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Dahlov Ipcar

Dahlov Ipcar and Islandport Press but this changed in 2008, when Islandport Press began to recreate some of her most iconic titles in large-scale, hardbound, heirloom-quality editions. Ipcar’s books are works of art so great care went into combining new digital technologies with the highest-quality printing processes to reproduce her illustrations with the vivid colors, distinct forms, and captivating details of the originals. When Ipcar was creating art for her books, she was restricted by printing processes of the day. Islandport Press has remastered the art, working closely with Ipcar to produce colors more true to her imagination, as well as adding fresh dePhoto: Dahlov Ipcar in her studio, photo by Pat Jones

I think as an artist, not as a writer, I think in terms of pictures. I think of something I would like to paint, and I write a story to go with it.

signs, updated fonts, and new dust jackets. Dahlov Ipcar has been writing and illustrat-

To date, Islandport Press has re-released

ing children’s books since 1945, when she

eight of Ipcar’s previously published picture

created the pictures for Margaret Wise

books and has also created four new board

Brown’s The Little Fisherman. She went on

books with original text, written by Ipcar,

to write and illustrate more than 30 of her

using an array of illustrations gleaned from

own original works. Beloved by generations

her lifetime of artistry. These books are a

of children around the world, most of her

new generation’s introduction to the vibrant,

books were no longer in print by the 2000s,

imaginative art of Dahlov Ipcar.

PO Box 10 Yarmouth, Maine 04096 Ph: 207-846-3344 books@islandportpress

Out to Sea The Little Fisherman, originally published in 1945, is the first book Dahlov Ipcar illustrated. Nurtured and encouraged by her parents, the renowned modernists William and Marguerite Zorach, she had already become a successful artist, but for years she had also been interested in writing and illustrating children’s books. Her chance came when she was contacted by publisher Willam R. Scott, who had decided to use more modern art for his children’s books and wanted to experiment with young artists. He asked Dahlov to do a sample for the text by Margaret Wise Brown, author of The Runaway Bunny and, later, the classic Good Night Moon. Scott liked Ipcar’s illustration of the fishermen’s boats sailing out to sea, followed by seals and fishes, and he commissioned her to do the book, jumpstarting her long career in children’s literature. The illustrations in The Little Fisherman— bold, graphic, and full of motion and detail—are strongly inspired by the seaside culture that was, and is, part of Ipcar’s everyday life in Georgetown, Maine. “I am surrounded by natural beauty,” Ipcar has said, “which is a continual source of spiritual

The Little Fisherman

and creative renewal.” It is a simply told “fish tale” of two fishermen—one big and one small—and how they earn their living on the sea and their lives back home with their families. Her lively illustrations— including decorative end-papers that are an encyclopedia of Maine sea life—bring vision and detail to Brown’s charming story. The book combines text and images in a way that appeals as much to today’s children as it did to its first generation of young readers.

They sailed and sailed till the land behind them was out of sight and only the sea and the sky were all around them— the blue sea and the blue sky.

On the Farm Dahlov Ipcar was raised as a city child in New York, but she loved best the summers that she and her family spent in Maine. She moved to Maine full-time shortly after she married Adolph Ipcar in 1936, and the young couple soon began to earn their living by farming. Though the early years were difficult—they had to learn everything from scratch—still, in Ipcar’s words, “Everything about farming was beautiful in my eyes.” Many of her earlier books, like One Horse Farm and Hardscrabble Harvest, are love letters to that time of family, nature, and living off the land; “the old-fashioned way of life that we lived when we first came to Maine.”

One Horse Farm

When Johnny was five years old Big Betty was all grown up as big as she ever would be and working hard on his father’s farm.

One Horse Farm tells the story of a boy and a horse who are both born on the same day and grow up together on a farm. Together, Johnny and Big Betty grow up learning to work through all the farm’s seasons: planting, plowing, mowing, cow herding, and ice cutting. But Betty grows quickly, and Johnny grows slowly. By the time Johnny is a big man, Betty is an old horse. When Johnny realizes it’s time to replace Betty with a tractor, he must decide what to do with his beloved horse. “It was the life I lived,” Ipcar has said about this heartfelt story, which is based her own experiences running a small farm in the 1940s. It was also her first major commercial and critical success; published in 1950, it remained in print for over thirty years and was her first Junior Literary Guild selection.


the c n i s e i l el

ellar, Honey in

the c


Winter is

a-coming, Home s weet ho me.

Hardscrabble Harvest In Hardscrabble Harvest, originally published in 1976, rhyming verses take the reader through, in Ipcar’s words, “All those things that can go wrong in the farm garden.” Crows peck at freshly sown seeds, ducks eat new strawberry plants, rabbits nibble on tender lettuces, and raccoons steal ears of ripening corn. All summer long, the young farm family struggles to protect their growing crops. But autumn comes at last, and the family is ready to celebrate its harvest: bushels of red tomatoes, a cellar full of apples for cider, and pumpkins for pie. In richly detailed illustrations and simple verse sprinkled with New England sayings, Ipcar tells of all the hard work that goes into making a bountiful fall harvest. “And I didn’t even mention bugs and blights and drought!” she says.

at doesn’t feel like sleepin c e h t t g. Bu

Animal Adventures “

Ipcar’s love of farming led to a deep fascination with animals of all kinds: their markings, their noises, their habits, and even their inner lives. In The Cat at Night and Stripes and Spots, the curious cats stand in for the author’s own adventurous imagination. “When you are young you learn from everything around you,” says Ipcar, and here she has created two stories that celebrate this natural ability to explore and discover. “Kids feel close to animals,” says award-winning author Dave Eggers about The Cat at Night. “There’s a natural kinship—so seeing the world through a cat’s eyes has a certain primal appeal.”

Then they walked along together through the “tangled green jungle, prowling softly through the sunlight and the shadows under the trees. ” —Stripes and Spots

Night is the best time

e likes to go exploring. h n e wh e m i et h t — l l a f o

The Cat at Night On pages that alternate between bright details and stark silhouettes, The Cat at Night depicts the journey of a farmer’s cat as it walks from the farm to the city, along a highway and through moonlit fields, farms, and forests. Ipcar sees this book, originally released in 1969, as one of several titles that engage specific educational skills—shape recognition, in this case. It’s appropriate then, that Islandport Press’s initial soft-cover version of The Cat at Night was produced for distribution to every new kindergartener in Maine in the fall of 2008. But The Cat at Night also has a unique, almost magical quality—ineffable, as “Cats” poet T.S. Eliot might say. “[In moonlight] the shadows are rich and black, strangely dramatic,” Ipcar says. “Ordinary woodlands and farms are transformed into formal gardens on some vast estate. Everything familiar is changed by moonlight.” Young readers will feel the magic of transformation as shapes shift from mysterious to familiar and back again.

Stripes and Spots A young tiger sets out on his own to explore and hunt, determined to find things with stripes. A young leopard sneaks away from his sleeping family, looking for things with spots to catch and eat. When the two youngsters meet, they join their efforts together and find that they have more in common than they first thought. Originally published in 1961, Stripes and Spots glows with the gold-and-black coats of the cats set against the deep blue-greens of the jungle. Stripes and spots appear and reappear on bugs and butterflies, turtles and toadstools, as the tiger and the leopard negotiate this new and unfamiliar world and their place within it.

a maze. You “haveArttoisstoplikeoccasionally and reconsider where you are going and why. —Dahlov Ipcar

Dahlov Ipcar entered the world

as Dahlov Zorach, born on November 12, 1917, to acclaimed American artists William and Marguerite Zorach. She grew up primarily in New York’s Greenwich Village, living a bohemian lifestyle with her parents and older brother, Tessim. The Zorach children attended non-traditional schools and were encouraged to express themselves creatively. The family summered regularly in Maine and purchased a home in Georgetown in 1923. From that time on, Maine was always “home” to her. She moved there full-time shortly after marrying Adolph Ipcar in 1936, and there the young couple began a family and taught themselves how to farm the land. Dahlov followed in her parents’ footsteps as an artist, producing broadly painted, simplified views of rural life in a Social Realist style.

Dahlov Ipcar Ms. Ipcar—I’ve been wanting for so long to tell you how dearly I appreciate your books. They are gorgeous, bold, unforgettable. I think you and Sendak are the two giants of the field, and I’m so glad you’ve made the books you’ve made. —Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

There were some remarkable successes in Dahlov’s early career as an artist: a solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, inclusion in important biennial exhibitions at the Corcoran and Carnegie museums, and major commissions for the U.S. Postal Service. But the increasing popularity of abstract painting in the American art scene soon changed things. Dahlov didn’t want to change herself or her vision—or have to live in New York—in order to compete in those trends; instead, she found more satisfaction in participating fully in the growing Maine art scene. She exhibited her work widely throughout the state, gradually developing the prismatic, colorful images of wild animals for which she is known today. With her husband, Adolph, she also took on leadership roles in arts organizations and fulfilled several commissions for public art in Maine schools and hospitals and through the American Art in Embassies program. Throughout all of this, Dahlov also enjoyed a successful second career—or perhaps a third or fourth career, if you include “farmer” and “parent/teacher”—as a writer and illustrator of books for children and adults. With this work—beginning in 1947 with The Little Fisherman and continuing with her new books for Islandport Press today—she has truly reached a national audience and has influenced generations of young readers, writers, and artists. She received her first Junior Literary Guild selection, for One Horse Farm, in 1950, followed by seven more through 1975. The culminating achievement of her career as an author and illustrator came in 1998, when she was 81 years old, with the prestigious Kerlan Award for Children’s literature. She was able to celebrate that success with Adolph, who never left her side until his death in 2003. They had been married 67 years. Today, Ipcar continues to live and paint in the Georgetown home her parents bought in 1923. “I can’t walk in the woods or go out in the fields any longer,” she says, “but I can paint.” She lives alone, but her sons Charlie and Bob visit often and help with the business side of her artwork. And of course she always has animals to keep her company, from her cat to the fleeting, nighttime visitors so often captured in her paintings and books.

Patterns in Nature As Ipcar’s fascination with animals grew, she went beyond stripes and spots to experiment with the wide variety of patterns in nature. Reacting to changing trends in American art through the 1950s, she gradually left farm themes behind and became more interested in wildlife. “I’m always looking for new animals,” says Ipcar, and to that end she finds inspiration not only in the Maine woods, but also at zoos and circuses, books and magazines, and nature documentaries on television. But when she actually paints, she does so without any aids; her remarkable visual memory records the animal’s appearance as well as a sense of its spirit. “I can portray animals in action because I see them in my mind’s eye, and I don’t have to depend on models or photographs.”

Look up at the tall tree trunks and leaves and branches. Look down among the “ ferns and dry leaves on the ground. Look closely, walk quietly, and see what you can find. ”

Animal Hide and Seek Published in 1947, Animal Hide and Seek was the first book for which Ipcar produced both the words and the pictures. Like the illustrations for The Little Fishermen, those for Animal Hide and Seek were inspired by her everyday world in Maine—the woods and fields around her home and studio. With a tranquil palette of browns and pale greens, the clever illustrations reveal and conceal the camouflage tricks of snakes and salamanders, rabbits and robins, deer and ducks. Kids will love finding the animals hidden among the underbrush.


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g t h e ir s o n g t o m e, In

my w

onde rfu

dee. a e e d deee l Christm e d e as tree, Chick-a-d

My Wonderful Christmas Tree On the first page of My Wonderful Christmas Tree, originally published in 1986, a curtain of real lace is tied back against the dark night to reveal a “sparkling, glimmering, gleaming” pine tree. The tree’s living decorations— two bears, three bobcats, four porcupines—are revealed on each page in this wild and wondrous counting book. My Wonderful Christmas Tree is a holiday classic that captures the magic of the Christmas season outdoors in Maine.

The Calico Jungle “The Calico Jungle turned out to have a surprising influence on all my later art,” says Ipcar. “I felt so inspired by the endless possibilities of patterns.” In the story, first released in 1965, a mother gives her little boy a handmade quilt. But it’s more than just a quilt; it’s a whole world where calico birds feast on bright fruits, calico elephants give each other shower baths, and calico fish shine like jewels. Ipcar first imagined the illustrations as actual fabric collages, to be photographed for the book, but the process proved too complicated. Nevertheless, the watercolors she ultimately produced set her on a new artistic path of fantastical, semi-abstract forms that would characterize both her art and her books in the coming years.

Letters and Numbers The four board books produced by Islandport Press are the only new books written by Dahlov Ipcar in more than twenty years. The simple rhymes, that she has written with her youngest readers in mind, are paired with illustrations carefully selected from her seven decades of work for children. From apples to zebras and everything in between, they are a perfect introduction to her inimitable words and images— and a sweet and satisfying reminder for parents who grew up reading her books.

Farmyard Alphabet Farm life disappeared from Ipcar’s paintings around 1960, but it continued to be a defining element of her daily life. She revisits this beloved subject in Farmyard Alphabet (2010), in which readers will recognize illustrations from One Cow Farm, Hardscrabble Harvest, The Cat at Night, and many other cherished titles.

Farmyard Numbers Dahlov Ipcar wrote the verses for Farmyard Numbers (2014) at the spry age of 96. As with all these board books, she was involved in every facet of production, choosing colors, fonts, and words with care. She shows off her sense of fun with verses like “Three sheep jump over the fence. Wouldn’t you think they would have more sense?”

r sailboat o f s i S

s, that sail all

abou t. T is f or traps. Lobst ers, watch out!

Wild Animal Alphabet Striking patterns and dazzling colors, qualities deeply associated with Ipcar’s body of work, characterize Wild Animal Alphabet (2011). Leave it to Ipcar to go beyond the usual cast of characters, from Duck-billed platypus to Ibex and Okapi. Featuring illustrations from Stripes and Spots and The Calico Jungle, among others.

Maine Alphabet Maine has been the backdrop for Ipcar’s entire artistic career, and her Maine Alphabet (2012) celebrates the iconic images she has created of the place she has lived in year-round for nearly eighty years. She also created one brand-new illustration just for the X, Y, Z pages of this special book. Lobsters, yes, but also Egrets and Islands, Sailboats and Villages are drawn from The Little Fisherman, Animal Hide and Seek, My Wonderful Christmas Tree, and more.

The Work of Dahlov Ipcar An asterisk (*) indicates a Junior Literary Guild selection

The Little Fisherman (illustrations only) by Margaret Wise Brown, W. R. Scott 1945; Islandport Press, 2009 Just Like You, All Babies Have Mummies and Daddies (illustrations only) by Evelyn Beyer, W. R. Scott, 1946 Animal Hide and Seek, W. R. Scott, 1947; Islandport Press, 2013 Good Work (illustrations only) by John G. McCullough, W. R. Scott, 1948 *One Horse Farm, Doubleday, 1950; Islandport Press, 2011 *World Full of Horses, Doubleday, 1955 Ten Big Farms, Knopf, 1958 The Wonderful Egg, Doubleday, 1958 *Brown Cow Farm, Doubleday, 1959, reprinted- Down East Books 2006 I Like Animals, Knopf, 1960 Deep Sea Farm, Knopf, 1961 *Stripes and Spots, Doubleday, 1961; Islandport Press, 2012 Lobsterman, Knopf, 1962; Down East Books, 1978 *Wild and Tame Animals, Doubleday, 1962 Black and White, Knopf, 1963 I Love My Anteater With An A, Knopf, 1964 The Calico Jungle, Knopf, 1965; Islandport Press 2010 *Horses of Long Ago, Doubleday, 1965; Whiting & Wheaten, 1968 Bright Barnyard, Knopf, 1966 *The Song of the Day Birds and the Night Birds, Doubleday, 1967 Whisperings and Other Things, Knopf, 1967 The Wild Whirlwind, Knopf, 1968 The Cat at Night, Doubleday 1969; Islandport Press 2009 The Marvelous Merry-go-round, Doubleday, 1970 The Cat Came Back, Knopf, 1971 Sir Addlepate and the Unicorn, Doubleday, 1971 The Biggest Fish in the Sea, Viking, 1972 A Flood of Creatures, Holiday House, 1973; Gannett Books, 1985 The Land of Flowers, Viking, 1974

*Bug City, Holiday House, 1975; Gannett Books, 1985 Hardscrabble Harvest, Doubleday, 1976; Islandport Press 2009 Lost and Found: A Hidden Animal Book, Doubleday, 1981 My Wonderful Christmas Tree, Gannett Books; Islandport Press, 2009 Dahlov Ipcar’s Farmyard Alphabet, Islandport Press, 2010 Dahlov Ipcar’s Wild Animal Alphabet, Islandport Press, 2011 Dahlov Ipcar’s Maine Alphabet, Islandport Press, 2012 Dahlov Ipcar’s Farmyard Numbers, Islandport Press, 2014 Young Adult Novels General Felice, McGraw, 1967 The Warlock of Night, Viking, 1969 The Queen of Spells, Viking, 1973 Adult Fiction A Dark Horn Blowing, Viking, 1978; Harcourt Brace, 1996 The Nightmare and Her Foal and Other Stories, North Country Press, 1990

Awards and Honors

Clara A. Haas Award, Silvermine Guild, 1957 Maine State Award (with Adolph Ipcar), Maine Arts Commission, 1972 Deborah Morton Award, Westbrook College, Portland, Maine, 1978 Honorary L.H.D. University of Maine, 1978 Honorary D.F.A. Colby College, Waterville, Maine, 1980 Women of Achievement Award, Westbrook College and the Junior League of Portland, Maine, 1984 Living Legacy Award, Central Maine Area Agency on Aging, 1986 Honorary D.F.A. Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, 1991

Kerlan Award For Children’s Literature, University of Minnesota, 1998 Katahdin Award, Youth Services Section of the Maine Library Association, 2002 Maryann Hartman Award to Maine Women of Achievement, 2003 New England Independent Booksellers Association President’s Award, 2010. Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze medal in Board Book category for Dahlov Ipcar’s Farmyard Alphabet, 2011 Maine in America Award, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockport, Maine, 2012 Citizen of the Year Award, Georgetown, Maine, 2013 Award for Leadership as a Visual Artist and the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, Maine College of Art, Portland, 2013 Books About Dahlov Ipcar Creative Growth: Childhood to Maturity, exhibition catalogue, Portland Museum of Art, Maine, 1970 Dahlov Ipcar: Artist, Maine Art Series For Young Readers by Pat Davidson Reef, Kennebec River Press, Maine, 1987 Dahlov Ipcar: The Seventies & Eighties, A Twenty Year Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Bates College Museum of Art, Lewiston, Maine, in cooperation with Frost Gully Gallery, Freeport, Maine, 1990 Dahlov Ipcar: Seven Decades of Creativity, exhibition catalogue, Portland Museum of Art, Maine, 2001 The Art of Dahlov Ipcar by Carl Little, Downeast Publications, 2010

PO Box 10 Yarmouth, ME 04096 Ph 207-846-3344 Fax 207-846-3955 books@islandportpress

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Islandport Press presents: Dahlov Ipcar  

Dahlov Ipcar: A brief biography of the artist and children's book author/illustrator, and her picture books and board books with Islandport...

Islandport Press presents: Dahlov Ipcar  

Dahlov Ipcar: A brief biography of the artist and children's book author/illustrator, and her picture books and board books with Islandport...