In Celebration of
An homage to the beloved
the 150th anniversary
of her birth
For the publication of A Celebration of Beatrix Potter (Warne, Nov. 1), Penguin Random House senior art director Giuseppe Castellano commissioned text and illustra- tions from more than 30 contem- porary children’s book illustra- tors. Their tributes, excerpted
here, provide the artists’ own spins on
beloved Potter tales.
Castellano explains how the project
came together: “As we know, Beatrix
Potter is one of the most admired children’s book author-illustrators of all
time. Her writing is a master class in
cadence of language; her illustrations
rival the greats. Potter was influenced by
Randolph Caldecott, John Everett
Millais, and John Tenniel. She, in turn,
continues to influence generations of
author-illustrators. And so, the idea for
A Celebration started with a simple question: Wouldn’t it be great to pay tribute
to her by reimagining her beloved characters and sharing our stories about her?”
To celebrate Potter’s 150th anniversary, Castellano asked a number of artists
to share what Potter has meant to them.
“Their unique stories and illustrations
speak to her incalculable contribution to
the world of children’s books,” he says.
“We, the stewards of Frederick Warne &
Co., feel this book is a fitting tribute to
the remarkable Helen Beatrix Potter.
The book is dedicated, ‘To Beatrix.’”
Beatrix Potter’s book The Tale of Peter Rabbit was
among my favorite picture books when I was a child.
I’ve always been fond of animals, and I love the warm,
endearing personalities she gave her characters.
Peter Rabbit was my favorite because, like me, he
was mischievous and adventuresome, sometimes
finding himself in hot water.
When I grew up, I became more interested in Beatrix
Potter. She was a shining example of a woman
making a place for herself as an artist and author in
the world of publishing at a time in history when it
must have seemed all but impossible. In the 1950s it
seemed all but impossible to me, but I jumped in with
both feet and am both thankful and still a bit surprised
that I didn’t drown.
Beatrix Potter’s mother allowed her daughter to keep a small zoo in her
nursery. My mother, hoping that pet rodents were the key to Beatrix Potter’s
success, let the five of us keep all the mice, rats, and guinea pigs we wanted.
Results were mixed. Several of us developed mouse phobias.
Mom and I, however, are still fans of Hunca Munca, the lovely mouse who
stars with her husband in The Tale of Two Bad Mice. In fact, our only issue
with the book is its title: How could such a sweet mother mouse be “bad”?
Here is Hunca Munca with her children at a dollhouse birthday party.
All illustrations reproduced with the permission of Penguin Young Readers.