Plume, Ilse 1944–

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Plume, Ilse 1944–


Born November 5, 1944, in Dresden, Germany; daughter of Richard (a lawyer) and Alice (a physician) Plume; children: Anne-Marie Alden. Education: Drake University, B.F.A., 1968, teaching certificate, 1968, M.F.A., 1970; studied printmaking at Santa Reparata Graphics Studio, Florence, Italy, 1970-71. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic.


Home—Concord, MA. E-mail—[email protected]


Iowa State University, Ames, instructor in drawing and design, 1971-72; University of Iowa, Iowa City, research assistant in art history, 1973-74; Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN, instructor in art history and slide curator, 1974-75; freelance illustrator and writer for children, 1979—. University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, visiting art instructor, 1976; DeCordova Museum School of Art, instructor, 1995-2002; Radcliffe Seminars, instructor, 2000-02; School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, instructor, 2000—; also art instructor at Rhode Island School of Design, 1988, 1989, Simmons College, 1993; workshop presenter. Exhibitions: Work represented in exhibitions since 1983, including Schiller-Wapner Galleries, 1983, solo shows at Lincoln Public Library, Lincoln, MA, 1993, 1996, other shows at Jewish Community Center, Newton MA, 1994, and School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2004; other exhibitions include ‘The Illustrator as Storyteller,’ a traveling exhibition for Caldecott Medal and Honor Books from 1938 to 1984, 1984-86; ‘Original Art: An Exhibition Celebrating the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration,’ Master Eagle Gallery, 1986-87; ‘Joy to the World: Christmas in the Children's Picture Book,’ Sharon Arts Center, Sharon, NH, 1986-87; ‘Pictures from Home: Minnesota Illustrators of Children's Books,’ Art Museum of the University of Minnesota, 1988-89; ‘Public Places/Private Spaces,’ Gallery of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1993; ‘Telling Stories with Pictures: The Art of Children's Book Illustration,’ Lincoln Public Library, 1997; and ‘Mother Nature: Women Who Run with the Muse,’ Atelier 10, Maynard, MA, 2005.


Caldecott Honor Book citation, American Library Association, 1981, for The Bremen Town Musicians; Ezra Jack Keats fellow at Children's Literature Research Collection, Minneapolis, MN, 1985.



The Bremen Town Musicians, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980, reprinted, 1998.

The Story of Befana: An Italian Christmas Tale, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1981, published as The Christmas Witch, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1991.

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 2005.

The Shoemaker and the Elves, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1991.

Lullaby and Goodnight: Songs and Poems for Babies, HarperCollins Publishers (New York, NY), 1994.

The Farmer in the Dell, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 2004.


Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit; or, How Toys Become Real, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1983.

Jane Langton, The Hedgehog Boy: A Latvian Folktale, Harper & Tow (New York, NY), 1985.

Nancy Willard, Night Story, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1986.

Charlotte Zolotow, Sleepy Book, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988.

Jane Langton, reteller, A.N. Afanasyev, Salt: From a Russian Folktale, translated by Alice Plume, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1992.

Jane Langton, reteller, The Queen's Necklace: A Swedish Folktale, translated by Tommy Olof Elder, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1994.

Jane Langton, Saint Francis and the Wolf, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 2007.


Ilse Plume told CA: ‘I've always loved children's books and was inspired to create my own when I had my daughter, Anne-Marie. My first book, The Bremen Town Musicians, was a much-loved folk tale my grandfather often told me. It was exciting to illustrate it, as it recalled many childhood memories.

"My reason for writing and illustrating is to try and touch the hearts and minds of children, and to bring some magic to their lives. I am influenced by nature, folk tales from around the world, and legends and poems.

"Each book came about in a different way. Some stories I've thought about for many years, until they came together.

"I was probably influenced in equal parts by the likes of Winnie the Pooh, Grimm's fairy tales, and Latvian folktales, which my grandfather told me.

"I'm influenced by nature and the beautiful patterns and colors it offers us on a daily basis. Also, I am influenced by textile and fabric and yarn colors and textures.

"I generally find a story I love and then adapt it and work on the artwork. I have also worked with some wonderful writers, and they have retold stories for me.

"One of the most surprising things about creating a book for children, is the fact that it takes a long time! The novice assumes that if it is a book for children, it must have been easy to create. Not so! Since the picture book format is so short (thirty-two pages), mistakes stand out more than they would in a 365-page novel.

"I have liked all the books I have created and have put all of my love and energy into their creation. They represent different times and periods in my life, rather like looking at a quilt, where the different pieces were picked and sewn for various reasons until they formed a wonderful quilt.

"Mostly, my hope is that some of the love and care I have put into the artwork will show and touch the heart of the person who looks at the book. That is all one can ask."



Ilse Plume: Children's Book Illustrator and Author, (September 28, 2007).