed it, Ward Jenkins recently conducted an exhaustive and utterly fascinating interview on his blog Ward-o-Matic with the son of the late artist and illustrator Abner Graboff. If you haven't yet, take ten minutes today to have a look at the three sequential posts. Rarely do we get to listen in on such fabulous insider information. We should all applaud Ward for his continuing efforts to chronicle the awesome but only-remembered-by-the-hardcore few. The family photographs and insight into the artist are really priceless if you are a vintage children's book or design fan. That said, it took me a few days to dig this up, but here's my tip of the hat to Abner's work for children.

When you have a child that's an animal buff, there are two stories you find yourself collecting no matter what the version. The first being Noah's Ark... the second being Old MacDonald Had a Farm. I really should do a post or two just on the wild assortment of books I have bearing those two titles. MASSIVE.

I won't patronize you by reprinting the text here. I have to assume you know it like the back of your hand. But I will say this. Abner's whimsical little line drawings... the catlike whispers of Old MacDonald... the smiley-faced animal expressions... the Model-T tooting around the farm... the fingerprint-ish chicks with wee stick legs... simple, classic and totally ticklish. There is even a little post-bath nudity on the farmer's part, but hey, that's what happens when you share a tub with a cow. Anytime I see a Graboff, I snatch it up... as I'm sure you will from now on. He was truly a treasure, that one.


Alicia Padrón said...

This is such a beautiful blog. I can feel the love for books! :o)

Edward Miller said...

Graboff is a unique artist. The simple lines and solid colors of his art create the most lively illustrations. I admire the simplicity in his bold work. One of my favorite books as a child was I Know an Old Lady Who Shallowed a Fly. I still have my yellowed Scholastic book club copy. I'm a children's book author and illustrator and a former art director for Random House. Children's book have become such high end works of art. I still like looking back when book design was simple and yet still powerful. Glad to see you featured one of my favorite illustrators.

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