The visual half of the story

Half Magic doesn’t have a lot of illustrations – just enough, I think.  The kind of book that has an illustration at the beginning of each chapter, and then one somewhere within the chapter.  The artist for this story is N. M.  (Niels Mogens) Bodecker, born in 1922.  He was raised and educated  in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he eventually worked as an editorial assistant for an art magazine, wrote two volumes of poetry, and drew a political comic strip for a  Copenhagen newspaper.

After World War II, Bodecker emigrated to the United States, where his artwork was clearly well received, since for many years, his illustrations appeared in Harper’s magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and Holiday.  He lived for 20 years in New York City and Westport, Connecticut, before moving to Hancock, New Hampshire, where he lived the rest of his life (he died at age 66, in 1988).








Bodecker also illustrated books for adults and children’s books by other authors, but he was best known for the many children’s books that he wrote and illustrated himself.  Among his honors were two Christopher Awards for poetry, in 1974 and 1976.   Much of his poetry consisted of nonsense rhymes – books with lovely titles like, ”Let’s Marry Said the Cherry” and ”A Person From Britain Whose Head Was the Shape of a Mitten.”  An example of his poetry, from “Pigeon Cubes and Other Verse (1982):  In giving children “Traffic Rule I”, he says:  “One traffic rule we all obey: the Mack truck has the right of way.”  A good rule to live by, I’d say.

His drawing style is very familiar to me, and I assume it’s because my mom used to get a lot of magazines.  They’re the kind of drawings that were always interesting to me – a lot of detail, and friendly-looking people with expressive faces.  It’s a nice style for a children’s book – simple, but lots to look at.  He conveys a good bit of information about the characters with his simple line drawings.  The pictures are serious and humorous all at the same time.



As you may notice from our “currently reading” blurb, the cover art on our paperback is by a different artist – Quentin Blake – maybe the publishers are trying to make it look more modern?   I like this cover art also, but I was a bit surprised when I opened the book and saw the illustrations – I think I would prefer that they match.  Still, if some focus group decided that the other cover would tempt more kids to read the book, then maybe that’s okay, since it’s well worth reading.



One response to “The visual half of the story

  1. Margaret Zibelman

    Quentin Blake is a fine artist, but the original art should grace the covers of Edward Eager’s books. I was enchanted with the stories, but equally with the illustrations. I loved the look of the characters, especially the profiles of the girls, so much so that their names and images stayed with me and I named one daughter, “Lydia.” Eager’s characters were full of personality and Bodecker’s depiction of them was, too. I think the publisher should revert to the original covers.

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