Children's book illustrator Marcia Brown died April 28 in Laguna Hills, according to publisher Simon & Schuster, the New York Times reports. Brown was a three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, her field's greatest honor.
Often, Brown worked with fairy tales or classic stories in translation. She was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1983 for "Shadow," a translation and adaptation of "La Féticheuse" by Blaise Cendrars; in 1962 for "Once a Mouse," a retelling of an Indian fable; and in 1955 for "Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper," translated from a version by Charles Perrault. Additionally, she was given the Caldecott Honor (runner-up) six times.
"I think a good story is a good story. If you could write it yourself, fine. If you can’t, you find a good story that you relate to and put all you have into it," she said in a 1994 interview.
During her career, Brown's work, which included a variety of artistic styles, was discussed alonside other 20th century innovators of children's books, such as Ludwig Bemelmans, Leo Politi, Jean Charlot, and Maurice Sendak.
Brown was born July 13, 1918, in Rochester, N.Y., to parents who encouraged her artistic impulses. She attended New York State College for Teachers to earn a degree and spent two summers studying with Judson Smith at the Woodstock School of Painting.
In the 1940s, she taught high school and then worked as a librarian in the Central Children's Room in the New York Public Library. She published her first book, "A Child's Chistmas," in 1942, although it was 1946's "The Little Carousel" that brought her significant attention and 1947's "Stone Soup" that cemented her reputation.
She was curious about other cultures, their histories and art. In the 1950s, she taught in Jamaica; in the 1980s, she traveled to China to study calligraphy and painting.
"I feel somewhat like Joseph Campbell: that we’re on the top of a big pyramid and the apex is at the bottom and all peoples have similar emotional and psychological problems – reactions to the world, to death, to these great big forces in life – and they express themselves differently up here on the surface but basically man is man, and he has very similar problems way down there at his beginning," she said in 1994. That interview was conducted in Tokyo, where she was traveling and speaking about her work.
She is survived by her longtime companion and editor Janet Loranger.
In 1972, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Every child deserves some Marcia Brown books."
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