|About Florence and Wendell Minor|
as written by Florence Minor
My journey to becoming an author of children's books probably began long before I was even aware of it. As a very young child, one of my favorite pastimes was reading, and that love of reading continued to grow as the years went on. In fact, I recently realized that it was reading HEIDI as a child that inspired me to travel to Switzerland after graduating from college, to see with my own eyes the beautiful Alps and landscape that I had imagined all those years before.
Writing has always been another favorite pastime. From writing compositions for school to writing letters to friends and family, and even keeping a dream diary, I always loved putting my thoughts on paper. And, in retrospect, I can see that many of those early compositions and certainly the long letters I wrote, told stories.
Following graduation from college, my career path took some unlikely turns, although, in retrospect, they all led to the place where I am now, working with my husband Wendell to create books for young people. My years as a film editor for the news division of ABC television helped hone my skills as an author and as an editor of books.
Moving from Manhattan to rural Connecticut was the catalyst for my growing interest in children's books. Wendell had already been working in publishing for many years, and having left my film career behind in New York, I began to work with him in the studio. Handling the business end of the studio was certainly part of what I did, and still do, however, the creative aspect of helping to research and edit Wendell's books, led to more and more of a full time involvement in our full collaboration on books.
Wendell's commitment to children's books stems in large part from the fact that his grade school years were not easy, because of his difficulty with reading. Then, as now, drawing and painting came easily to him, but reading skills developed later. Once they did, he found that history, biology and the natural world were among his favorites, and the books he creates for children today point to those interests.
Wendell and I share an awareness of the importance of books in the lives of young children, and since today's children spend so many hours on computers and video games, we want to share with them something that we feel very strongly about, which is good books. We also share a love of the outdoors and animals. After spending any afternoon with my 4 year old niece, Adrianna, the idea for If You Were a Penguin was born. Adrianna told us how much she loved penguins, and it was then that we decided how much fun it would be to do a book about penguins for Adrianna's age group. We wanted to create a book that would be realistic in both imagery and text, to give children an idea of where the different species of penguins live, and some of the things they actually do. Knowing how many children struggle with reading, I used a simple, rhyming text that they would enjoy listening to and hopefully be inspired to read on their own. Wendell then created appealing and humorous pictures that are also educational, since the images are based on real penguins.
It is a joy to help children unlock the world around them through books, and making this our life's work is very fulfilling for Wendell and for me. We both feel that the enjoyment of reading is the key to the future of every child, and we are dedicated to creating books that will entertain, teach and inspire them.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT WENDELL MINOR
Wendell Minor is a traditionalist and a romantic. He has had a romance with America since his childhood in Aurora, Illinois, and as he explores more regions more closely, his love of the country grows with a vision that celebrates the beautiful, the lyrical. After completing his studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, Wendell began creating original designs for book publishers in New York City. His cover illustrations have enhanced over 2000 works, among them, the covers of bestsellers Truman by David McCullough, The Prince of Tides and Beach Music by Pat Conroy, Fried Green Tomatoes and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Julie's Wolf Pack by Jean Craighead George, Alaska by James Michener and Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry.
Wendell draws upon his lifelong affinity for environmental issues to create illustrations for children's books, which he finds especially satisfying, as they allow him to combine his love of the outdoors with his independent pursuits - including painting the landscape from life, in the tradition of classic American painters such as Homer, Hopper and Wyeth. His wish is to inspire children to go out into the fields, woods and mountains to see wildlife in its natural habitat and to give the children a positive perspective about the beauty that abounds in the world. Happily, the poets and authors whose words he illustrates share his deep respect for the natural world.
If you were a penguin . . .
You could swim really fast and toboggan on ice.
Sing a happy duet, once or twice.
You could live on land but dive under the sea.
There's a lot penguins can do, just like you and me!
Wendell and Florence Minor create a charming tribute to all the playful fun and activity that comes with being a penguin—which young readers can delight in too!