Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brown Bear Tells a Story


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was first published in 1967 and has been reissued numerous times particularly in its early years.

Bill Martin Jr would decide to change the text and I would create new illustrations to go along with Bill’s changes. As of today, there are four complete sets of artwork for Brown Bear, Brown Bear. The changes in the text of the book were made mostly on the last page where there is either a teacher or a mother (or a monkey in a UK edition from 1984).

Originally created for the educational market to be sold to schools and libraries only, Brown Bear was later published as a trade book to be sold in bookstores. For the most part, I was creating new art work to match the changes Bill was making. But the changes in the art work tell an interesting story as well.

In the earlier editions of this book, I was using commercially available tissue papers in various shades of color. I would use crayon and paint to add texture, but over time these papers faded and the rubber cement I was using discolored the papers and did not last as an adhesive.


Eventually, I started painting my own papers to achieve even greater texture and I began using archival quality materials. You can see these changes in the art work from these selected illustrations from Brown Bear where a history of how my style has evolved is evident.

It is also true that I created new art work for numerous other titles because the original work had faded and needed to be recreated for reprints of the books. Fortunately, using archival materials made for more long-lasting art work that we hope will last for years to come.

12 comments:

ChoxBox said...

Loved reading this. We bought the Brown Bear book just two days ago!

missy j said...

One of our favorites...of course : )

Karen said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I teach a Children's Literature course to future librarians and I will be sure to share this post. Fascinating! Hope you are having a good summer.

Carol Bender said...

One of my grandchild,Aries, favorites. We love all your books.

chewy said...

I visited the museum last week. Enjoyed it very much.

Julie Hendriks said...

It still is very modern even from the sixties. Later this year my first childrensbook is a fact, can't wait for that time!

Brittany.Ptrs said...

As a future teacher, I find this very interesting. I always enjoy hearing tidbits like this about books I will be sure to include in my classroom! Thank you!

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Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

I happen to have four copies of Brown Bear, Brown Bear in my art room. I was given our library's copy which is quite old and battered(copyright196?), I also have a smaller one that has a pink elephant I was given that one from the reading teacher(copyright 197?), and I have two that are made recently.(one for school and one for my own six year old at home)

I use the copies at school to show that nothing is ever "done", that the more you learn the better. Of course they know the book, but is always fun to see the students reaction to the pink elephant, or the Mother at the end. Thank you for the beautiful books you have given to us to work with.

LH said...

Happy 45th Birthday to Brown Bear.
Our local pre-school is 45 years old this year too and the children have been reading the book as part of our '45 year celebrations.'
Such excellent work; still enjoyed so much, by so many 45 years on.
Happy Birthday Brown Bear love from all the children at Laurel Pre-school xx

Matt Bronsil said...

I'm an EFL teacher in Taiwan, and this book is perfect for teaching a number of different ideas: colors, animals, and simple sentence patterns. My students (age 3-6) LOVE this book. I am a little more curious about the monkey/teacher thing because this popped out at my students right away.

Originally, my school did not have this book. I just started at the school and had not yet purchased it. A student brought it in with a CD/song and the kids fell in love with it. In that version, it has a teacher at the end. When I purchased the book, I didn't look at it first, began reading it to the students (who already knew the song) and we were surprised to find a monkey in place of the teacher. Needless to say, I have been known as "Teacher Monkey" ever since. I'm just curious as to whether there is a particular reason for the change from teacher-->monkey in the later UK edition. Was it just to change the text a bit to make it different? Was it something different? Either way, it made a pleasant surprise for us.