Posted on May 18, 2018
Did you ever read about a badger named Frances?
Well, the beloved Frances books were written by a man named Russell Hoban. And except for the first book (Bedtime for Frances), which was illustrated by Garth Williams, all the Frances books were illustrated by today's famous birthday, illustrator Lillian Hoban.
And, yes, the two have the same last name. And, yes, they were related: Russell and Lillian Hoban were husband and wife.
Actually, the two worked together on writing and illustrating a lot of other kids' books as well. And of course Lillian Hoban illustrated books written by herself, and other authors! All told, Lillian Hoban published 326 works, in 1,401 publications, in 11 languages.
A family affair...
Although the first Frances book was based loosely on a next-door neighbor child, the Hobans used experiences from their four children as inspirations of their Frances stories. Also, Lillian Hoban used her older daughter as a sort of model for her illustrations, even though of course her daughter was a human girl, not a badger! By using a model, Hoban was able to capture realistic postures, gestures, and expressions.
Even though the Hobans eventually divorced, Russell Hoban, Lillian Hoban, and their oldest daughter all worked together when they had an opportunity to convert the Frances books to I-Can-Read stories.
Illustration wasn't Hoban's only art...
Here's an unusual thing: Lillian Hoban always wanted to be an artist / illustrator, but when she got married and moved to New York City (the hub of U.S. publishing biz), she gave up art to concentrate on dance!
She studied dance at a special dance school for 10 years, she danced professionally, she did choreography, and she taught dance.
But eventually Hoban's original passion - illustration - came to the fore once more.
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(3rd Friday in May)
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