A book called The Enchanted Schoolhouse, by Ruth Sawyer, ended up on my desk the other day. I am familiar, just a little, with Ruth Sawyer. She is one of those Maine authors (making her confusing, here, as she could be filed in several different areas: local authors, juvenile fiction, etc.). I am pretty sure I read a book or two of hers way back in the day. But, it’s been a long time.
I picked this one up and flipped through the pages, and was struck by the illustrations. They looked oddly familiar.
from The Enchanted Schoolhouse:
I thought for a minute, and then realized who it was: Robert McCloskey, you know, of Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Make Way for Ducklings fame.
Aha, I thought. That’s it. He’s the illustrator. And, furthermore, I thought, it totally makes sense. He’s a Maine author [illustrator], and she is, too. I flip to the front to find the credits and confirm my realization….
Only to be proved wrong. Illustrator: Hugh Troy. Hugh Troy? Who the hell is he? And, how can I be wrong???
I flip a little more, and discover this dedication.
*Robert McCloskey was the father of the characters he wrote about in so many of his books, Sal and Jane.
*Ruth Sawyer was the grandmother of those very same girls.
*Ruth Sawyer is not McCloskey’s mother. Why, you ask? A little Wikipedia research, and, later, further study of some of the other books we have here of hers, reveals she is the wife of some guy named Albert Durand.
I finally come to this conclusion: Ruth Sawyer must have had a daughter who married Robert McCloskey, and was then Sal and Jane’s mother. Phew.
A few more pieces of Ruth Sawyer trivia:
*She’s actually pretty famous, at least in my book-award-world view. Won the Newbery for a book called Roller Skates, in 1937.
*The library has at least five books of hers, in addition to The Enchanted Schoolhouse:
A Cottage for Betty
The Little Red Horse
I think I will try to get Alden going on reading some of these. They look like the kind of books he might like…
I still don’t know the answer to the question that started me on all of this: why do the illustrations in this book look so much like McCloskey’s?
Maybe it’s just me; maybe it is that pen and ink style; maybe McCloskey was influenced by Troy (I’m assuming he’s younger, given the family/generation conclusion I came to). If so, interesting then that McCloskey became so famous, and I’d never heard of Hugh Troy.
One last thing: another book of Sawyer’s, Daddles, illustrated by a third person – Robert Frankenberg, also has slightly familiar looking drawings. Maybe it’s just the time period they were all working in…