Clever Humans: A Darling Illustrator

Louis Darling + Beverly Cleary = Wonder & Excellence
     illustrator            author

First, look how handsome he was.  Who knew?

So many of us had a literary love affair with Ramona Quimby.  How did such a sweet children's librarian like Beverly Cleary know how to describe exactly what a child is thinking?  Over the years, I have kept every Ramona book, rereading them annually, waiting for my children to appreciate them the way I did.
(I am still waiting.  It's hard to compete with Greg Heffley).

One of the most endearing traits of the early Ramona books are the illustrations.  Darling does so much with so little black ink.  In my favorite Ramona drawing below, just look at the motion and expression.  Was any girl happier than Ramona right after she boing-ed sassy Susan's ringlets for the last time?

My second favorite is after she's been "suspended" from kindergarten for the boinging.  I think she is kicking the walls and issuing an angry speech about the world's injustices...all of that with just a Bic pen.

Somewhere along the line (specifically in Ramona the Brave), the illustrator changes from Louis Darling to Alan Tiegreen.  At some point, Darling began writing his own books.  Maybe that's why we lost him in the Ramona series.

Tiegreen is no slacker, and I dearly love this picture of Beezus' bad haircut from Ramona and Her Mother:

However, I will be partial to Darling's Ramona forever.  He and Cleary gave us our "first" Ramona.  They introduced us to her straight black hair, knobby knees and scuffed oxfords.  There was something magical for me about a time when girls wore dresses to school, slickers in the rain and dungarees for play clothes...magical especially if you were wearing bell-bottomed jeans embroidered with mushrooms while you read.  I appreciate how each of Cleary's Ramona books were pertinent for the time in which she wrote them, i.e., eventually Ramona was wearing bell-bottoms too.

But the first books by Darling and Clearly were special and old school, and I love them for it.