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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Little Green Witch - Martha Alexander

I have meant to post here some information about ALA midwinter in San Antonio and will do so eventually but today I must put here news of the passing of a favorite illustrator/author. I have loved Martha Alexander's Blackboard Bear books for decades. I had, honestly, thought she had retired from illustrating books and then this fall I came across a most delightful book The Little Green Witch by Barbara Barbieri McGrath (Charlesbridge, 2005) — a Halloween take-off on "The Little Red Hen."

Martha Alexander, an illustrator and author of nearly fifty children’s books (three of which are set to be reissued by Charlesbridge in coming months), died on January 31, 2006. She was 85. Homer, Alaska named her as a "former" resident and reported that she died in Honolulu, Hawaii, of complications from a stroke. "A children’s book author and illustrator, she was known for her ability to tap into the emotional world of a child with her soft pencil-and-watercolor illustrations. Alexander was already a grandmother when she started her career in children’s books. This career was to span the next 40 years."

From the Children's Book Council site at

Her first book as illustrator was Charlotte Zolotow's Big Sister and Little Sister (Harper); her first work as both author and illustrator was Out! Out! Out! (Dial, 1968). She went on to publish over fifty children's books, including the popular Blackboard Bear series (Dial/Candlewick). Three of Martha Alexander's Dial picture books will be reissued by Charlesbridge this year: When the New Baby Comes, I'm Moving Out; Nobody Asked ME if I Wanted a Baby Sister; and I'll Protect You from the Jungle Beasts. Despite failing eyesight, she remained dedicated to her craft and was working on a new picture book at the time of her death.

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