Elizabeth Orton Jones Big Susan
Twig Maminka's Children

In her 1945 Caldecott Medal acceptance speech for Prayer for a Child (she won the Caldecott Honor a year earlier for Small Rain: Verses for the Bible), Elizabeth Orton Jones speaks about how she does not consider herself an artist: “The very word ‘artist,’ to me, carries with it a little vision of the state of having arrived. I think of being an artist as an achievement I may work toward my whole life and even then not arrive. Though I should like to be able to say, right out loud to myself, on the morning of my 99th birthday, ‘Old girl, you are an artist!’ Drawing is very like a prayer. Drawing is a reaching for something away beyond you.”

Born on June 25th, and growing up in a house filled with music and good books, Jones was inspired at an early age to use the powers of her imagination. But it was one of her instructors in Paris that gave her a tool which would propel her career forward. He told her that whenever she was stumped, she should go to the park and watch the children. Her first book, Ragman of Paris and His Ragmuffins (1937) soon followed. Jones worked in all media including etching, printing, pastel, watercolor, gouache, graphite, ink and oil.

Ms. Jones died in 2005.

The oral memoirs of Elizabeth Orton Jones are held at the University of Oregon.

Subscribe to Fresh Bookology for FREE!

Receive a weekly e-mail pointing out articles published that week as well as curated children’s books and reading news.


Recent Articles