Seeger, Ruth Crawford
Barbara Cooney and her twin brother were born on 6 August 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, in the Bossert Hotel. She grew up on Long Island, but spent her summers as a child in Maine. Cooney attended a boarding school as a child. Cooney graduated from Smith College in 1938 and studied lithography and etching at Art Students League in New York. Just one year after graduation, she had her first commission, the illustrations for Ake and His World by Bertil Malmberg.
Recalling an earlier trip to Germany before the war and the horrors that she had seen there, she felt compelled to join the Women's Army Corps during the summer of 1942. She enrolled in officer training and achieved the rank of second lieutenant, but was honorably discharged the following spring because of marriage pregnancy. The couple bought a farm in Pepperell, Massachusetts where they ran a children's camp during the summer months. By this time, Cooney was illustrating several books a year and wrote one now and then. It was for her adaptation of Chaucer's The Nun Priest's Tale that she won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, the highest honor given for illustrated children's books in the United States, in 1959. Twenty-one years later, Cooney again won the Caldecott Medal for Ox-Cart Man written by Donald Hall.
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. Miss Rumphius won the National Book Award in 1983 and inspired the creation of the Maine Library Association's Lupine Award.
Cooney died on 14 March, 2000 at the age of 83. Her last book was Basket Moon published in September of 1999.
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