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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Beads on a String:
The Art of Barbara Cooney

Barbara Cooney's distinguished career as an illustrator of children's books has resulted in the creation of more than 100 books. Two of her books, (Chanticleer and the Fox, 1958; and Oxcart man, 1979), have been awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal, the highest honor given for illustrated children's books in the United States. In 1993, Ms. Cooney deposited more than 400 pieces of original art from 21 of her books in the Northeastern Children's Literature Collection, a part of the University Libraries' Archives and Special Collections. Works from this collection and from the artist's private collection are shown in this exhibit.

Ms. Cooney compares a picture book to a string of beads. "The pictures may be beautiful jewels in themselves, but they don't hang together unless there is a string of them, which is the text, and that's the foremost thing".

The jewels, or beads, of Barbara Cooney's illustrations, nonetheless, are a major factor in the ultimate quality and success of the books she illustrates. The care and skill applied to each drawing or painting created to illustrate the author's text epitomize her approach to art for children. Each book is carefully researched, and each image attempts to recreate the setting, time, or character being illustrated with honesty and integrity.

Dodd Research Center Gallery

About the Artist