Benes, Rebecca C. 1939-
Benes, Rebecca C. 1939-
Born July 20, 1939, in Charleston, WV; daughter of Herman (in business; an insurance broker) and Dorothy (a homemaker) Casdorph; married Richard Benes (a developer and general contractor), July 1, 1961; children: Hunter, Reid, Craig, Graham. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Denison University, B.A.; University of Denver, M.A. (librarianship); University of Colorado, M.A. (English). Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: "Liberal Christian."
Writer. Worked as librarian, art gallery owner, and adjunct professor of English and children's literature. Denver Public Library Friends Foundation, past trustee; Auraria Library Development Board, member.
Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association, and Caroline Bancroft Western History Honor Award, Western History and Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library, both for Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children's Editions.
Rebecca C. Benes told CA: "In the 1980s I owned a small art gallery specializing in original art from children's books. Opening this gallery capped a lifetime interest in children's books and folk literature. During the time I owned this gallery, I began investigating a new interest—books illustrated by Native American artists—with the belief that these outstanding children's books should not fall into oblivion. From this investigation, which took more than ten years, Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children's Editions resulted. I feel especially privileged that I've been able to work with Native cultures in my research.
"My book documents four decades of children's books illustrated by Native American artists of note. Beginning in the 1920s with the books of Elizabeth DeHuff, illustrated by Fred Kabotie, I trace the history of these classics of Indian art and Indian-centered cultural education as they developed during the thirties and forties under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and later within the context of Indian self-determination. In tracing this history, the book also brings in the bilingual aspect of these important children's books. All royalties from the sales of this book will be donated to Native American educational funds or projects.
"While I've always been interested in writers and writing, it was not until I began exploring the topic of Native American children's books that I began to understand and truly feel the urgency to write about this topic. For me it took a long time; I was a late bloomer, and I really had to find what it was that moved me enough to write.
"I've found that writing every day works best for me. As a nonfiction writer, the exhilaration of doing the research is often the engine that keeps me going and interested in my project. For Native American Picture Books of Change, doing the primary research, discovering unpublished letters and documents, traveling to and researching national archival collections gave me a profound sense of accomplishment. I'm not as organized as some writers; I didn't keep file cards. Rather, I filled notebooks and yellow legal pads with pages and pages—reams of notes. During the time I was doing my research, the Internet came of age, and it helped tremendously in my research, but I still resort to writing first on paper. Also, because of the convenience of copy machines, I have hundreds of files with copies of documents."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Horn Book, September-October, 2004, Barbara Bader, review of Native American Picture Books of Change: The Art of Historic Children's Editions, p. 609.
Library Journal, July, 2004, Anne Marie Lane, review of Native American Picture Books of Change, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 2004, review of Native American Picture Books of Change, p. 188.