Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Diane Stanley really takes the research process of her illustrated biographies for children seriously - and has fun in the process!  Her husband, Peter Vennema is co-author of many of her books because he does much of the preliminary library research for the material most pertinent to her chosen subject.  They then read the material, with Peter giving his input and later helping with editing. This husband and wife team travel together and visit different countries as part of Diane's research for her latest upcoming book. She enjoys visiting where her subjects lived and walking where they walked (if possible!)

Diane got interested in writing for children after receiving her Masters Degree in 1970, getting married, and becoming a mother.  She says:
Suddenly everything changed.  Though I continued to work as a freelance medical illustrator, my heart began to move in a different direction. As I spent hour after hour, cuddling with my kids on the couch, turning the pages of a book, I kept thinking: "This is what I’d really like to do. This is important." Children’s books combined art, writing, and design, all things I liked to do. More important, they opened the minds of young readers and helped bring families together. I wanted to be a part of something like that.

Diane's picture book biographies make great read aloud stories for children ages 7 and up.  Her illustrations are full-color  Gouache paintings.  Here's a sampling of some of her beautiful work...

Peter the GreatPETER THE GREAT  Peter was ten when he became the crowned tsar of Russia.  He eventually achieved his goal of bringing modern change to Russia (not all welcome) that he learned from visiting Western Europe.  He also built a naval port and a new glittering capital city, St. Petersburg, on what had been a swampy wilderness.  Detailed illustrations of the people and countryside of Russia.

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare

BARD OF AVON:  THE STORY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Using the few facts actually known about William Shakespeare, Diane has done a wonderful job of drawing us into Shakespeare's Elizabethan world of theater, actors, politics, and his plays.

Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations

CHARLES DICKENS:  THE MAN WHO HAD GREAT EXPECTATIONS Gorgeously illustrated book about one of the world's best loved writers, with accurate portrayals of 19th Century fashion, architecture, and design.

Go to Diane Stanley's website to learn more about her and see more of her wonderful books.

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