Although Marguerite Henry’s horse books are favorites with children, it can be argued that they would not be as popular without (John) Wesley Dennis’ beautiful paintings. Born in Massachusetts on May 16, 1903, Dennis worked as a magazine ad illustrator while he was going to the New School in Boston. He then traveled to Paris to study with L.D. Luard, an artist who was well-known for painting horses in motion. His love of animals, horses in particular, and his exceptional art was combined in more than 80 children’s books, 15 of which were for Marguerite Henry. The author saw Dennis’ early work and wrote to him, asking if he would consent to work on Misty of Chincoteague with her. The creative team won a Newbery Honor for the book in 1948. In 1946, they were honored by the Newbery Committee for Justin Morgan Had a Horse. King of the Wind received the Newbery Medal in 1949. The books were originally published by Rand McNally in Chicago, but are today on Simon & Schuster’s backlist. Mr. Dennis died in 1966.
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