Gary and Vesta Smith
illustrations by Fred Crump, Jr.
When I first thrifted this book, the drawings immediately made me think of Don Martin, the famed Mad Magazine cartoonist. Digging a bid deeper, I came to find out the artist was a local Texas boy, children's book author and high school art teacher who made a name for himself toward the end of his career by penning wildly-vibrant fairy tales and princess stories with an African American slant. I have to imagine this was one of his earlier books, as it --and a few others by the same authors-- were published by a small house out of Austin, Texas.
Meet Leander. A lion with a bit of a hair issue...
Leander, like all lions, was a strong, fierce, ROARING lion. But... he had a little problem... CURLS! Lots of curls! His curly mane made him the joke of the jungle.
The other lions called him Goldilocks. The giraffes giggled at him. The monkeys tugged at his locks, and even the stinky old rhino had a good laugh at his expense. It isn't until his friend (and hair stylist) Philbert Parrot tries a mud wrap on his head that leaves him soaked and sad, that he steps on some electrical wires, shocks himself silly and falls into the life of a Hollywood movie star. Not a ton of realism here, but the funny peach cartoons make up for it.
I didn't find much online in my search for the illustrator, but I did find a rather heartfelt blog post by a former student of his. (I am particularly tickled by his description of Mr. Crump's I heart Madonna pin.) All I can say is, no matter what he did in his life professionally, to have someone remember him as fondly as this says a lot about what an awesome guy and teacher he must have been. Makes me hopefully that there are people out their mentoring a new generation of artists at this very moment. Exciting to think about.
(As always, if anyone has the original cover art, hook us up!)
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