Holly first sold her distinctive old-fashioned artwork of homespun children to American Greetings in the late 1960's. The series of illustrations became so popular that her originally nameless character with the blue bonnet became known as "Holly Hobbie".
This cat-loving girl with a patchwork dress and over sized bonnet was all the rage during the 1960's and '70's. In 1974, Knickerbocker Toys licensed the Holly Hobbie character for a line of rag dolls. (I think I may have even had a Holly Hobbie lunchbox at one time!)
The real life Holly Hobbie is the author of the Toot & Puddle picture books, The Art of Holly Hobbie (her illustrated memoir), and several others (too see a full list and read excerpts from all of her picture books click here). She's also the mother of three grown children, and lives with her husband in Conway, Massachusetts.
Last week I came across Holly Hobbie's newest book, an (almost) wordless story titled simply: Gem.
Two letters - exchanged between and a Grandmother and her granddaughter - bookend this wordless story told in lush watercolor illustrations about a toad named "Gem" and his journey to Gram's garden. It's a perfect Spring tale, and made me almost feel like I was there watching this toad's adventure.
If you like Beatrix Potter, Joan Anglund Walsh, Jill Barklem, or Tasha Tudor books, you'll love Holly Hobbie's Gem. Her precise watercolor artwork reminds me of another gifted favorite author/illustrator, whose book I'll be reviewing and giving away this month (to be revealed very soon...).