The Story of Harmony Lane
Naida Dickson ~ Mel Crawford ~ Golden Press, 1972
My favorite thing about this hobby (other than having hundreds of cool books to share with my son) is getting introduced to all sorts of rad writers and illustrators that I otherwise might not have discovered. Case in point, Mel Crawford. Though I've been familiar with his work on sight for years and years, I never knew a thing about him. That was, at least, until yesterday when I walked into a thrift store, put my hands on this book and was prompted to begin sniffing around. So, for those of you new (like myself) to the charms of Mel, let me fill you in with a little info I lifted from the ASIFA Hollywood Cartoon Archive.
Canadian who came to the U.S. in the 1940s to work for Disney Studios. He worked in animation for a while but disliked the repetition. He began working on backgrounds and then books and album covers. He worked on "Alice in Wonderland," "Snow White", "Cinderella," "Jungle Book," and more. He later worked for the program Sesame Street.
He illustrated some of the most awesome and memorable 'Little Golden Books' and a few stories in my favorite Sesame Street storybook. When you Google his name, hundreds of familiar images come up like this, this, this, this and this. The point is, the man was prolific (and from what I can tell from his web site, still painting and creating today). I love this guy, and I didn't even know who he was.
Bringing me to the tale today. Harmony Lane... a street that is fabulously inhabited by all forms of musician except the sort with talent. When the neighbors complain of their wailing, soundproof rooms are built and air conditioned to save the ears of everyone involved. That is until the day the electricity goes out taking the air conditioning along with it...
"My, my!" said Mr. Plunk. "It is certainly getting hot in here!" He opened the doors and windows, and then went back to his playing. Mr. Howly and Mr. Boom and Mr. Blast did exactly the same thing. So did Mr. Sweet and Mr. Slide and Mr. Voom, and Miss Twink Twank. But the noise they made was terrible. Everyone was playing a different melody, and all those tunes flew through the open windows and mingled to make a sound that was loud and strange and most unpleasant to hear.
After some loud noise making, the players get into a groove and discover when taken together, their medicine isn't half bad. Sometimes several wrongs do make a right and all we need is a little 'Turkey in the Straw' to make things OK.
The drawings here are just great and full of these wonderfully bright (but soft and almost frosty) colors. I particularly love the lines in Mel's people. (Check out the baby nurse. It's she lovely?) If you've been asleep at the wheel like myself and haven't tuned into Mel Crawford yet, do so now. It's music you definitely don't wanna miss hearing.