The illustrations of Robert Lawson

Ferdinand the Bull was popular from the day his story was first told, written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. Lawson’s black-and-white drawings were strong, evocative and beautifully detailed, such that the reader could feel the bull’s startled reaction to sitting on a bee and imagine the cavernous arena into which Ferdinand would be led.

Well, Lawson drew much else, and, since his drawings are out of copyright in Canada (though not elsewhere, so Nestlings Press can mail copies only to Canadian addresses), it was decided to compile some of his best illustrations. From Ferdinand to Mr. Popper covers not only The Story of Ferdinand and Mr. Popper’s Penguins, but also such classics as The Crock of Gold, The Prince and the Pauper and Aesop’s fables. It covers books that Lawson wrote as well as illustrated: They Were Strong and Good, Rabbit Hill, Ben and Me (written from the point of a view of a mouse who lived in Ben Franklin’s hat), I Discovered Columbus (in which a parrot tricks Christopher Columbus into sailing to the New World), and Country Colic, a witty anti-valentine to the country living Lawson enjoyed with his wife in Westport, Connecticut.

Lawson’s work was well recognized during his lifetime. He is still the only winner of both the coveted Newbery Award and the Caldecott Award in the United States, for best children’s literature and best children’s illustration respectively. Nestlings Press hopes this gathering of his terrific drawings will please his fans and introduce others to his work. That it includes snippets from his writings is a bonus. From Country Colic: “The cow’s sole ambition in life is to be on the other side of any fence which confronts her. Barbed wire and electrified fences have been tried as barriers, but so slow are the cow’s mental processes that she frequently pushes the fence down and escapes before the pain of barbs or electricity has communicated itself to her brain.”