A little bit about the author and illustrator of our current book, My Father’s Dragon. It’s definitely only a little bit of information since I didn’t find much on the internet – so you’ll be getting all I know!
Ruth Stiles Gannett was born August 12, 1923. I don’t know where she was born, but I do know she’s an American and she went to Vassar, which is in Poughkeepsie, New York. And I assume that, since I couldn’t find any information to the contrary, she is still alive – but I have no idea where she lives. She may well be one of my neighbors – or one of yours!
She wrote My Father’s Dragon just a few years after her graduation from Vassar College in 1944, and it was an immediate success. Nice beginning to write a Newbery Honor Book fresh out of college. She followed up with two sequels, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. All three of these dragon stories have been continuously in print in the more than 40 years since their publication.
Gannett’s other books include Katie and the Sad Noise and The Wonderful House-Boat- Train. She married artist and calligrapher Peter Kahn (who died in 1997). The couple was married for 50 years and lived in Trumansburg, NY. They raised seven daughters, who in turn gave them eight grandchildren.
The illustrations for the dragon stories were drawn by another Ruth Gannett – the author’s stepmother. Ruth Chrisman Gannett was born in Santa Ana, CA and attended UC Berkeley, receiving degrees in 1919 and 1920. She married Lewis Stiles Gannett in 1931, illustrated several of his books and then went on to
illustrate his daughter’s works, as well as another Newbery Honor Book, Miss Hickory, by Carol Sherwin Bailey. She received a Caldecott Honor Citation for My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, a story based on a Russian folk tale.
Critics praised her illustrations for their detail and charm, and I would have to agree. They are not exactly the kinds of pictures I would hang on my walls, but there is an ornate simplicity about them that definitely adds to the story.
The illustrations for My Father’s Dragon should appeal to young children, as they are full of details, but are somewhat whimsical and not overly complex.
And that pretty much sums up what I know about this family of Ruth Gannetts. I have finished My Father’s Dragon; Katie is still working on it, but we should have our reviews early next week. It’s almost time to draw the next 5 books out of the hat!
Biographical info for Ruth Stiles Gannett from the publisher of My Father’s Dragon and good old Wikipedia; for Ruth Chrisman Gannett, info from Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota)