Thu October 28, 2010
A New Book from the Celebrated Illustrator-Author Maira Kalman
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, we hear from the prolific illustrator-author Maira Kalman, whose many books include "The Principles of Uncertainty," "What Pete Ate from A to Z," and the bestselling "Elements of Style Illustrated." Also known for her New Yorker magazine covers --- and for such beloved children's books as "Max Makes a Million" and "Chicken Soup, Boots" --- Kalman has recently released an engaging new book that brims with vivid illustrations, and that memorably combines personal memoir and American history. It's called "And the Pursuit of Happiness," and here's most of a starred review of this title that appeared in Booklist: "First published as an illustrated, 12-part blog in the New York Times, artist-author Kalman's wonderfully idiosyncratic meditation on democracy is now available in a single volume. Despite its original episodic publication, the book coheres beautifully in terms of both artistic unity and the careful evolution of its overarching theme. Each chapter --- beginning with the January inauguration of Barack Obama, an event that was the catalyst for the book --- represents a month of Kalman's yearlong quest, which included visits to both coasts. Thus, the month of February is devoted to her loving celebration of Abraham Lincoln; March to 'the essence of democracy, the town meeting;' and so on to December, which concerns George Washington and, finally, a tender and loving evocation of happiness itself. Kalman's art and its wonderful interaction with her hand-lettered text is every bit as idiosyncratic as her approach to her subject, and the result is an achievement that evokes her widely praised picture-books for children. Sprinkled among her art --- as always, evocative of Matisse --- are photographs, whose realism offers a nice counterpoint to her more stylized drawings." Also on today's show, with Halloween just around the corner, our commentator Mark Darrah offers a story about a moonlit stroll in search of a ghost.