Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Birthday Wishes for Leo and Diane Dillon

Leo and Diane Dillon are known for their outstanding body of work in illustrating children's literature. Born 11 days apart in 1933, Leo on March 2 and Diane on March 13, they met at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and married in 1957. They are the only recipients of back-to-back Caldecott medals, for the works Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions (1977) and Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (1976). In 1997 they celebrated their 40th anniversary and completed their 40th book together, To Every Thing There Is a Season, a beautifully illustrated version of passages from the Book of Ecclesiastes. I wonder what the 50th anniversary will bring this year?

Here is an excerpt about them from Embracing the Child.
There are two major messages the Dillons want to convey. The first is that all people, whatever their culture or race, experience the same things. "We all have a lot in common. It is our beliefs that divide us. We have little control over what life brings us but we can change our thoughts." The second is that since the beginning of history, people have expressed themselves in wonderful and unique ways. "Art in its many forms has survived to inform us of lives long gone. Art inspires, lifts our spirits, and brings beauty to our lives. We wish to pay homage to it and the people that created it."
Nowhere are these ideas more apparent than in To Everything There is a Season. Each passage in the book is accompanied by artwork from one of 16 different cultures, Celtic, Egyptian, Japanese, Mayan, Green, Indian, Medieval European, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Russian, Aboriginal, Inuit, and Arab. This is a book that truly captures the similarities and differences that all people share.

So, happy birthday, Diane, and happy belated birthday, Leo. May you have many more years and beautiful books together.

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