Happy Birthday to Leo Lionni! After reading about Mr. Lionni's life, I understand the yearning for peace and acceptance that comes across in all his stories...
Known internationally as a designer, author, illustrator, and graphic artist, Leo Lionni (1910-1999) lived in Italy until coming to the United States in 1939. Many of his stories are a reflection of what he had witnessed during the rise of fascism in Europe.
With SWIMMY, his third book (published in 1963), he discovered a talent for creating original animal fables - with life lessons that delighted young children. His gentle characters are cute and endearing; and his collage art influenced later artist-authors like Eric Carle and Ezra Jack Keats. In all, Lionni wrote and illustrated 40 children's books.
Some tales are so poignant, and gently told, they almost make me cry. That's how I feel about Leo Lionni's storytelling. For example, in TICO AND THE GOLDEN WINGS, a wingless bird, "Tico" wants a pair of golden wings more than anything so he won't be different from the other birds. When his wish is granted, his friends become envious of the wings of gold and turn against him. Finally, by helping others, he earns real wings and the friendship and respect of his fellow birds.
My kids' favorites:
INCH BY INCH (Caldecott Honor)
SWIMMY, (Caldecott Honor)
FREDERICK (Caldecott Honor)
GERALDINE, THE MUSIC MOUSE
ALEXANDER AND THE WIND-UP MOUSE (Caldecott Honor)
A COLOR OF HIS OWN
TILLIE AND THE WALL
FISH IS FISH
Leo Lionni died in 1999, at the age of 89.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LEO LIONNI'S LIFE AND BOOKS, GO TO "100 YEARS OF LEO LIONNI": www.randomhouse.com/kids/lionni/gallery.php (great website!)