Hogrogian, Nonny 1932-
Nonny Hogrogian 1932-INTRODUCTION
American illustrator and author of picture and story books.
For additional criticism on Hogrogian's works, see CLR, Volume 2.
Although Hogrogian began her career as an illustrator using the medium of woodblock prints, her work now encompasses a variety of media, often combining several. In addition to woodcuts she uses black-and-white pencil and chalk, colored pencil and chalk, charcoal, paint, and pastels. In an article by Ann Durell in Library Journal, Hogrogian said, "Woodblocks were one of the first mediums ever used for printing pictures, and they're still perfect to print from." Her gorgeous and complex illustrations show the influence of her Armenian heritage and are praised for their delicacy, beauty, and power.
Hogrogian was born May 7, 1932, and raised in the Bronx, New York, where she lived with her grandparents, parents, and sister in a house built by her grandfather. One of her father's favorite recreational activities was painting, and Hogrogian was soon fascinated by art. She began using her father's paints and brushes when she was three years old, and she loved sitting in her grandfather's library looking at the illustrated books of romance, poetry, and fairy tales. Desiring to make illustrations like those in the books she read, art soon became the serious work of her life. During an illness as a youngster, a bedridden Hogrogian was given some Disney comics to read and soon began to analyze the drawing techniques. Realizing she could draw in the comic book style too, she imitated the Disney characters and, by virtue of this talent, attracted the attention of her classmates despite her shyness. At age twelve she began to think about a career in art, and her family also assumed she would become an artist. Unfortunately, her attempt to enter the Music and Art High School in New York was thwarted by her naiveté and shyness, but she taught herself contour drawing and studied paint and charcoal techniques with an aunt who had been a student at the Sorbonne. She also took a class in illustration at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and earned a small amount of money by painting greeting cards.
Hogrogian hoped to attend Cooper Union as an art student but again had problems with the entrance exams, so she instead attended Hunter College, as all the women in her family had done, graduating in 1953 with a B.A. in art and a minor in art history. In 1957, when she was twenty-four, she pursued graduate work at the New School for Social Research, studying with illustrator and artist Antonio Frasconi, who introduced her to woodcutting. At the time, Hogrogian was working for William Morrow putting together book jackets and doing occasional artwork. Frasconi urged her to leave her job and work full-time as an artist, and she obtained a summer scholarship to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine.
In 1958 Hogrogian became a production assistant in the children's book department at Thomas Y. Crowell Co., where Elizabeth Riley assigned her to illustrate her first children's book, King of the Kerry Fair (1960). Hogrogian later worked as an art director for Holt, Rinehart and Winston, then moved to Scribner's, where she was working when she illustrated Always Room for One More (1965), her first Caldecott winner.
Hogrogian had considered retiring from illustrating several times, but the Caldecott Award changed her life—she was finally able to become a full-time illustrator. She met David Kherdian at a reception after agreeing to do a cover drawing for a book of his poems, and she married him in 1971. Their literary collaboration was successful, resulting in more than a dozen books. Though she has had a long and successful career, Hogrogian has admitted that her harshest critic is herself. She told Something about the Author Autobiography Series, "I am always dissatisfied with my work, always left with the feeling that I must try harder the next time, that I never seem capable enough to paint something as beautifully as it deserves to be painted."
Based on an old Scottish folk song, Hogrogian's first Caldecott Medal winner, Always Room for One More, is about Lachie MacLachlan who, with his wife and ten children, was too hospitable for his own good. Shouting "Always room for one more!" he fills the house so full of creatures and individuals that it explodes and must be rebuilt. Hogrogian told Ann Durell she thought her normal woodblock technique might be "too hard for such a lyrical story," so she used cross hatching with pen and ink to make the illustrations more delicate, added a watercolor wash in black and white, and with chalk added color to the heather. "The result of this combination of techniques, of course, is complete harmony of text and pictures," commented Durell in Library Journal.
Hogrogian's second Caldecott Award was for One Fine Day (1971), a cumulative tale. In the book, a fox steals some milk, and the angry farm woman cuts off his tail. To get it back he must replace the milk, but the cow wants grass and the field wants water and the maiden with the water jug wants a blue bead and the peddler with the bead wants an egg and the chicken wants grain. Finally a kind miller gives the fox what he needs, and he goes about retrieving his tail. A critic for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books praised the illustrations, commenting on the "bold, simple compositions in soft colors, the pictures echoing the humor of the story."
In 1972 Hogrogian began collaborating with her husband, poet David Kherdian, with Looking over Hills. They have produced more than a dozen books together, including Right Now (1983), The Animal (1984), The Great Fishing Contest (1991), By Myself (1993), and Lullaby for Emily (1995). Reviewing Right Now in Language Arts, a critic wrote, "The illustrator produces a feeling for yesterday's moments of sadness with delicate pencil sketches of a little curly-haired girl. These contrast sharply with colorful scenes of action where warm hues exude a sense of happiness and well-being. Numerous circular paintings give the reader a sense of viewing the scene through a telescope."
Hogrogian illustrated her own retelling of a folk tale in The Contest: An Armenian Folktale (1976). It is about two robbers in love with, and engaged to, the pretty but flighty Ehleezah. When they discover they are rivals, they attempt to outdo each other, with results both outrageous and successful. In the end the robbers decide they are both too good for her, and Ehleezah is perfectly happy to see them go because she has yet another suitor. A Publishers Weekly critic enjoyed the way Hogrogian's "sly expressions of her characters contrast with the handsome Oriental motifs in vibrant hues," and Denise M. Wilms in Booklist was enthusiastic: "Hogrogian has outdone herself; it's a pleasure to settle down to her artistry."
Many of Hogrogian's books are retellings of folk and fairy tales. Included among these are Cinderella (1981), The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs (1983), and The Glass Mountain (1985), all by the Brothers Grimm; the Russian fairy tale The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf (1968); and The Renowned History of Little Red Riding Hood (1967), which ends with the wolf eating both Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. The Booklist reviewer for Little Red Riding Hood admired the "delicate watercolors showing a homely but winsome Little Red Riding-Hood," and the critic for Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books praised the book for its "beguiling illustrations that show a cheerful, gullible Red Riding Hood [who is] an easy prey to a shaggy, leering wolf."
Over the course of her long career, Hogrogian has built an enviable reputation for the quality and beauty of her illustrations. A typical analysis of her work ran in a Publishers Weekly review of The Glass Mountain describing Hogrogian's "singing pastels, each in a pattern harmonizing with the action at each development in the Grimm Brothers' magic tale." Another critic, in a review of Noah's Ark (1986) for School Library Journal, admired Hogrogian's "delicate, muted pictures that beautifully illustrate this biblical story." In School Library Journal, John Peters reviewed Noah's Ark, summarizing a common critical view of her work: "Hogrogian's delicate use of line and color gives her interpretation a warm, reassuring intimacy." Dana Whitney Pinizzotto, in her School Library Journal review of The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs, declared, "Full-color illustrations in ink and colored pencil or pastels are magical and deceptively simple." These illustrations were also praised by a Publishers Weekly critic: "The vibrant colors and action in the paintings hold the reader spellbound with their power to convey the emotions of players in the old, rarely retold Grimm classic." Critics also admire Hogrogian's creativity. In a Publishers Weekly review of The Animal, a book about an odd creature who visits Earth, the critic admired the "beautiful, realistic paintings in full color that she imbues with the imagination possessed by the visitor." Hogrogian is pleased by the positive reactions her works have garnered. In an article for Publishers Weekly Hogrogian stated, "possibly the greatest satisfaction [in my work] comes from taking an active part in enlarging a child's world, even a little."
Hogrogian has won the prestigious Caldecott Award twice: in 1966 for Always Room for One More and in 1972 for One Fine Day. In addition, in 1977 The Contest: An Armenian Folktale was named a Caldecott Honor Book.
King of the Kerry Fair [by Nicolete Meredith] (picture book) 1960
Always Room for One More [by Sorche Nic Loedhas] (picture book) 1965
Hand in Hand We'll Go [by Robert Burns] (poetry) 1965
The White Palace [by Mary O'Neill] (picture book) 1966
The Fearsome Inn [by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Elizabeth Shub] (fiction) 1967
The Renowned History of Little Red Riding Hood (folk tale) 1967
The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf [translated by Thomas P. Whitney] (folk tale) 1968
One Fine Day (picture book) 1971
Apples (picture book) 1972
Billy Goat and His Well-Fed Friends (picture book) 1972
The Hermit and Harry and Me (picture book) 1972
Looking over Hills [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1972
One I Love, Two I Love: And Other Loving Mother Goose Rhymes (poetry) 1972
Handmade Secret Hiding Places (nonfiction) 1975
The Contest: An Armenian Folktale (folk tale) 1976
Carrot Cake (picture book) 1977
Cinderella [by the Brothers Grimm] (folk tale) 1981
I Remember Root River [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1981
The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs [by the Brothers Grimm] (folk tale) 1983
Right Now [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1983
The Animal [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1984
The Glass Mountain [by the Brothers Grimm] (folk tale) 1985
Noah's Ark (picture book) 1986
The Cat Who Loved to Sing (picture book) 1988
A Song for Uncle Harry [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1989
The Cat's Midsummer Jamboree [with David Kherdian] (picture book) 1990
Candy Floss [by Rumer Godden] (picture book) 1991
The Great Fishing Contest [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1991
Feathers and Tails: Animal Fables from around the World [by David Kherdian] (Fables and Folk Tales) 1992
Asking the River (picture book) 1993
By Myself [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1993
Juna's Journey [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1993
The First Christmas (picture book) 1995
Lullaby for Emily [by David Kherdian] (picture book) 1995
The Golden Bracelet [by David Kherdian] (folk tale) 1997
The Tiger of Turkestan (picture book) 2002
Nonny Hogrogian (speech date 1966)
SOURCE: Hogrogian, Nonny. "Caldecott Award Acceptance." In Newbery and Caldecott Medal Books 1966-1975, pp. 179-80. Boston: The Horn Book, 1975.
[In the following speech originally delivered in 1966, Hogrogian discusses her illustrations for Always Room for One More and her relationship with its author, Sorche Nic Leodhas.]
When I told my sister the news of the Caldecott Award she dropped the telephone. My mother was speechless for at least two minutes, and various friends reacted with similar surprise. Their surprise was nothing compared with my state of shock following my telephone call from Mrs. Crossley.
The shock was soon replaced with glee, and for a long time after there was always room for another celebration or interview or speech, and my work habits "dinged down" like the house in the heather.
The sobering moment came with the arrival of a package of copies of Always Room for One More that I had ordered for friends. I spent a time examining the book to try to understand why it has received such enthusiastic approval, and after re-reading it, I realized that I could not miss with such a beautiful manuscript.
From my first encounter with her work, I have been a fan of Sorche Nic Leodhas, and I have enjoyed illustrating her books enormously, especially since recovering from my first brief failure with Gaelic Ghosts. I take great pride in doing careful research, and when Miss Nic Leodhas informed me that the bone structure of my first Scotsman was more like that of a Roumanian than that of a Scot, I was crushed. Taking a new look at my art work, I realized that he was perhaps a touch more Armenian than either Scot or Roumanian, and I promised myself that I would never make a mistake like that again. I began to study photographs of Scottish people with great care, and spent a while staring at the bone structure of a friend who hails from the Highlands. I hope he was not too uncomfortable. The result was a beautiful working relationship with my author, an author without whom I would not be standing here today.
After the publication of Always Room for One More, I received a lovely letter from her, in which she said that I "seemed to sense her very mood." How could I not sense it when she conveyed it so beautifully? She caught the essence of sharing and turned it into poetry. And I, joyfully, was able to add it to my own dimensions for a child's world. As soon as I began to read about the lovely people who filled that "wee house in the heather," my head danced with images and I could hardly wait to get to my drawing table. There was some preliminary work, all of it enjoyable: time spent in the library finding pictures of the clothes that Lachie and his friends might wear (I found costumes for all but two, the fishing lass and the gallowglass, and the author graciously supplied descriptions of them); an evening with my Scottish friend poring over slides of the cottages on the isle of South Uist to find one with a but and a ben; and an afternoon at Korvette's buying a couple of Ewan MacColl records that would help transport me to the Scotland that I have known only through words and music.
The next step was to capture the spirit of the song. Woodcuts, long my favorite medium, were too strong for the gentle folk in the heather. So I pulled out my water colors and chalks, some ink and a pen, and before long, in an almost effortless way, the drawings seemed to flow. Miss Nic Leodhas had set the mood. The rest was easy.
It is doubly nice to receive the Caldecott Medal for a book which in itself was so gratifying that it hardly seemed like work at all.
I would like to thank Mr. Melcher, Mrs. Crossley, and the Newbery-Caledcott committee for this great honor.
I thank my family and friends for their encouragement, Elizabeth Riley for the first push, all of the many people at Holt who were responsible for turning our work into a lovely book, Scribners for bearing with me through the last few months, and all of you for giving me and sharing with me my happiest of days.
Nonny Hogrogian (essay date 21 January 1966)
SOURCE: Hogrogian, Nonny. "The Story Sets the Pace: An Illustrator's View of Design." Publishers Weekly 189, no. 8 (21 January 1966): 100-03.
[In the following essay, Hogrogian describes how she became an illustrator of children's books and her approach to her art.]
The dedication in Robert Frost's You Come Too (1959) is "To Belle Moodie Frost who knew as a teacher that no poetry was good enough for children that wasn't equally good for their elders." It is my belief that this is true of all the arts, and I always keep it in mind when I am doing my work. But let me go back to the beginning.
My entrance into the children's book field was not preplanned. I was tired of carrying my portfolio with no specific direction and I was tired of being broke. I found a job as a production assistant and designer in a children's book department and leaped at the opportunity to earn a steady income, but the excitement of the work did not come right away. It wasn't until I was saturated with Elizabeth Riley's well-used expression, "the word came first," that I learned the meaning of bookmaking.
The manuscript does come first and from this everything grows. The story sets the pace, calls for a particular kind of art work, type face, format, paper and binding. It was when I began to realize how important all of these things are to a beautiful and well-integrated book, that the excitement set in.
Choosing a type face for a book is much like shopping for a dress. To use Bembo, for instance, for a murder mystery could be compared to dressing an old lady in a pink organdy pinafore. It doesn't work. Among the hundreds of type faces available, I began to notice that one in particular seemed to shine out for each manuscript. There are strong ones and musical ones, snappy ones, suspenseful ones, modern ones, quiet ones, ancient ones, and gentle ones. In the same way, one artist's work is more suitable to a manuscript than another's. The text might call for a certain kind of humor or a classic style, wash drawings, charcoal or an intricate line technique. When the illustrator accepts the manuscript, he should feel a responsibility to himself as an artist first, then to the book and the audience. In my opinion, this can happen only when the artist feels a kinship with the words. Should that not occur, then the manuscript should not have been accepted to begin with. The size of the book, the jacket and the binding should all reflect the spirit of the book. A large format for a serious longer work would not be very likely to attract the mature reader that the author is trying to reach. The color and texture of the binding, along with the size and shape, should set the tone of what is inside the book. All of these things which make up the final product have to have a common link with the manuscript. It was my job to see that they did, and I loved it.
Type and Art Must form a Unit
The only problem was that I wasn't filling my own needs as an artist. Through the good offices of my editor and a bit of my own "chutzpah" I was given a chance to try my hand at illustrating. Well, the hand shook right through the assignment but the book became a reality and a beginning for me as an illustrator. Although I was frightened at the possibility that I might not succeed, my knowledge of type and design helped me to get through my first books. With my last few projects there has been a growing sureness of what I wanted to do and an ability to explore new techniques and methods of illustrating. I know that type and art are an integral part of the whole book and if they do not meld to become a unit the visual effect of each fails.
Under-Statement in Typography
When I read Poems of Stephen Crane (1964) the first things that struck me about his work were the spareness of his words and the power of his statements. It needed a clean format with simple accents of art through the book. The type face I chose was Trump Imperial. It is crisp, sharply cut, very readable and has the strength that his words call for. Crane referred to his poems as "lines" and most of them were untitled. They had to be identified on each page, but I felt that a "running head" would take away from the impact of his lines, so I dropped the "head" below the poem and it became a "running foot." The art work, too, had to be understated, so I chose to do small, sharp black and white woodcuts that would act as the accents the book needed.
Hand in Hand We'll Go by Robert Burns (1965) was a completely different kind of poetry book. I chose ten poems to introduce the younger reader to Burns's work. It automatically called for a larger format and a more colorful book to attract them.
The typeface, Perpetua, an elegant and romantic face, seemed to fit Robert Burns's poetry. Again I chose the woodcut medium, this time because cutting into a piece of wood is in a sense like plowing the earth, and I wanted to feel as much as possible the poet's feelings when he wrote his poems.
Always Room For One More (1965), although it, too, takes place in Scotland, called for a softer technique. I decided on pen and ink, and a bit of wash and chalk to get the heathery quality I wanted.
Working with Another Designer 's Format
The White Palace (1966) is a lovely book about the Chinook salmon. It's the only book I have illustrated that I have not designed myself. It was interesting to work with another designer's format and type. Since the book takes the reader through the life cycle of the salmon, I felt the book needed a continual flow. The looseness of a wash technique seemed a natural.
At the moment I am finishing a collection of Armenian folk stories for Little, Brown called Once There Was and Was Not. A book of old Armenian miniatures that I found enchanted me. Its jewel-like quality and rich color were beautiful. I tried to bring to the illustrations the spirit of those ancient miniatures, and loved every minute of the work.
Staying with the Field of Children 's Books
The reason for my entering the children's book field was an accident. Staying is not.
I like the integrity an artist can retain in this field.
I like the research that I feel compelled to do.
I enjoy the uniqueness of each manuscript, both for itself and for the chance that it gives me to explore new techniques.
And possibly the greatest satisfaction comes from taking an active part in enlarging a child's world, even a little.
Ann Durell (essay date 15 March 1966)
SOURCE: Durell, Ann. "Nonny Hogrogian." Library Journal 91, no. 6 (15 March 1966): 1594-95.
[In the following essay, Durell examines the body of Hogrogian's work.]
I first met Nonny Hogrogian when I came to Holt, Rinehart and Winston as children's book editor after the merger of the three firms, when our juvenile list was still in its fledgling stage. Nonny was the perfect ally in establishing a picture book list, for she has the valuable gift of enthusiasm backed by skill and vision.
Nonny, I quickly learned, had the ability to find the right artist for the right book, and the knowledge of design and production to help him achieve the best possible results. It was she, for example, who asked Bernarda Bryson to illustrate The Sun is a Golden Earring by Natalia Belting, runner-up for the 1962 Caldecott Award. In 1965, seven books she had designed were chosen for the children's book show of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
During this period, her talent as an illustrator also developed. A fine arts major in college, Nonny had always been interested in painting and drawing, and when she took Antonio Frasconi's woodcutting course at the New School for Social Research, she found the medium most satisfying for book illustration.
"Woodblocks were one of the first mediums ever used for printing pictures, and they're still perfect to print from," she once said, and acted on her penchant in illustrating her first book, Nicolete Meredith's King of the Kerry Fair, in 1960.
At Holt, Nonny had already designed two books for Sorche Nic Leodhas when I asked her to illustrate Gaelic Ghosts. The author and illustrator, who already admired each other, soon established a close rapport which was instrumental to their work on this year's Caldecott winner, Always Room for One More.
Nonny does not believe in shortcuts, so in beginning Gaelic Ghosts she asked Miss Nic Leodhas for all the visual background and details she could give on each story, and did her own lengthy job of research, particularly in the picture collection of the New York Public Library. Her first illustration was for the jacket, and we all thought it was marvelous, but Nonny wanted to make sure she was on the right track as far as Miss Nic Leodhas was concerned. When she sent it off, the author thought it was marvelous too—but, unfortunately, not right for the book, since the rather roguish-looking gentleman in the black moustache was a distinctly Lowland type and the stories were from the Highlands. But Miss Nic Leodhas added, with proverbial Scots' thrift, that the jacket should not be wasted; she would go ahead and do a group of Lowland ghost tales. This was to be Ghosts Go Haunting. Miss Nic Leodhas was so delighted with Gaelic Ghosts that she asked that Nonny illustrate all her Holt books.
Nonny and Miss Nic Leodhas now have such a comfortable relationship that the author sometimes anticipates the artist's problems. In a letter to me written shortly after we accepted Always Room for One More, Miss Nic Leodhas wrote:
"Of course you do know that I am overjoyed that Nonny will be doing the illustrations. By the way, the fisher lass doesn't carry her creel flat on her head in the Spanish or Italian fashion. The creel in this case is attached to the head by a strap which encircles the forehead. I am enclosing a sketch to show what I mean. The house, of course, would be stone (no wood for building) and the roof, thatch. Everything else will be plain sailing for Nonny, I'm sure."
Everything was—except for the "gallow-glass," a description of whom Nonny was unable to turn up despite exhaustive research. So Miss Nic Leodhas came to the rescue with a two-page description complete enough to satisfy the most demanding artist.
When she embarked on Always Room for One More, Nonny was afraid that the woodcut technique would be "too hard for such a lyrical story." She had used it in The Poems of Steven Crane (1964), because his work was "sharp and clear and so are woodcuts," and in illustrating Robert Burns' poems for children, Hand in Hand We'll Go (1965), because "he is a strong, earthy poet and pictures cut from wood are so strong."
Strength, indeed, is an essential ingredient of this method of art work, in execution as well as visual result, for the artist must literally cut the picture into a block of wood. Nonny prefers pine and works with a knife, a gouge, and a chisel. After the block is cut, she proves it by hand, rolls it with ink, places rice paper over the inked block and rubs the impression onto the paper either with her thumb or with a Japanese rice paddle.
One of the mainsprings of Nonny's success as an illustrator is that she does not start with a picture and try to fit it into a book; she starts with the book as a physical entity with its own unique demands. So, in working on Always Room for One More, which required a more delicate technique, she began to experiment with cross hatching, executed with pen and ink, and added a water color wash in black and white. When she found color was needed for the heather in which Lachie MacLachlan's "wee house" was set, she used chalk for the soft heathery effect. The result of this combination of techniques, of course, is complete harmony of text and pictures.
It will be interesting to see what comes next. Certainly, each new book will be a joy, for there is always room for one more set of illustrations by such a creative and perceptive artist—room in the stratosphere of fine children's books, room in the hearts of children.
John Paul Itta (essay date August 1966)
SOURCE: Itta, John Paul. "Nonny Hogrogian." Horn Book Magazine 42, no. 4 (August 1966): 421-25.
[In the following essay, Itta describes his friendship with Hogrogian.]
Nonny isn't short for anything. Nonny is Nonny.
She is of average height and average weight, and that is where her averageness ends. Her face, her hands, her movements, as she walks and even as she sits silently working, be it on a woodcut, drawing, or painting, are quite distinctive. Or, to put it another, more meaningful way, if you met her once, you would be likely to remember her for a long time. At least that was my experience.
I met Nonny years ago when I was a student at Columbia. I have only a vague memory of the circumstances of the meeting. It seems to me it was fall, or some other time of year when the sky above takes on the same color as the soot-soaked limestone around Morningside Heights and little patches of green make you especially self-conscious about the campus, or lack of it, when visitors come. Nonny and two friends of mine were walking from Lowe Memorial to Butler Library when I bumped into them. Nonny and I were introduced, and I joined them for a stroll across the Quadrangle. I remember that my friends and I chattered away. And that Nonny hadn't said any more than hello. And I remember, as I prepared to take my leave of them, turning to Nonny and asking her specific questions in an effort to know her better. But again, her answers were in words of one syllable.
I walked away feeling a little uneasy. For though she had hardly uttered a word, she had said a great deal. With her face.
I couldn't interpret it well then. But I knew that she was commenting on everything. Little comments, reflected in a tilt of the head, a turn of the lower lip, a funny little muscle moving in her lower right cheek. Of course none of these physical reactions is unique to Nonny. But you are far more keenly aware of them in her because they destroy the startling symmetry of her face. And because they divert you from the steady stare of her eyes—large, dark, and as perfectly matched as the handiwork of an ancient Armenian or Assyrian stonecutter. Imagine the full lips on one of those bas-reliefs curling up for just a split second, then resuming their eternal expression, and you have the picture, only slightly exaggerated, of what might well be your impression following a first meeting with Nonny.
Naturally, I remembered her when we met a few years later. As we grew to know each other, I was not too surprised to discover, on the one hand, that Nonny is extremely articulate and, on the other, that she is far removed from that ancient bas-relief as you would expect the woman to be whose book was featured in Scribner's Fifth Avenue window last February.
Nonny likes music, books, movies, walking, ice-cream cones (which she is allergic to, but eats anyway), big parties, cooking (which she says she has forgotten how to do, but her applesauce cake and pheasant say she hasn't), olives (her favorite food), sewing, the mountains and the seashore, big cities and little towns, traveling, exotic foods, and lots of other little things that many other people like.
She does not like pushy saleswomen, deadlines (she is always on them), participating in sports, driving cars, ugly modern architecture (like the Pan Am building), nationalists, subways and other places where people are hemmed in, people who shout at children in public, being pressured or put on the spot regarding her feelings about things. Like most sensitive people, she pays great attention to the shadings.
Her life revolves primarily around her work and secondarily around a few individuals: her niece, her sister, her parents, and a few close friends. Their comfort and feelings occupy much of her time and thoughts. And though she is not the kind of person who would carry a bowl of chicken soup across the city when one of these people is sick, her patience and desire to help and please them know no limits.
This past Christmas, for instance, she gave birds—exquisite, jewel-like, fantastically imaginative birds, painted in colors that make nature look dull, chose beautiful old frames for them, wrapped them in delicate Japanese hand-blocked papers, and presented them to her coterie of friends.
We were all together at the time. And Nonny insisted that it did not matter who got which. But she was careful about choosing a particular package for each person, and I couldn't help noticing little differences between the designs.
In mentioning a coterie of friends, I hope no Proustian images come to mind. For Nonny is not at all like the Duchesse, who tolerated people as long as they could amuse her—as long as they remained within her highly arbitrary standards of obeisance and aloofness. Far from it, Nonny's friends are for the most part rather complicated people. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are sensitive people, aware of complications in the world. Not that any of them would get on a soapbox about anything in Nonny's presence. She would abhor it and, I am certain, remove herself quickly from the scene. Though I have seen Nonny in countless situations that would provoke paroxysms from many other people, she rarely exhibits any extremes of emotion. At the sight of a mouse, she becomes terrified, but it is a terror that freezes rather than one that unleashes hysteria. When a sales clerk tries to tell Nonny what she should buy, Nonny quietly insists on seeing what she wants and quietly leaves if it does not appear.
She faces most frustrating situations with a Griseldalike patience. Sometimes her patience is rewarded. Sometimes it isn't. But that's life. And that's Nonny.
Though I don't know her family well, their home, as felt in a dozen visits to it, is filled with a gentleness and tranquillity that I can only characterize as extremely civilized. They are happy people, at peace with life. And whereas one tends to think that artists pursue their call against many odds, such does not seem to be the case with Nonny. Her mother dabbled in painting when Nonny was a child. Her sister was an interior designer before she married. Her father to this day copies Renoir, Homer, Monet and others. (Surely there is no greater expression of love for painting than this!) You can easily imagine, therefore, what a congenial atmosphere the Hogrogian household must have provided for the budding young artist in its midst.
Her present surroundings, the ones in which almost all her books took shape, are deceptively simple. In her three and a half rooms are, among many smaller treasures, a great Dunbar chair covered in nubby blue, an eighteenth-century hired-man's bed, which she uses as a sofa, Knoll dining chairs, a Tanier teak dining table, an unornate Spanish chest which serves as a coffee table. Eclectic, individual, and very tasteful.
The backdrop to this apartment is the Russian Church across the street. Six cupolas, leading up to a dominant seventh, complete with tracery, cherubs, della Robbian-blue tiles, and pigeons. The only view that I know to equal it is the one from the Campanile, looking down on Saint Mark's Cathedral. Of course, the cupolas there are golden. And there are two orchestras in the Piazza below. But Nonny has plenty of imagination. And a great stereo set. And I have seen a misty look in her eyes when she stands by that window.
Nonny pensive at the window, however, is not a frequent sight. The more typical Nonny is looking through the window of her imagination at the evocative pictures that will grace the pages of her books.
Let me tell you what it was like to visit Nonny as she worked on Always Room for One More.
Get off the elevator at the fifth floor. Follow the strains of Scottish music—Robert Burns ballads or nippy songs from the Jacobite Wars, providing a cadence for every stroke of Nonny's pen. Ring the bell and wait. There's Nonny, in slacks and a turtle-neck sweater. You see her for a moment; then she's back at the drawing table finishing what you had interrupted, surrounded by studies of odd people with turned-up noses and wispy hair. Books about Scotland lie open on the floor. She puts down her brush and, without turning, asks, "Look at the heather tones—aren't they beautiful? I hope they will do a decent job of reproducing them." Now she turns to you and smiles devilishly. "Would you like some coffee? And some of my mother's cookies! Or would you rather have my Cousin Zaza's chocolate cake?" She knows I'll take both, along with the coffee, and, of course, her delightful asides on the whys and wherefores of her art.
I'm no kid. But I love those drawings. Just as everyone must.
ALWAYS ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1965)
Wilma Mater (review date February 1966)
SOURCE: Mater, Wilma. Childhood Education 42, no. 6 (February 1966): 374.
This humorous old Scottish nursery tale [Always Room for One More ] was once partly told and partly sung. This narrator has retold it in verse form and has included the musical notes after the text. The drawings of black line patterns with shadings of heather and grey green evoke the sparse landscape and rough woolen clothes of the Scot with complete success.
Publishers Weekly (review date 14 March 1966)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 189, no. 11 (14 March 1966): 32.
Nonny Hogrogian is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Hunter College. She studied wood-cutting under Antonio Frasconi at the New School and with Hodaka Yoshida. About Always Room for One More, Miss Hogrogian says, "It is very important for me to love the piece I'm illustrating and I have a great fondness and respect for Sorche Nic Leodhas' enchanting words. Always Room for One More was a joy to illustrate." And we are happy to add that, with no prior knowledge of the winner of this year's Caldecott award, Publishers Weekly had an article by Nonny Hogrogian in the Spring Children's Book Issue of February 21. In it she says, "The reason for my entering the children's book field was an accident. Staying is not. I like the integrity an artist can retain in this field. I like the research that I feel compelled to do. I enjoy the uniqueness of each manuscript, both for itself and for the chance that it gives me to explore new techniques. And probably the greatest satisfaction comes from taking an active part in enlarging a child's world, even a little."
WHITE PALACE (1966)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 April 1966)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 34, no. 7 (1 April 1966): 372-73.
This [The White Palace ] rendering of the life cycle of a Chinook salmon is a very successful blend of the informative and the esthetic. The author, whose verses for children have been quite well received (Hailstones and Halibut Bones and People I'd Like to Keep), has evoked the instinctual responses and urges of Chinoo, the salmon, in poetic terms which pull the reader into sympathy with the fish, as he is born, grows up in the shelter of a white palace formed by a fish skeleton, makes the treacherous journey to the ocean, courts Kima, returns home with her, mates, and then dies. The most attractive aspect of the book is the description of Chinoo's deepwater world. These are heightened by the outstanding illustrations. Very different in style from Miss Hogrogian's well-known woodcuts, they have been done with diluted oils to produce some striking aquatic effects. Although the book is based on instructive material, readers will appreciate it more because they will like Chinoo.
Elsie T. Dobbins (review date 15 May 1966)
SOURCE: Dobbins, Elsie T. Library Journal 91, no. 10 (15 May 1966): 2696.
Never has the life cycle of a Chinook salmon been so beautifully told or so exquisitely illustrated [The White Palace ]. Most people, including children, know the hard, cold facts of the strange swim of the young salmon from the small feeding streams of the Columbia River down to the Pacific, and the later struggle of surmounting the huge dam and, literally flying upstream to the original spawning ground. Here, the poetic prose transforms this dramatic story into a beautiful miracle. The illustrations in full color by 1965 Caldecott award winner Nonny Hogrogian add to this feeling. (The artist has used an oil wash technique which is just right for the subject.) Recommended for the thoughtful child who is interested in exploring all of the realm of nature.
Ruth Hill Viguers (review date June 1966)
SOURCE: Viguers, Ruth Hill. Horn Book Magazine 42, no. 3 (June 1966): 321.
Where the skeletons of two great fish formed a white palace "in frozen perfection at the bottom of the stream" a mere "sleepy sliver of life" emerged from its egg [The White Palace ]. The life-cycle story of a Chinook, the most highly developed of the Pacific Ocean salmon, is told in all its natural drama as Chinoo eludes his enemies on his long journey to the sea, and then returns through thousands of miles of ocean, up the Columbia River, and over the Bonneville Dam—reaching at last with his mate the high mountain stream where his life had begun. There the two great fish die, having "spent the best of themselves on a mighty, new generation of their kind." The writing is smooth, often poetic, and in spite of occasional slips into anthropomorphism the story moves with freshness and vitality. The stunning pictures with their exquisite designs and glorious colors—blues, greens, and tones of brown—make this one of the most beautiful of nature books.
Booklist (review date 1 June 1966)
SOURCE: Booklist 62, no. 19 (1 June 1966): 961.
An effective poetic presentation of scientific information in a picture-book story [The White Palace ] based on the life cycle of the Chinook salmon by the author of. The anthropomorphic approach endows the fish hero Chinoo with a personality and adds dramatic appeal to authentic details of his instinctive existence amid the natural and man-made hazards of mountain streams and ocean depths. The wash-drawing effect of the black-and-white and pastel-colored illustrations in diluted oils admirably conveys the atmosphere of Chinoo's underwater world.
THE FEARSOME INN (1967)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 August 1967)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 35, no. 15 (1 August 1967): 880.
Impacted writing and resplendent illustration at the service of an authentically harrowing, distinctively satisfying story [The Fearsome Inn ]: it starts with Satan and ends with heavenly light, and you believe it. For many years Doboshova, the witch, and Lapitut, her half-devil husband, have preyed upon the travelers who come to their inn; as servants, they hold captive three girls, Reitze, Leitze and Neitze. On a stormy day, three young men arrive, and one among them, Leibel, a student of the cabala, has a magic gift, a piece of chalk that will imprison anyone in the circle he draws. While the three are washing before dinner, each has a nightmare; before they can take a bite of the food that will deprive them of all will, Leibel recognizes Doboshova and Lapitut as the witch and monster in his dream. By a ruse, he locks them in a circle of chalk, and the threats and ruses of all the evil spirits of the forest are of no avail: Leibel will not free them until they agree in blood to go away forever. This done, the six sort themselves out and marry quite satisfactorily (though all three girls wanted Leibel to start with). Leibel and Neitze remain at the inn, running it as a hostel, and in time it becomes known, through his studies, as the greatest academy of the cabala. The synopsis is and is not the story: always there is ancient magic pitted against ancient mischief, and an occasional turn of the screw. The drawings have to be seen, as does the book, impeccably produced down to paper and type; the story must be read, by adults as well as children, but best together.
Margaret A. Dorsey (review date 15 September 1967)
SOURCE: Dorsey, Margaret A. Library Journal 92, no. 16 (15 September 1967): 122.
A story [The Fearsome Inn ] which lives up to the highest standards of folk literature, mesmerizing illustrations, and bookmaking of the first order all make this a book of rare merit. The inn of the title is inhabited by Doboshova the witch and her half-devil husband. Together they inflict torture and evil spells on unsuspecting passers-by. One stormy night three young men—a university student, a merchant, and a student of the cabala—find shelter at the inn. Through faith and a piece of magic chalk, the cabala student defeats the evil pair and ends the tale by making good marriages for himself and the other youths with Doboshova's three captive serving girls. The writing is taut to the point of understatement yet so perfect for this subtly magnetic story of evil overcome by magic and common sense at the level of universal wisdom. Miss Hogrogian's flawlessly executed illustrations render character and atmosphere with restraint and great beauty. On all counts, a book of uncommon quality.
Booklist (review date 1 November 1967)
SOURCE: Booklist 64, no. 5 (1 November 1967): 338.
A short, masterfully told story [The Fearsome Inn ] of witches and spells by the author of Zlateh the Goat, and Other Stories. During a snowstorm three young men seek shelter in an inn unaware that the owners are a wicked witch and her half-devil husband. Luckily, one of the young men is a quick-witted cabala student who has a piece of magic chalk and he saves himself, his fellow victims, and three lovely captive girls by trapping the evil pair in a magic circle. The full-color illustrations tellingly interpret characters and events and enhance the appearance of this distinguished book.
Publishers Weekly (review date 26 October 1984)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 226, no. 17 (26 October 1984): 105.
Singer won a Newbery Honor for his tale of demons [The Fearsome Inn ], superbly illustrated in atmospherically rich paintings by Caldecott Medalist Hogrogian. The author sustains the frights in a remote inn, run by Doboshova the witch and Lapitut, a creature half-devil, half-man. Woe to the traveler who falls into their hands and to the three lovely girls the evil ones have enslaved. Three young men arrive at the inn one night and are rendered helpless by Doboshova's spell. Luckily, though, Liebel is a student of the holy cabala and is enabled—after a deadly struggle—to defeat the witch and Lapitut. The maidens are freed and marry the three guests of the purified inn.
THE RENOWNED HISTORY OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (1967)
Publishers Weekly (review date 31 July 1967)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 192, no. 5 (31 July 1967): 55.
Well, hurrah for Nonny Hogrogian! I don't know if she takes her whisky straight, but her Renowned History of Little Red Riding-Hood is proof, 100% proof, that she takes her stories straight. The winner of the 1966 Caldecott Award went back to the 1808 version of this story, and she hasn't added one drop of sweetness to water it down. The wolf eats up the Grandmother and he eats up Little Red Riding-Hood—and that's that! And that makes this a delightful charmer of a little book that will be in every Christmas stocking this coming Christmas Eve, if this grandmother hasn't lost all her buttons.
Selma G. Lanes (review date 5 November 1967)
SOURCE: Lanes, Selma G. "A Good, Strong Dose of Sweetness." Book World 1 (5 November 1967): 1.
In The Renowned History of Little Red Riding Hood, Nonny Hogrogian has chosen to illustrate, in a Pennsylvania Dutch setting, a sprightly, early rendition of the tale. On the face of it, her little book would seem to be a quaint and benign confection: sweet, singsong rhymes; pages strewn with butterflies and wildflowers; a roguish but non-scary wolf; and a dear, smug waif for heroine. Its closing lines, however, pack a mean wallop: this wolf wolfs down both heroine and grandma with nary a woodsman to raise an axe. Its moral, of course—once the small listener emerges from shock—should put child molesters out of business. ("This Story demonstrates that children discreet / Should never confide in each stranger they meet.") It is stern stuff, however, for effete contemporary children unaccustomed to playing for keeps with storybook wolves.
Aileen O'Brien Murphy (review date 15 December 1967)
SOURCE: Murphy, Aileen O'Brien. Library Journal 92, no. 22 (15 December 1967): 4605-06.
The new illustrations for this miniature book (51/2" × 5") [The Renowned History of Little Red Riding Hood ] from the 1965 Caldecott Medalist will enhance its special appeal to children's book fanciers who are likely to make a more receptive audience for it than today's children. The text, taken from a book first published in London in 1808, consists of moralistic rhymes ("There dwelt in a cottage which stood on the green, / As sweet a creature as ever was seen") which spell out "Little Red Riding Hood's tragical fate"—a fate which has, nevertheless, been enlivened with comic elements in the new drawings.
Booklist (review date 1 February 1968)
SOURCE: Booklist 64, no. 11 (1 February 1968): 642.
An old rhymed version of the familiar tale [The Renowned history of Little Red Riding Hood ] is newly illustrated with delicate watercolors showing a homely but winsome Little Red Riding Hood. Although some expressions in this early nineteenth-century rhyme are unfamiliar, the rhythm is so easy and lilting that most children will take them in stride. A moral, also in verse, ends the story by warning the reader against confiding in a stranger who may be a "knave in artful disguise." The book's small format complements the dainty illustrations.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date April 1968)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 21, no. 8 (April 1968): 128.
A small book [The Renowned History of Little Red Riding Hood ] with beguiling illustrations that show a cheerful, gullible Red Riding Hood an easy prey to a shaggy, leering wolf. The verse version is taken from an edition published in London in 1808, the appeals of its rhyme and rhythm more than compensating for the elaborations of the mannered period style. The tale ends, of course, with a moral: "This story demonstrates that children discreet / Should never confide in each stranger they meet; For often a Knave, in artful disguise, Will mark out an innocent prey for his prize: Take warning, dear Children, before 'tis too late, By Little Red Riding Hood's tragical fate."
THE STORY OF PRINCE IVAN, THE FIREBIRD, AND THE GRAY WOLF (1968)
Publishers Weekly (review date 1 April 1968)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 193, no. 14 (1 April 1968): 39.
Nonny Hogrogian has illustrated another fable, legend, fairy tale [The Story of Prince Ivan, the Fire-bird, and the Gray Wolf ]—the Russian one on which Stravinsky's "Firebird" is based. Against a generous background of white space, with the landscape treated like stage flats, her figures leap across the pages. Another bright star of a book from another star of an artist.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 April 1968)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 36, no. 8 (15 April 1968): 457.
A story [The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf ] abounding in splendid effects has been illustrated with a restraint approaching austerity, and the result is a book which is memorable for more than its beauty. It is the wolf, lean and quick-silver smart, who is the real hero, as he should be—Prince Ivan, the impetuous epitome of youth, is fortunate to have his friendship. The tale follows the Prince in his successive quest for the firebird, the steed with the golden mane, and the beautiful Princess Elena, each time assisted and then saved by the gray wolf whose warnings he ignores; when he has secured all three, he is stabbed by his jealous brothers, brought back to life and Princess Elena through the final intercession of the gray wolf. What is well told by Mr. Whitney is fearsomely or amusingly or tenderly demonstrated in Nonny Hogrogian's watercolor-and-line drawings. Each king and each courtier is an individual weakling, throwing the loyal wolf and modest Princess and protective Prince into relief, and neither bird nor steed outshines them. Only one word will do in summation: outstanding.
Ethel L. Heins (review date June 1968)
SOURCE: Heins, Ethel L. Horn Book Magazine 44, no. 3 (June 1968): 320-21.
In this version of the Russian legend of the firebird [The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf ], Prince Ivan, youngest son of the King, goes on a quest for the wondrous bird with "golden feathers and … eyes … like oriental crystal." Aided by the magical powers of the gray wolf, Ivan wins not only the firebird but the horse with the golden mane and the Princess Elena the Beautiful for his bride. There are many traditional Russian stories of the firebird (Arthur Ransome retold one and Stravinsky used another for his ballet); the dust jacket states that the translator worked from the story which appeared in the Bilibin edition of 1901. The artist might well have been carried away by the dazzling possibilities of the tale; instead she has used fresh, glowing water colors for restrained, beautiful pictures that reflect her impeccable taste and sense of design.
Della Thomas (review date 15 June 1968)
SOURCE: Thomas, Della. Library Journal 93, no. 12 (15 June 1968): 2543.
Subtly gray or jewel-toned color washes by Nonny Hogrogian distinguish this picture book edition of a folktale [The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf ] in which the artist catches the flavor of the period and country of origin. Expressions of villainy, surprise, apprehension, and consternation are deftly caricatured on the faces of the characters, and the simplicity of line, together with effective use of colored shadow-effects, carries the narrative smoothly through every page of the text. A translation of the Bilibin edition published in St. Petersburg in 1901, this version of one of the classic fairy tales of Russia varies in many particulars from other available editions. Here, Ivan is one of the three sons of the king, and his task of bringing back the firebird is complicated by his capture by two other kings who impose additional tasks. Poetic justice, as usually found in the folk and fairy tale, is absent; Ivan's own greed and disregard of instructions are responsible for his misfortunes, which are resolved only through trickery and the Wolf's magical powers. In both Old Peter's Russian Tales, edited by Arthur Ransome, and Almedigen's Russian Folk and Fairy Tales, the wonder-working animal is a horse, and in neither is the hero a prince. A more comparable plot is found in Tales of Old Russia, retold by Teje Etchemendy (1964) in which Piotra, the Tsar's son, is aided by a red fox, but the ending is quite different. Since there seems to be little uniformity among the various versions, this one with the advantage of its inviting format, should be a popular selection.
ONE FINE DAY (1971)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 1971)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 39, no. 14 (15 July 1971): 735.
Making the most of the cumulative motif that collapsed in Carl Withers' ponderous rendering of a Siberian fable, The Grindstone of God, Nonny Hogrogian proceeds unceremoniously through a simple, resilient variant [One Fine Day ] reportedly inspired by an Armenian folk tale. By the midpoint a certain fox is getting desperate about retrieving the tail he lost to the knife of the angry woman whose pail of milk he depleted: "Oh, kind miller, please give me a little grain. I have to trade it for the egg to pay the peddler to get the blue bead to give the maiden in return for her jug to fetch the water to give the field to get the grass to feed the cow to get the milk to give the old woman so she'll sew my tail in place, or all my friends will laugh at me." The miller agrees unconditionally and the lines recapitulate in rhythmic reverse: they're fleet and repeatable; all the double-talk is in the faces and figures molded yieldingly to a firm softness in the subdued brightness of a fine day on which a fox can be quite the versatile poseur.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date November 1971)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 25, no. 3 (November 1971): 44-5.
A picture story book based on an Armenian folk tale [One Fine Day ] is illustrated with bold, simple compositions in soft colors, the pictures echoing the humor of the story. Nicely told, the tale uses a familiar cumulative pattern: when a fox drinks all the milk from an old woman's pail, she cuts off his tail; he begs her to sew it on so that his friends won't laugh at him. She agrees—if he will return her milk. So the fox goes from one creature to another, each asking for a reciprocal favor, until a kind man takes pity, and gives him grain to take to the hen to get the egg to pay the peddler, etc. A charming picture book that is just right for reading aloud to small children, the scale of the pictures also appropriate for group use.
Marianne Hough (review date 15 November 1971)
SOURCE: Hough, Marianne. Library Journal 96, no. 20 (15 November 1971): 3892.
Nonny Hogrogian's richly colored, folk-style illustrations highlight this Armenian peasant tale [One Fine Day ] in which a fox steals milk from an old farm woman and loses his tail under the annoyed lady's knife. Told in simple, cumulative prose, the fox's attempts to arrange suitable exchanges with a cow, a field, a stream, a fair maiden, a peddler, a hen, and a miller are as delightful as the adventures of the pig who wouldn't go over the stile in the English version of this tale ("The Old Woman and Her Pig," in Jacobs' English Fairy Tales).
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date October 1972)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 26, no. 2 (October 1972): 27.
An attractive picture book [Apples ] without words, the plot slight but clear. Two children and some animals cross, in turn, a green and sunny landscape, discarding their apple cores. One by one, apple trees spring up until the pages are filled with trees bearing ripe fruit. There is no indication of seasonal change and time passing; in the end the apple vendor (who was seen at the beginning) is picking apples and filling his cart. He goes off—end of story. Not imposing, but pleasant.
Booklist (review date 1 October 1972)
SOURCE: Booklist 69, no. 3 (1 October 1972): 148.
In this wordless picture book [Apples ], cheerfully colored double-page spreads depict the magically rapid growth of an apple orchard from cores discarded by various children and animals. A small boy begins the process by eating an apple from a peddler's pushcart and tossing the core into the thick yellowgreen grass. A tree grows quickly and is soon surrounded by trees growing from cores left behind by others. Finally there is an orchard full of heavily laden apple trees, and the peddler restocks his push-cart and moves on.
BILLY GOAT AND HIS WELL-FED FRIENDS (1972)
Publishers Weekly (review date 28 August 1972)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 202, no. 9 (28 August 1972): 264.
An I Can Read Book [Billy Goat and His Well-Fed Friends ] which tells of how billy goat overhears his farmer owner planning to fatten him up for the kill. The goat runs away and, on his journey, meets a pig, a lamb, and other animals—all being fed well for what the goat assures them are sinister purposes. How they all get away and make their own home in the woods makes a jolly story and pictures.
Library Journal (review date 15 December 1972)
SOURCE: Library Journal 97, no. 22 (15 December 1972): 4082.
Nonny Hogrogian also proves that creativity is possible within the limits of the easy-to-read format. Billy Goat and His Well-Fed Friends is a barnyard tale with an interesting twist. Billy saves himself and several of his plump friends from farmers who are fattening them for eating. He takes them to the woods where they build a house in which they can live together in safety—after discouraging two wolves who come visiting—and peace. Pastoral wash illustrations, complete with a "Bless Our Home" wall hanging, accompany the very easy text. Treat first graders to Billy Goat … ; pre-schoolers will enjoy hearing it and primary graders will be able to decipher the text by following the action in the delightfully alive pictures.
Booklist (review date 15 April 1973)
SOURCE: Booklist 69, no. 16 (15 April 1973): 812.
A cumulative tale [Billy Goat and His Well-Fed Friends ], reminiscent of "The Brementown musicians," in which five fat animal friends, determined not to satisfy the farmer's appetite, set out to "build a house in the woods and live in peace together." United, the five defy not only their farmers but also two wolves that disturb their peace. Hogrogian's illustrations in soft pastel shades have a childlike quality.
THE HERMIT AND HARRY AND ME (1972)
Joanne E. Bernstein (review date 15 January 1973)
SOURCE: Bernstein, Joanne E. Library Journal 98, no. 2 (15 January 1973): 253.
The familiar experience of liking someone who doesn't care while refusing to respond to an ardent pursuer is explored in this latest book [The Hermit and Harry and Me ] by two-time Caldecott winner Nonny Hogrogian. The simple story has a predictable end: the little girl finally sees Harry's virtues and realizes that the unattainable Hermit has little to offer anyway. The bright, pleasant illustrations matching each statement are framed, but Hogrogian extends segments of the picture into the margin—an effective technique which highlights an insightful, satisfying book.
HANDMADE SECRET HIDING PLACES (1975)
Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 July 1975)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 43, no. 14 (15 July 1975): 774.
Never mind that most children with access to the necessary resources [Handmade Secret Hiding Places ] can devise a cardboard carton house, four poster tent, bedsheet-and-chairs tent, and sand dugout on their own, or that many of the remaining suggestions (there are ten hideouts in all) require a rural (or at least suburban) outdoors. It's a game kids everywhere love to play. Hogrogian's unpretentious black-and-white drawings (despite the ubiquitous U-shaped grin) make the construction look fun and easy, and a couple of her ideas—a chicken wire and mud shelter, a branch and bean stalk teepee—are enticing enough for older children as well as the obvious preschool audience. This isn't the big book you'd expect from a big name—more the sort of nice, small, out-of-the-way project a lucky newcomer might come up with.
Barbara Elleman (review date 15 September 1975)
SOURCE: Elleman, Barbara. Booklist 72, no. 2 (15 September 1975): 165.
Simple, handwritten instructions accompanied by black-and-white pencil drawings show children how to make their own secret hiding places [Handmade Secret Hiding Places ]. Trees, beds, chairs, boxes, and sandy beaches comprise the places, and such items as branches, sheets, and even mud provide the covers. Hogrogian has taken advantage of a subject with natural appeal to nudge children's imagination into action. If none of her creative ideas is possible, the last page challenges: "How many other hiding places can you make or find?"
Lisa Landes (review date November 1975)
SOURCE: Landes, Lisa. School Library Journal 22, no. 3 (November 1975): 78.
Directions for building the standard indoor and outdoor hiding places [Handmade Secret Hiding Places ], e.g., cardboard box house, four poster Arabian tent, behind the stairs and between the chairs hideouts. Although the pen-and-ink illustrations are pleasing, the ideas are not original, and the handwritten text in script may be inaccessible to newly independent readers.
Ruth E. Moline (review date May 1976)
SOURCE: Moline, Ruth E. Language Arts 53, no. 5 (May 1976): 504.
Directions for constructing ten hiding places are given in recipe format and cursive handwriting [Handmade Secret Hiding Places ]. Hideouts such as mud house, pole bean tree and leafy lean-to are for outdoor use. Some can be adapted for either outside or inside—cardboard box house, string hideout. Some hideouts require a rural locale but for others such as the after Christmas tree hideout, materials will be easier to find in the city. A black and white drawing accompanies each set of directions; the more complex constructions have two. The small, 61/4 × 61/4 book is deceptively simple but most of the hiding places can be constructed by ages 7-11. A frontis-piece illustration and the teasing question "How many other hiding places can you make or find?" suggest possible class activities.
THE CONTEST: AN ARMENIAN FOLKTALE (1976)
Publishers Weekly (review date 16 August 1976)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 210, no. 7 (16 August 1976): 123.
Nothing produced by Nonny Hogrogian has escaped notice. Among her honors, she has two Caldecott Medals and she's at her best in this tale of trickery [The Contest: An Armenian Folktale ]. As an artist she has been inspired but not constricted by traditional Middle Eastern designs. The sly expressions of her characters contrast with the handsome Oriental motifs in vibrant hues. Two robbers, Hmayag and Hrahad, vie for the favors of pretty Ehleezah when they find she has promised to wed both. Their exploits are outrageously funny and successful and they finally agree both are too good for Ms. Smarty. Which is ok with her; back home, she has found a third swain. Don't worry about the foreign words. Everything is made crystal clear in a pronunciation guide. Just enjoy.
Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 September 1976)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 44, no. 17 (1 September 1976): 971.
They might be two of the three rogues from Rooster Brother (1974); here [The Contest: An Armenian Folktale ]u they're unwittingly betrothed to the same Ehleezah, who gets away with it as long as one thieves by day and the other by night. When the suitors do catch on, there's a trickery contest to determine which of them is more worthy—and the hijinks of course become their own raison d'etre, especially as both contestants decide that "their sweet betrayer didn't deserve either one of them." Hogrogian gives her familiar fluid figures a crayony texture and, for local color, borders the scenes with attractive "oriental rug" designs—charming decoration, but little else is new.
Denise M. Wilms (review date 1 October 1976)
SOURCE: Wilms, Denise M. Booklist 73, no. 3 (1 October 1976): 252.
A saucy tale, this story [The Contest: An Armenian Folktale ] unfolds the adventures of Hmayag and Hrahad, two robbers who discover they are betrothed to the same Ehleezah. Since that "sweet deceiver" can have only one of them, they set up a contest to see who is the cleverest, but their trickeries, involving a hapless husband and a sleepy Ishkhan (ruler), prove so inspired that they figure Ehleezah doesn't deserve either of them; meanwhile, back home, Ehleezah herself sports a new sweetheart. The telling is smooth, the illustrations wonderfully rich in texture and controlled color. They are admirably conceived, some framed with a folk motif border, others standing elegantly alone against ample white space. Sprinkled throughout, as if they were an amusing afterthought, are skeletal pencil studies of the two rogues. Hogrogian has outdone herself; it's a pleasure to settle down to her artistry.
Paul Heins (review date December 1976)
SOURCE: Heins, Paul. Horn Book Magazine 52, no. 6 (December 1976): 618-19.
Based on an Armenian folk tale, a picture-storybook [The Contest: An Armenian Folktale ] by the winner of two Caldecott Medals. Two robbers, one of whom did his work by day and the other by night, were each betrothed to a girl named Ehleezah. "The truth of the matter is they were both betrothed to the same Ehleezah although they didn't know each other." However, when both men decided to extend their activities to the next province, they met by chance; and in the course of their conversation they discovered the true state of affairs. Not at all deterred, they decided to find out which one of them was the cleverer thief and therefore worthy of marrying Ehleezah. The contest led to an unexpectedly satisfactory ending not only for the robbers but for Ehleezah herself. The symmetrical elements of the tale, which create arabesques of humor, are well-served by the full-color, full-page illustrations and by the pencil drawings scattered through the text. Some of the colored illustrations are bordered by oriental rug patterns, and all of the paintings and drawings are strong in their depiction of Armenian physiognomy. The uncluttered line drawings economically state the actions of the thieves and their horses.
Reading Teacher (review date November 1981)
SOURCE: Reading Teacher 35, no. 2 (November 1981): 199.
A retelling of an Armenian folktale about two robbers [The Contest: An Armenian Folktale ]. One worked by day, one by night. By chance they met at noon one day and discovered their lunches, packed for each by his future wife, were identical. The truth was that they were both engaged to the same girl. They decided to have a robbery contest—the winner would get the girl for his wife—but in the end they decided on a profitable future together, and that "their sweet betrayer" was not worthy of either of them. The full-page, color illustrations depict the Armenian characters marvelously. These and oriental rug designs on the endpapers greatly enhance the book's charm.
CARROT CAKE (1977)
Barbara Elleman (review date 1 September 1977)
SOURCE: Elleman, Barbara. Booklist 74, no. 1 (1 September 1977): 42.
Although theirs is called "the finest match in the rabbit kingdom," the newlyweds discover that life is more than turnip pie and lettuce-under-glass [Carrot Cake ]. Mr. Rabbit is chagrined to realize that his constant chatter about the day's activities is met with non-committal responses from his shy young wife. Thinking to help her, he suggests what are—to him—proper answers but finds, with growing aggravation, that she constantly mixes them up: "When I went to gather food I was caught in a hunter's trap." "We shall live in it joyously with all our children," repeats Mrs. Rabbit. His irritation grows until she cries, "I'm not as dumb as you think," subduing him into stunned silence. Tears follow and a reconciliation over carrot cake. The getting-along message is cleverly disguised by the story's humor and the appealing art work. In contrast to the vibrancy of The Contest Hogrogian chooses muted colors, softly shaded, and places her rabbits in small boxes edged with a wildflower trim or in carefully spaced clusters.
Publishers Weekly (review date 12 September 1977)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 212, no. 11 (12 September 1977): 133.
Hogrogian is admired by critics and beloved by the members of her large audience. Her special talents are bound to attract readers to her new book [Carrot Cake ], a witty story illustrated by expert pictures in pretty pastels. A rabbit and his bride are presented as ecstatic honeymooners, at first. But when the excitement of the wedding and setting up their new home abates, the couple finds it hard to communicate. Mr. Rabbit gets very chatty and bossy while the lady gives her husband confused answers to all his remarks. Finally, she has had enough of his arrogance. She bops him one, and their first quarrel has salubrious results. The ending of the delightful book shows the pair sharing a treat, carrot cake, and arriving at decisions based on mutual respect as well as love.
Ethel L. Heins (review date October 1977)
SOURCE: Heins, Ethel L. Horn Book Magazine 53, no. 5 (October 1977): 524.
Two rabbits [Carrot Cake ] are married in an elegant wedding held in a flowery forest glade; they depart on a honeymoon and later return home to start a new life together. But connubial bliss is transitory, for the husband is garrulous and insensitive, and the wife in-articulate and shy. Although the story has the repetition and the incongruous humor of a folk tale, the conclusion seems a bit limp. The modest, soft-colored illustrations, however, strike a delicate balance with the text; and the result is a nicely integrated picture book.
Janet French (review date October 1977)
SOURCE: French, Janet. School Library Journal 24, no. 2 (October 1977): 103.
When newly-wed Mr. Rabbit describes his busy day to his wife [Carrot Cake ], she responds only with a series of "Ohs." Annoyed with the conversational vacuum, he suggests more graceful responses. These, like Epaminandos, she repeats at wholly inappropriate junctures and is taken to task again. Finally provoked herself, Mrs. Rabbit begins to cry. Realizing that they both have a lot to learn about life together, the rabbits embrace and happily eat their carrot cake—in silence. The gifted artist's delicate watercolor illustrations are more likely to attract children than the story's mild humor or the little lesson in conjugal relations.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1978)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 31, no. 5 (January 1978): 79.
Dainty and romantic, the paintings that illustrate this tale [Carrot Cake ] of a pair of young newlywed rabbits have little of the earthy, dramatic quality that distinguishes most of Hogrogian's work, although they have technical proficiency. After the wedding scenes, the young couple takes a fortnight's jaunt and returns to domesticity à deux. The husband criticizes his wife's monosyllabic responses to his report of the day's activities. What should she say, she asks? He gives an appropriate response, and from there on the story follows a familiar folktale pattern, as the wife responds to each remark with the one he's suggested for his previous comment. There's humor if not originality in this dialogue, which ends with the irritated wife scolding her husband and an ensuing hug-and-kiss truce. Lovely floral endpapers, but too sweet a story.
Reading Teacher (review date October 1978)
SOURCE: Reading Teacher 32, no. 1 (October 1978): 32.
In this warm and humorous tale [Carrot Cake ], Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit find out that even the most perfect couple has a lot to learn about each other. Talkative Mr. Rabbit must learn to be silent at times, while Mrs. Rabbit must learn to share her thoughts. The soft and delicate illustrations beautifully complement this realistic theme.
Publishers Weekly (review date 13 March 1981)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 219, no. 11 (13 March 1981): 89.
Winner of honors including two Caldecott Medals, Hogrogian rivals her most distinguished creations with this surpassingly lovely book [Cinderella ]. She has chosen a rare version of the Grimms' classic to retell. The stepsisters are not ugly; they are pretty but jealous and cruel to Cinderella, who is as good as she is beautiful. There is no fairy godmother, but the spirit of the abused girl's dead mother, a white dove who comes to Cinderella when she needs help. Hogrogian tells the story with grace and an affecting sensitivity that imbues the heroine with the human attributes missing in some adaptations. And as for the paintings, in their delicate lines and hues they are hard to overpraise and equally hard to stop gazing at. With current prices so high, the low tag on this special represents a bargain.
Denise M. Wilms (review date 15 March 1981)
SOURCE: Wilms, Denise M. Booklist 77, no. 1 (15 March 1981): 1028.
This Grimm brothers' version of the classic tale [Cinderella ] has a magical hazel tree and a dove rather than a fairy godmother to answer Cinderella's needs. Hogrogian's telling is clean and well modulated, with modern language that conveys a stately quality. The accompanying pictures are masterful. Done in finely textured crayon and soft pencil, they are full of dusty greens, rose and orange hues, gray-browns, and tans. Each drawing is set off by an antique border, and unexpected jewel tones—a bright gown, a white lily, or dashes of red or gold—spice the quiet shades that are the pictures' mainstay. Hogrogian's Cinderella is young and fresh and not at all elegant. Her virtuous innocence is what shines through, even when she's garbed in starshine, pearls, or gold. The interpretation is pleasing and very fine to look at.
Particia Dooley (review date April 1981)
SOURCE: Dooley, Patricia. School Library Journal 27, no. 8 (April 1981): 113.
Some familiar elements are missing from this retelling [Cinderella ]. The "fairy godmother" role is played by a hazel (not juniper) tree springing from a twig Cinderella's father brings her, into which a white dove flies. On the three nights of the ball Cinderella wears first silver, then embroidered, then golden slippers. The three stepsisters are beautiful, albeit bad. We do get the mutilation of the sisters' feet so as to deceive the Prince and their blinding as punishment. The anomalous position of Cinderella's father is even more bafflingly inexplicable in this version. Nonny Hogrogian's soft full-page pastels vaguely suggest the Renaissance in their costumes and framing motifs. The stiffly posed figures have a naive awkwardness. The pictures, unfortunately, lack dramatic tension; there is practically no background or setting and few details. The flatness of the picture plane is curiously out of keeping with the allusions to the Renaissance, a period intoxicated by its discovery of perspective.
Kate M. Flanagan (review date June 1981)
SOURCE: Flanagan, Kate M. Horn Book Magazine 57 (June 1981): 292.
Delicately colored, superbly composed illustrations, eloquent but not overpowering, provide a moving and original interpretation of the popular tale [Cinderella ]. The retelling, while faithful to most of the essential ingredients in the Grimm tale, differs in significant ways: Certain incidents, such as Cinderella's hiding in the dovecote and the pear tree, are deleted, and others are condensed or altered slightly. Some elements—the warning to return home by midnight, for instance—seem to be taken from Perrault's story, and the gruesome ending is considerably softened. The pared-down version reads smoothly, however, with its short paragraphs and crisp sentences. Facing each page of text is a full-page illustration; executed in a crayonlike medium, the drawings seem to glow with layers of color, especially when depicting golden-haired Cinderella in her splendid gowns. Each scene is framed by a decorative border, ranging from gently curved intertwinings to jagged geometric shapes. The subtle elegance exemplified by the borders is present in every aspect of the book: in the endpapers and title pages, in the page design, and—most notably—in the sweeping curves of the illustrations.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date July-August 1981)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 34, no. 11 (July-August 1981): 212
A picture book version of a favorite folktale [Cinderella ] is illustrated with paintings, framed in decorated borders, that are soft in techniques and tones, and simply composed. The simplified retelling omits some integral parts of the original, particularly the use of repeated rhymes; it softens some of the harshness of the original in such details as the fate of the stepsisters: in the original, their eyes are pecked out, one at a time, by birds, whereas in this version the sisters are striken blind. Many minor details are changed, some new details added; on the whole, however, the retelling adheres to the original, in story line if not in details of exposition and dialogue.
THE DEVIL WITH THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS (1983)
Dana Whitney Pinizzotto (review date March 1983)
SOURCE: Pinizzotto, Dana Whitney. School Library Journal 29, no. 7 (March 1983): 162.
This less-known Grimm's tale [The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs ] has been regularly anthologized (Shepherd's Nosegay by Parker Fillmore, 1958, and The Juniper Tree, translated by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell, 1973, among others), but not issued in a large, individual format. Hogrogian's retelling is close to the Segal/Jarrell translation. Full-color illustrations in ink and colored pencil or pastels are magical and deceptively simple. The generic faces are appropriate to the universal nature of fairy tales. The devil is a masterpiece—faun-like, he has pointed ears, tusky horns above his forehead, a widow's peak, a roguish moustache and goatee, a long, hairy rat-like tail and best of all, red cape, red tights and pointy red slippers. His mother, who aids the boy hero, is sweet but fiesty. Fountains of wine and gold-bearing trees make choice subjects for Hogrogian. The elaborate endpapers, marbleized by her, are magnificent, especially with the devil's tail tantalizingly hanging over the edge. A worthy edition to collections of picture books, fairy tales, independent reading and just plain visual appreciation.
Publishers Weekly (review date 22 April 1983)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 223, no. 16 (22 April 1983): 104.
Awarded two Caldecott Medals and a Caldecott Honor, Hogrogian impresses one again as an artist with awesome talent [The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs ]. The vibrant colors and action in the paintings hold the reader spellbound with their power to convey the emotions of players in the old, rarely retold Grimm classic. Hogrogian's version is readily accessible and dramatic, relating the trials of a youth destined to marry a princess. Because the young man is poor, the king sends him on missions that would kill an ordinary mortal, if they could be accomplished. One is to snatch three golden hairs from the devil's head. Every step of the brave lad's perilous journey, leading to his triumph, comes alive in this saga of good and evil.
Horn Book Magazine (review date August 1983)
SOURCE: Horn Book Magazine 59, no. 4 (August 1983): 431-32.
In a slightly compressed version [The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs ] of the story of the poor boy who was fated to marry the king's daughter and was sent by the wicked monarch to bring back three golden hairs from the head of the devil, the illustrator has successfully transcended the contrived effect of her full-color pastel pictures in Cinderella. Gone are the elaborately filagree-bordered frames for full-page illustrations; now the simple line borders are almost always broken by a form in the picture that refuses to be constricted by a conventional, monotonous neatness. In keeping with the medieval, folklike quality of the tale, the human figures are carefully articulated and dramatically composed. But the artist has roguishly invented a benign-looking devil's grandmother, clad in gray and wearing spectacles, and has contrasted her with an operatic devil dressed in bright red and magenta, sporting horns and a tail and accompanied by a gorgeously depicted snake. The juxtaposition suggests the blaring of trumpets and trombones above muted strings. And the devil's tail is seen whisking around the frame of the meticulously marbeled endpapers.
RIGHT NOW (1983)
Publishers Weekly (review date 23 September 1983)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 224, no. 13 (23 September 1983): 73.
Honors have been bestowed on both [David] Kherdian and Hogrogian, the husband and wife who gladden the heart with this seamless creation [Right Now ]. Soft drawings and luminous paintings are inseparable from the lyrics, whose theme is "seize the moment." A small girl confides, "Last night my brother hit me, / my mother scolded me, / my father sent me to bed, / and my sister wouldn't talk to me." On the opposite page we see peace restored and read, "But right now we're / weeding in our garden." Thoughts of going to the zoo tomorrow are nice, but exulting in the feel of the summer rain, right now, is better. If the child remembers the fight with Janey, never mind. "Right now, Janey's my best friend / in the whole world." Everybody will want the book, right now.
Language Arts (review date November-December 1983)
SOURCE: Language Arts 60, no. 8 (November-December 1982): 1020-21.
Not yesterday or tomorrow but RIGHT NOW! For a young girl, yesterday's world is one of quarreling, frustration, and disappointment. Tomorrow promises new hopes and dreams. But right now everything is perfect: a joyous world of flowers, rain, family, friends, and being oneself!
The text contrasts short stacatto outbursts of complaint with mellow phrases of contentment, frequently parallel in structure.
The illustrator produces a feeling for yesterday's moments of sadness with delicate pencil sketches of a little curly-haired girl. These contrast sharply with colorful scenes of action where warm hues exude a sense of happiness and well-being. Numerous circular paintings give the reader a sense of viewing the scene through a telescope.
How was your yesterday? Each reader knows only too well! It is an easy challenge to let students of all ages share their written and oral responses "Right now!"
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (review date January 1984)
SOURCE: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 37, no. 5 (January 1984): 90.
All of the pictures [Right Now ] are paired to reflect the text in a small volume that celebrates the evanescent but real joys of the moment for a small girl. "Yesterday I lost my shoe in the pond. I couldn't catch it, I couldn't reach it, I couldn't find a friend to help me," has a black and white picture of a sobbing child; facing it, a sunny outdoor scene in soft color, with "But right now I'm running through the meadow." The pattern is repeated throughout the book, and while the text doesn't focus into a story, it has structure and is simply written; the illustrations are small, deft, and often amusing. Not substantial, but the recital of familiar activities and emotions, the catalog of small woes and simple pleasures of the moment, should appeal to the lap audience.
Margaret C. Howell (review date January 1984)
SOURCE: Howell, Margaret C. School Library Journal 30, no. 5 (January 1984): 65.
A delightfully warm picture of the joys and trials of childhood [Right Now ]. A little girl tells what she is looking forward to or what bad thing has happened to her followed by the contrast of "right now." The past and future events, such as a fight with a brother, a lost cat or a trip to the zoo, are illustrated with black-and-white drawings of the girl expressing her feelings, such as sticking out her tongue. The opposite page depicts present events, like weeding the garden with her brother, making up with a best friend or feeding the cat, in warm pastel colors. The little girl seems old-fashioned and is reminiscent of a Tasha Tudor or Marguerite de Angeli character. A soothing lap story to share with a child who may have just had a disappointment, this is a gentle, quiet book by an award-winning team.
Barbara Elleman (review date 1 January 1984)
SOURCE: Elleman, Barbara. Booklist 80, no. 9 (1 January 1984): 682-83.
Soft, black pencil drawings on the right-hand side lead into quietly hued cameo pictures on the left, linked by text that deals with a child's range of daily experiences [Right now ]. The ups and downs of life emerge, as sadness turns into joy and disappointment into understanding, through sensitively written narrative: "Yesterday a daisy died. / But right now a whole field is blooming, / and butterflies are everywhere," and "This morning I had a fight with Janey.… But right now Janey's my best friend in the whole world." A more deliberate pattern of incidents might have made the theme more evident to children, but with adult interpretation this holds much opportunity for classroom discussion.
THE ANIMAL (1984)
Publishers Weekly (review date 7 September 1984)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 226, no. 10 (7 September 1984): 78.
The husband and wife who have won many prizes for their individual works present a joint effort, a story [The Animal ] with the subtle force of a parable. [David] Kherdian's singing lyrics describe what happens when "the animal" lands on Earth in a spaceship. Elephant, Fox, Lion, Goose and Crocodile gather round the visitor, who resembles a pale-blue, innocent infant unicorn. The gentle alien smiles at Elephant's trunk, at flowers, at a butterfly and a bird. The resident creatures discuss his reactions and agree that "the animal" loves everything he sees. Because, Fox theorizes, the alien is seeing and not just looking; he loves the life perceptible in miracles that are usually taken for granted. Hogrogian surpasses her previous award winners with beautiful, realistic paintings in full color that she imbues with the imagination possessed by the visitor.
Carolyn Noah (review date December 1984)
SOURCE: Noah, Carolyn. School Library Journal 31, no. 4 (December 1984): 72.
The Animal is a strange, harmless extraterrestrial visitor to this animal kingdom. He smiles at flowers, examines dandelions and chases butterflies. The other creatures ask why the animal is so full of wonder. Will he eat the flower, or, as Fox suggests, does he love it? Fox concludes that the animal loves everything because he sees everything through new eyes, and "seeing is loving." Despite elegantly simple language and luminous pastel illustrations which combine to portray infinite serenity, The Animal fails as a story. The book's language and look will appeal to children much younger than those who can grasp the sophisticated concept they express. However, as an element of continuing ethical or religious instruction, The Animal may find a niche.
THE GLASS MOUNTAIN (1985)
Publishers Weekly (review date 11 October 1985)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 228, no. 15 (11 October 1985): 65.
A book designer and prize-winning artist, Hogrogian has created an unusual setting for the beautiful paintings illustrating her smooth, rhythmic text [The Glass Mountain ]. They are framed by her hand-marbleized papers in singing pastels, each in a pattern harmonizing with the action at each development in the Grimm Brothers' magic tale. In the beginning, a queen impatient with her restless daughter wishes the baby were a raven who would fly away and leave the mother in peace. (The faces of the ladies-in-waiting and the palace cat show their shocked reaction to such unmaternal sentiments, thanks to Hogrogian's great imagination.) The princess instantly changes into a raven and is transported to the peak of a glass mountain. The plot concerns the young man who rescues the spellbound maiden, years later. After conquering the traditional odds, he receives the traditional reward, a radiant princess for his wife.
Christina Olson (review date February 1986)
SOURCE: Olson, Christina. School Library Journal 32, no. 6 (February 1986): 74.
Hogrogian's gorgeous, complex illustrations decorate a retelling of the Grimms' story, "The Raven." [The Glass Mountain ] The content is not nearly as lavish, though, as the illustrations. The story is a mysterious and wonderful one, and Hogrogian just isn't careful enough with the details that bring an important sense of wholeness to the tale: she omits the second giant's suckling child and the hero's behavior while he is invisible once he finally reaches the castle on the glass mountain. Without this kind of unity, the story becomes too disjunctive. One wishes for a more harmonious interplay of text and illustration, because the design is indeed seductive and overpowers the story in the final analysis. Instead, it is easy to ignore the story and delight in the extravagance of Hogrogian artistry. Each spread is a uniquely marbled paper border with text and illustrations inset. The marbled paper designs are splendid. And they are so splendid that one could be tempted to junk all critical response toward the text and delight solely in them.
NOAH'S ARK (1986)
Publishers Weekly (review date 12 December 1986)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 230, no. 24 (12 December 1986): 52.
Caldecott Medalist Hogrogian has created a series of delicate, muted pictures that beautifully illustrate this biblical story [Noah's Ark ]. She follows the book of Genesis quite closely, from the creation to God's sorrow that "wickedness had filled the hearts of men," to the building of the ark and the first drops of rain. And she chronicles, as does the Bible, Noah's ancestry: "Noah was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methuselah," right down six more generations to Seth, "who was the third son of Adam and Eve." Hogrogrian has added a dimension of realism to the story by showing Noah's blueprints, his vast stores of seed and the huge timbers that comprised a frame for the ark.
John Peters (review date January 1987)
SOURCE: Peters, John. School Library Journal 33, no. 5 (January 1987): 67.
A reverent version of the Biblical story [Noah's Ark ], with a sonorous paraphrased text and illustrations full of Hogrogian's gently romanticized animals. Beginning at The Beginning, she sketches (partly in words, but mostly visually) events in the Garden of Eden and Noah's genealogy. The ark is quickly built and filled (readers never get a look inside), floats on a restless, threatening sea, and lights at last on rounded, rocky hills. In the final view, Noah is planting his vineyard in a peaceful, rainbow-topped landscape. The animals steal this show: they fly, swim, crawl, or pace everywhere, their natural postures and expressive faces in sharp contrast to the subdued, stylized human figures … Hogrogian's delicate use of line and color gives her interpretaton a warm, reassuring intimacy.
Ann A. Flowers (review date March-April 1987)
SOURCE: Flowers, Ann A. Horn Book Magazine 63, no. 2 (March-April 1987): 201.
A Noah's ark book appears to be one of the touchstones of an illustrator's career; there have been many versions, some lovely, some powerful, all different. Nonny Hogrogian's [Noah's Ark ] is done in delicate pastel watercolors, graceful and humorous. Beginning with the unformed chaos and a magnificent double-page spread of the creation of the solar system, we move on to Adam and Eve, their expulsion from the Garden, and their descendants, ending with Noah. A feeling of reverence for the diversity of life fills the pictures of the animals entering two by two. Noah is depicted as a serene, kindly old man. The seed-time and harvest illustration shows multitudes of playful rabbits and the dove sitting on her eggs, while Noah plants the seeds he has saved. Two particularly charming additions are the final page, adorned with a small painting of luscious grapes on a grapevine, inscribed "THE BEGINNING," and the endpapers, with careful plans for the ark. An excellent choice for the young child.
THE CAT WHO LOVED TO SING (1988)
Marianne Pilla (review date April 1988)
SOURCE: Pilla, Marianne. School Library Journal 34, no. 8 (April 1988): 80.
In the style of her One Fine Day (1971), Hogrogian presents this cumulative tale [The Cat Who Loved to Sing ] of a carefree cat who trades with those he meets: a thorn for bread, then for a hen, and so on until he winds up with a mandolin, which he keeps "for he is a cat who loves to sing." The refreshing aspect of this story is the kindness that he encounters, from the woman who removes a thorn from his foot to the shepherd in need of a flock. The only exception is the fox (ironically, the only other animal with whom the cat trades), who in true folk tradition, has just stolen a hen. The spirited text contains verses that this playful puss sings as he walks along. The refrain echoes what has just transpired in the story. And there's a bonus at the end—the musical notation of a "Cat Song." Pastel watercolors evoke a pastoral setting for the journey of the friendly feline. The scenes are simple yet rich with expression and perfectly complement the text of this picture book. Both readers and listeners are sure to enjoy this warm tale.
Denise M. Wilms (review date 1 April 1988)
SOURCE: Wilms, Denise M. Booklist 84, no. 15 (1 April 1988): 1348-49.
A farm woman who removes a thorn from the foot of a wandering cat [The Cat Who Loved to Sing ] looks at the splinter and declares that it would make a fine needle. She trades a loaf of bread for the thorn—the first in a series of barters that eventually gains the foot-loose cat a mandolin—just what a singing cat needs to be truly happy. Hogrogian's pictures have a light touch; the pencil-and-wash drawings are cool and peaceful yet expressive in their depiction of the tale. A melody line is provided for the cat's song at the finish; the story's implicit message—that nourishment for the spirit is more important than most material goods—could prompt interesting discussion for listeners or readers in the early grades.
Ann A. Flowers (review date May 1988)
SOURCE: Flowers, Ann A. Horn Book Magazine 64, no. 3 (May 1988): 341.
A cumulative story [The Cat Who Loved to Sing ]of a cat who traded up from a thorn to a mandolin features a regular Pavarotti of a cat, expansive of gesture, wide of mouth, and brisk of step. The original thorn in his paw is removed by a kindly woman who wants it for a needle and gives him some bread instead. He moves from bread to chicken and trades for yarn, coat, dog, lamb, and finally mandolin, singing boisterously and cheerfully of his trades. The book is reminiscent of One Fine Day —the illustrations even include a very similar fox. There is a kindliness about the illustrations which adds immeasurably to the story; the shepherd is seen leading off his new lamb with a protective hand on its back—although the fox is definitely foxy in his stratagems for catching chickens—and the cat artiste is as amiable as he is musical. Nonny Hogrogian's soft green palette presents an almost Arcadian countryside with vaguely Eastern European peasants. A fine read-aloud starring a memorable feline performer. With the words and music to "Cat Song."
Joan S. Keenan (review date fall 1988)
SOURCE: Keenan, Joan S. Childhood Education 65, no. 1 (fall 1988): 44.
In this cheerful tale of Armenian origin, a debonair singing cat trades a thorn to the kindly woman who removes it from his paw, beginning a series of swaps that culminate in a mandolin to "keep to play my songs." Hogrogian's soft greens and blues and her musical cat make delightful singing and reading aloud, reminiscent of the author's award-winning One Fine Day in spirit and setting.
School Library Media Quarterly (review date summer 1990)
SOURCE: School Library Media Quarterly 18, no. 4 (summer 1990): 259.
In this cumulative story [The Cat Who Loved to Sing ] a cat who loves to sing trades one thing for another with various animals and people until he finally gains a mandolin to play as he sings. The musical score and words to "Cat Song" appear at the end. As children have probably never seen or heard this instrument, they could watch and listen to a mandolin player.
THE CAT'S MIDSUMMER JAMBOREE (1990)
Diane Roback (review date 30 March 1990)
SOURCE: Roback, Diane. Publishers Weekly 237, no. 13 (30 March 1990): 61.
This mandolin-strumming, singing cat [The Cat's Midsummer Jamboree ] has an extraordinary ear for music and a boundless enthusiasm that soon extends to encompass a toad with a harmonica, then a fox with a flute. The felicitous feline proves adept at encouraging each musician to give up a solo career, as the trio soon becomes a country band, with members joining in a lyrical chain reaction. First they form a parade, then climb into tree branches to create their own coloroful symphony. The music takes over "until the world of that place was filled with the happiness that all began with a cat who loved to sing." Soft-as-velvet illustrations from two-time Caldecott Medalist Hogrogian seem to spring out of the clean white pages. A diverse collection of wildflowers provides a gentle backdrop for the forest folk. [Hogrogian and David Kherdian's] rhapsodic story will make readers and listeners want to reach for an instrument and burst into song.
Ethel L. Heins (review date July 1990)
SOURCE: Heins, Ethel L. Horn Book Magazine 66, no. 4 (July 1990): 444.
A fresh and original variation on a favorite old form—the cumulative tale—begins with a gregarious singing cat [The Cat's Midsummer Jamboree ]. "Strumming his mandolin, / he would roam and sing, / and romp and sing, / and dance and sing." One day he comes upon a toad sitting in a hole in a tree and playing a harmonica. The cat urges the little amphibian to take his music out of hiding and, traveling with him, to form a peripatetic duet. On the road they discover a succession of music-making animals: a fox tooting a flute, a badger beating a drum, a skunk playing a violin, and an elegant goose with a bassoon. At the cat's invitation each one joins the musical procession until they find a raccoon playing an accordian high in the branches of a tree. Up they go and perch aloft so their "music will carry to all who wish to hear," and soon the harmonious company lures happy revelers, listeners, acrobats, and jugglers. Nonny Hogrogian, the designer as well as the illustrator of the beautifully integrated book, has created page after page of well-defined forms and beguiling bright color. Full of dramatic action, imagination, and wit, the illustrations breathe life and energy into the text. The joyous animals, masters of their instruments, look as insouciantly expert as an ensemble of professional musicians.
Corinne Camarata (review date July 1990)
SOURCE: Camarata, Corinne. School Library Journal 36, no. 7 (July 1990): 61.
In this simple, low-key story [The Cat's Midsummer Jamboree ], a singing, mandolin-playing cat comes upon a variety of other animal musicians and persuades each in turn to join in and travel along. A toad with a harmonica, a flute-playing fox, a drummer badger, and others add to the assembly until they at last become "a jamboree in a tree," attracting listeners and revelers from all around. [David] Kherdian's stylized telling has the quality of a folktale as the players progress from a duet to a trio, to a quartet, and so on, introducing a new animal and instrument each time. The text is slightly more formal than Hogrogian's familiar soft, whimsical colored-pencil and wash drawings, set unfettered against white backgrounds or enclosed in a lush forest backdrop. A pleasant enough stroll, although rather tame stuff for midsummer madness.
THE GREAT FISHING CONTEST (1991)
Publishers Weekly (review date 10 May 1991)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 238, no. 21 (10 May 1991): 282.
Once again [Hogrogian and David Kherdian] have combined their unusual talents to produce a warm, thoughtful picture book [The Great Fishing Contest ]. Determined to win the local annual fishing contest, best friends Jason and Sammy realize that if one of them should win the coveted first prize, then the other will not. Thus The Great Fishing Contest is primarily a book about friendship, about the camaraderie of going after the same goal, of winning with good grace and losing without jealousy. Jason narrates the story, and as in A Song for Uncle Harry and The Road from Home, Kherdian shows his sensitivity to the cadences of a child's voice. He fully understands young hopes and worries, and skillfully sets them down with earnest humor. Rich yet uncomplicated, Hogrogian's gentle pastels capture the boys' closeness as they sit and plan together, until both text and art take on the glow of idyllic childhood summers.
Rachel Fox (review date June 1991)
SOURCE: Fox, Rachel. School Library Journal 37, no. 6 (June 1991): 83.
When school ends for the summer, best friends Jason and Sammy begin plotting their strategy for the annual fishing contest [The Great Fishing Contest ]. The prize for catching the largest fish is a spinning rod. They decide that if either of them wins, both will do odd jobs to earn enough money to buy a spinning rod for the other. It is difficult to visualize a child who would be interested in this slow-paced story. There are also inconsistencies. When Jason chooses his fishing spot, he is standing next to the only girl in the contest. Although they say little to each other, there is tension in the air. When Jason does pull in the biggest fish, it's unlikely that she would say, "I knew you could do it." Hogrogian's pastel and watercolor illustrations are static and uninvolving. Although the contest takes place at midday, the drawings are somber and gloomy. The characters also seem isolated from one another and awkward; while they are supposedly conversing, they don't make eye contact. It's hard to believe that this book came from the author and illustrator of so many other favorite children's stories.
FEATHERS AND TAILS: ANIMAL FABLES FROM AROUND THE WORLD (1992)
Publishers Weekly (review date 3 August 1992)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 239, no. 35 (3 August 1992): 69-70.
Having won awards for their work individually, husband and wife [David] Kherdian and Hogrogian have combined their talents to create an engrossing, handsomely designed anthology of animal fables, proverbs, riddles and folktales from around the world [Feathers and Tails: Animal Fables from around the World ]. Some selections, Grimm's "The Wolf and the Seven Kids," for example, will be familiar; others, such as the Canadian Kutchin Indian tale "The Stolen Moon" (which offers a beguiling explanation for the fickle presence of moonlight) will be new to many readers. The collection's only possible shortcoming in the child-appeal department may lie in the fact that, as Kherdian acknowledges, these are by and large "ancient teaching stories," and some of the briefer selections, such as the traditional one from Aesop, sacrifice narrative interest for instructive purposes. But Kherdian's stylish retellings exhibit a satisfying variety, while Hogrogian's graceful illustrations enliven the collection with a sense of play and movement. Each page is framed by a colored border that is mischievously transgressed by such details as flowers, birds' beaks and animals' tails. A brief description of the varied source materials can be found at the back of the book.
Lee Bock (review date October 1992)
SOURCE: Bock, Lee. School Library Journal 38, no. 10 (October 1992): 104.
A stellar blend of story and illustration that will appeal to storytellers, readers, and listeners of many ages [Feathers and Tails: Animal Fables from around the World ]. [David] Kherdian has gathered tales from such diverse sources as the Bidpai fables, Aesop (of course!), Panchatantra, and the Brothers Grimm. The appeal of such stories, historically, has been that lessons can be taught palatably and listeners can see themselves indirectly. Who among us hasn't been bamboozled by a fast-talking "wolf" ("The Ungrateful Wolf"); or pretended to be someone we are not, as King Fierce-Howl ("The Blue Jackal"); or had so much trouble making up our mind that a golden opportunity was lost ("Crane Woos Heron")? The book design enhances each selection's impact. Like the fables they illustrate, Hogrogian's pen-and-ink-and-watercolor drawings are spare, uncluttered, and engaging. Her beautifully drawn animals remain animals despite their human activities and foibles. Brief descriptions of the sources are appended. Children will flock to this volume.
Janice Del Negro (review date 1 December 1992)
SOURCE: Del Negro, Janice. Booklist 89, no. 7 (1 December 1992): 662.
A fine assortment of animal fables [Feathers and Tails: Animal Fables from around the World ] retold with style and restraint and illustrated with simplicity and humor. Valuable for reading aloud and for storytelling, the book contains 21 stories and proverbs from Aesop, La Fontaine, the Panchatantra and other sources and includes a number of old favorites, such as "Anansi Rides Tiger" from West Africa and "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" from the brothers Grimm. Hogrogian's animal illustrations seem comfortable and relaxed within their colorful framed borders, and the unadorned text is ideal for transitional readers moving into chapter books. Kherdian's short introduction to fables and folktales is a good one, and he's provided source notes explaining the origin of the tales.
Elizabeth S. Watson (review date January-February 1993)
SOURCE: Watson, Elizabeth S. Horn Book Magazine 69, no. 1 (January-February 1993): 95.
Twenty-one fables from nineteen different cultures are presented in this attractive and extremely useful collection. Familiar characters such as Anansi and Crow are included along with less well-known fables such as "The Heron and the Hummingbird," a variant of "The Tortoise and the Hare" from the Muskogee Indian people. The pieces vary in length from one-sentence proverbs to several-page stories. Hogrogian's graceful illustrations add humor, charm, and accessibility to the book. A particularly pleasing page design is employed, featuring simple, colorful borders that frame both text and pictures—except in cases where the animals escape the frames. Sources included.
Betsy Hearne (review date February 1993)
SOURCE: Hearne, Betsy. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 46, no. 6 (February 1993): 180-81.
Kherdian has peppered this anthology [Feathers and Tails: Animal Fables from around the World ] with just enough unusual fables to make it a worthwhile purchase even for those libraries that have books containing the more common tales ("Anansi Rides Tiger," "The Monkey and the Crocodile," "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids"). Most of the twenty-one selections are East European, African, Asian, and Native American. The term fables is a bit deceptive, since pourquoi tales, trickster tales, proverbs, and a riddle all find their way into the pot, but that's all to the good, since fables are often either serious or ironic; the tone here is varied with open humor, and the adaptation is elegantly low-key. Hogrogian's modulated colors and rounded animal figures are saved from soft handsomeness by an occasional sly edge in pose or expression. An endnote describes the fables' authors, where known, but does not cite sources for the folklore, which comprises about half the collection.
ASKING THE RIVER (1993)
Hazel Rochman (review date 15 September 1993)
SOURCE: Rochman, Hazel. Booklist 90, no. 2 (15 September 1993): 152.
Drawing on his own experience as an Armenian American, [David] Kherdian writes with wry humor and humanity about an immigrant kid caught between two worlds [Asking the River ]. Growing up in Racine, Wisconsin, Stepan (Steven) Bakaian is stuck in grade school at 13 because he's flunked twice. He feels stifled by his Armenian heritage, the memories of massacre that weigh his parents down, and the pressure on him to make it up to them. He doesn't want to be labeled a sad Armenian; Old Country to him means backward. At the same time, he lives on a dead-end street, dreads ending up in a factory like his father, and feels a stranger in America. Part of him wants to run away from home, but he doesn't know where to go. He enjoys baseball and plays pool with his friends, but it's only in some solitary moments at the river that he feels a tentative connection with a wider world. Stepan is too articulate about his search for identity, and all the talk about the meaning of life gets heavy at times; but Kherdian writes with rare candor about the conflicts in the community, especially between generations. The dialogue snaps with insult and sorrow. Every immigrant kid will recognize the quarrels, the secrets, the shame and embarrassment, the truth of what Step's mother says: "I am a part of two worlds, one lost and shattered, the other a compromise." Nonny Hogrogian, Kherdian's wife, did the illustrations, unseen in galley.
Todd Morning (review date December 1993)
SOURCE: Morning, Todd. School Library Journal 39, no. 12 (December 1993): 134.
An episodic novel [Asking the River ], no doubt based on the author's own boyhood as the son of Armenian immigrants. Stepan Bakaian is very much aware of being a newcomer to American midwestern society, yet he doesn't feel connected to his parents' obsessions with Old World grievances and their past pain. This tension gives the book its sharpest focus. Equally well drawn are the portraits of the main character's many relatives and the connections he makes to U.S. society through sports. At times, however, the first-person narration seems much too sophisticated and unauthentic for an adolescent boy, and the book's often gloomy tone will make it hard to attract readers. So, as a portrait of immigrant life this novel is successful, but its appeal to its intended audience will be limited.
BY MYSELF (1993)
Publishers Weekly (review date 23 August 1993)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 240, no. 34 (23 August 1993): 68-9.
A departure from the acclaimed duo's [David Kherdian and Nonny Hogragian] Feathers and Tails, this understated picture book [By Myself ] details the observations and imaginings of a girl as she walks home from school by herself for the very first time. Newbery Honor author Kherdian's prose poem imitates the stream-of-consciousness speech of a child at play: "The sky is talking to a cloud," the girl reports, "but the cloud wants to get away." Her explanations follow the skewed logic of childhood: "Rocks don't always keep their secrets," she says, "so I have to take them home." She describes actions with a repetitious "this happened so that happened" pattern: "The stone says he will keep my secret, / so I put him in my pocket. / The stone next to him overhears, / so I tell the stone that …" Unfortunately, the very techniques that make the narrative sound authentic also tend to make the book static, like a not particularly interesting monologue. Caldecott Medalist Hogrogian's watercolor illustrations, on the other hand, include lovely impressionistic backgrounds with cartoonlike figures of the girl and animals. Decorative pencil drawings, paired with the text, echo the low-keyed movement in each full-color picture.
Marianne Saccardi (review date March 1994)
SOURCE: Saccardi, Marianne. School Library Journal 40, no. 3 (March 1994): 200.
When a young girl cuts her knee at school, she is bandaged and sent home by the nurse [By Myself ]. As she walks, she engages in imaginary conversations with the animals, plants, and rocks she encounters. As she nears her house, it begins to rain, and after being comforted by her mother, the child watches nature recover from the downpour. Everything is the same as before, though not quite. Each of Hogrogian's watercolor-and-pencil illustrations spreads over a page-and-a-third, while text and a line drawing fill the remaining white space. The last illustration is centered, depicting the young narrator, triumphant after her solo journey, as the center of her universe. The soft, pastel paintings capture the quiet mood of the story. While [David] Kherdian's talent as a poet comes through in some interesting imagery, his message—that the little girl, too, is the same but different after completing her first trip home from school on her own—is couched in a long and sometimes confusing text: "I feel a drop of rain on my cheek. / Soon it is talking to the ground, / and the ground is going everywhere at once, / unable to stop itself." Adults may object to the fact that the nurse allows the girl to go home alone without even calling her mother first. Children are eager to read about the successes of their peers, but there are more engaging books on the subject.
JUNA'S JOURNEY (1993)
Denise Anton Wright (review date April 1993)
SOURCE: Wright, Denise Anton. School Library Journal 39, no. 4 (April 1993): 98.
A disappointing effort from a talented team [Juna's Journey ]. In his small village, Juna comes to be known as the Dream Helper, assisting others through his dreams. One day he dreams for himself and even though he doesn't understand its meaning, he sets off on a journey that takes him across rivers, over ravines, through swamps, and eventually up in the air via balloon. Acquiring helpers at each turn of his trip, Juna discovers that success is only possible through team effort. While it strains for a mystical, allegorical effect, the story is confusing and ultimately boring. For her stylized illustrations, Hogrogian uses a combination of pastel, watercolor and pencil. Dressed in brightly colored clothing, the human figures are outlined in pencil and set against atmospheric watercolor backgrounds. The illustrations are surrounded by simple red-rule borders that interfere with the flow of the story. Burdened with too much text and a difficult plot, this book may have a hard time finding an audience.
Publishers Weekly (review date 26 April 1993)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 240, no. 17 (26 April 1993): 79.
Dream Helper Juna is a Djanig [Juna's Journey ], one of a species of gnomelike folk with longish feet and vaguely medieval garb. One night he receives a vision, from which he determines he is to go on a quest. He sets out, and is joined along the way by other Djanigs, who help him cross rivers, ravines, swamps, mountains and so on to reach their joint goal—a balloon ride into what is apparently a new dimension, or a more advanced level of comprehension (in the book it appears simply as a great light). The rather lengthy tale relies heavily on metaphor and nuance, and although children are certainly capable of grasping these, the story itself isn't compelling enough to motivate them to do so, plagued as it is with vagueness and bogged down by such homilies as "the only danger is your own fear" and "we have to give up what we have in order to get what we do not have." There must be better ways to stress the importance of community than [David] Kherdian's in this ultimately mystifying tale. Even Hogrogian's amiably atmospheric watercolors don't help clear things up.
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS (1995)
Carolyn Phelan (review date 15 September 1995)
SOURCE: Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist 92, no. 2 (15 September 1995): 170.
A reverent retelling of the coming of Christ, this lovely picture book [The First Christmas ] strings passages from the King James Version of the Bible along a simple, narrative strand of plain-spoken text. Full-and double-page oil paintings draw the eye with subtle colors and well-balanced compositions, with the text appearing on plain white pages, occasionally heralded by a small ink drawing of an angel. The subject is one of the most familiar in Western art, but Hogrogian brings her own engaging style to the familiar tableaux of the Annunciation, the Madonna and child, and Epiphany. Although characters resemble real people rather than creche figures, the scenes have a certain dignity that heightens the importance of every event and every gesture. A very appealing interpretation of the first Christmas.
Publishers Weekly (review date 18 September 1995)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 242, no. 38 (18 September 1995): 100.
Two-time Caldecott Medalist Hogrogian's smooth retelling of the Nativity story [The First Christmas ] links together her own concise narrative and passages from the King James Version of the Bible. Offering a traditional visual interpretation of the story, Hogrogian's stunning, at times delicate, oil paintings balance pastel shades with bolder tones. Curiously, almost every image of Mary and Joseph shows their eyes cast downward, which limits the art's ability to capture the individuals' emotions or personalities. A quibble: on some pages, a superfluous line drawing of an angel appears alongside the words, upsetting the symmetry between the carefully arranged text and Hogrogian's graceful art.
Jane Marino (review date October 1995)
SOURCE: Marino, Jane. School Library Journal 41, no. 10 (October 1995): 38.
Reverently presented, this [The First Christmas ] is a lovely rendition of the traditional story of Christmas, using excerpts from two gospels of the King James Bible and fullpage oil paintings that have soft figures and beautiful colors. Most effective are the double-page spreads that have groups of figures—angels, shepherds, or wise men. Representations are traditional, with angels in flowing white robes hovering on soft white clouds; robed and bearded shepherds displaying the right combination of reverence and fear; worshipping wise men kneeling before the babe, gifts in hand; a quiet Mary and Joseph with serene faces and downcast eyes. Blues and greens dominate the palette with a blue-green gown for Mary, dark blues for the skies, and gray-blues for many of the rocks and the cave in which they are pictured. The text and gospel fragments all work together well, creating a narrative that's easy to follow and read. The three elements here, narrative, gospel, and art, create a whole that is inspired in its simplicity and beauty.
Kirkus Reviews(review date 15 October 1995)
SOURCE: Kirkus Reviews 63, no. 20 (15 October 1995): 1493.
The line-drawn angels that appear on nearly every spread give this reverential retelling of the Christmas story [The First Christmas ] a trendy aspect, but the main oil illustrations are lovely in their simplicity and clarity of feeling; the creamy brushwork looks like fresco painting and details of clothing and background are only suggested, drawing viewers' eyes toward the solemn faces of Mary, Joseph, and the rest. Hogrogian (The Cat Who Loved to Sing, 1988) does not handle the text as well: The story, taken from Matthew and Luke of the King James Version, is both paraphrased (in roman typeface) and quoted directly (in italics, with ellipses to show dropped passages). It's a fussy, potentially confusing treatment that interrupts the narrative flow. A heartfelt but slightly off-key voice in the heavenly host of Christmas books.
Elizabeth Bush (review date November 1995)
SOURCE: Bush, Elizabeth. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 49, no. 3 (November 1995): 92-3.
Fear not. These softly rounded figures in traditional Nativity poses [The First Christmas ]do not portend another forgettable retelling, but offer a thoughtful and reverent view of a troubled couple metamorphosing into a Holy Family. Through each deceptively simple oil composition shine expressive countenances that compel viewers to reflect on the well-worn text. Joseph buries head in hand at the news of his fiancée's condition, townspeople barely disguise their shock at the pregnant bride, and the newlyweds set off to Bethlehem with all the glee of taxpayers in April. But the Baby quickly softens his parents, and in successive scenes they regard him with wonder, then affection, then tenderness. Even androgynous angels are deftly individuated, with the hesitant hands and sympathetic eyes of Joseph's messenger and the urgent, outstretched arms of the shepherds' heralds. Hogrogian segues smoothly between italicized passages from the King James gospels of Matthew and Luke; only the angel sketches near the text seem unnecessary ornamentation.
LULLABY FOR EMILY (1995)
Publishers Weekly (review date 13 March 1995)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 242, no. 11 (13 March 1995): 68-9.
Kherdian's lilting lullaby [Lullaby for Emily ] addresses a cherished child named Emily—in spot art she is portrayed as an infant being cuddled by her mother, but in each long stanza (and its accompanying full-or double-page illustration) she is visited in the future, happily engaged in an activity imagined by her mother. Whether Emily is pictured with a puppy or picking wildflowers "to see / does he love me yes, or does he love me not," the tone is hushed and loving, each verse beginning with some variation of "Sleep gently, sweet Emily." Hogrogian's evocative oil paintings depict classic playtime pleasures—jumping in the hay, climbing a tree—and children might find the sweet portraits of the mother and her baby reassuring. Even so, the book is more suitable for a new parent or grandparent than for a toddler because of its complicated depiction of time and such abstract passages as the peaceful ending stanza: "one day brings another, / there is no end to time, / sleep gently, sleep sweetly / for love is all around."
Julie Yates Walton (review date 1 May 1995)
SOURCE: Walton, Julie Yates. Booklist 91, no. 17 (1 May 1995): 1580.
Sleepy (or not-so-sleepy) infants will enjoy the melodious text [Lullaby for Emily ] that the flap copy says is written for them, but this book reaches out to older siblings and parents, too. A mother sings to her newborn, "Sleep gently, sweet Emily, / sleep softly, sleep well, / and when you awaken / we will go and watch the animals." On surrounding pages, the animals are depicted in dreamy, sherbet-hued acrylics on canvas and described with invigorating freshness: a "hooting bear that in the spring/sounds like the owls of the night," for example. The book alternates intimate silhouettes of mother and baby with imagined future scenes as they relish seasonal pleasures such as climbing a linden tree, planting a garden, and tobogganing. The scenes of things to come are intriguingly detailed enough to hook older children and so emotionally charged as to tug at the heartstrings of hope-filled new parents. This collaboration of two sure talents is intelligent, insightful, and moving.
Barbara Peklo Abrahams (review date July 1995)
SOURCE: Abrahams, Barbara Peklo. School Library Journal 41, no. 7 (July 1995): 64-5.
While this is a lullaby [Lullaby for Emily ], there is little lyricism in the text except for the refrain, "Sleep gently, sweet Emily, / sleep softly, sleep well," and variations thereon. The listing of the lovely outdoor things that a mother will share with her daughter when she is older is ordinary. They will watch the animals; build a bluebird house; plant a summer garden; play with a cuddly, warm puppy. Most of the paintings, rendered in oils, are static. The best are the series of spot illustrations featuring mother and baby; a full-page picture of a red fox in a moonlit meadow; and a double-page spread of an older Emily and her parent carrying wild-flowers. Pleasant but bland.
THE GOLDEN BRACELET (1997)
Publishers Weekly (review date 25 May 1998)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 245, no. 21 (25 May 1998): 90.
This rendition [The Golden Bracelet ]of an old Armenian tale about the necessity of having a vocation by husband-and-wife team [David] Kherdian and Hogrogian (Toad and the Green Prince ) lacks conviction. Prince Haig and his companion Vat-tan ride contentedly "across the countryside, laughing, singing, and harmlessly bantering," until Haig falls in love with Anahid, a beautiful peasant girl. She tells him they cannot marry until he learns a trade, a skill that people in her village call a "Golden Bracelet." Thus Haig becomes a master weaver of gold cloth and marries Anahid. When the sorcerer Zilnago later captures Haig, the nobleman communicates his whereabouts to his bride by weaving into a cloth the design of a Golden Bracelet, along with a map and message. While Hogrogian's appealing painting of the festive wedding celebration conveys energy, most of the illustrations, despite the intricate Armenian designs, are static. The artwork combined with the stilted language (e.g., "They rode home in procession, knowing they would rule wisely and well, with knowledge of their people, and with an undying devotion to one another, as well as for their sacred land") and meandering exposition of the plot are off-putting.
Hazel Rochman (review date 1 June 1998)
SOURCE: Rochman, Hazel. Booklist 94, no. 19-20 (1 June 1998): 1770-71.
Get a job, the peasant girl Anahid tells the prince when he asks her to marry him [The Golden Bracelet ], learn a skill. Wealth can be taken away, she says, but a skill is a Golden Bracelet that stays with you forever. And she proves right in this delightful retelling of an old Armenian story, which dramatizes the message with excitement, romance, and cunning. To win Anahid's hand, the indolent, fun-loving Prince Haig learns to weave gold cloth, and he becomes a master weaver, just as she is. They marry and rule the land. Then an evil sorcerer captures Haig, and the king uses his craft to weave a secret message and a map into a cloth that shows his wife where he is being held prisoner. The author and illustrator are husband and wife, and they draw on their Armenian background to tell a story that pulls you into the action and leaves you space to think about it. Hogrogian's folk-art-style paintings are intricately detailed, with rich shades of red and purple. The rhythmic scenes of people on horseback extend the sweep of the story, especially the climactic double-page spread showing Anahid riding with the soldiers to her husband's rescue. Unlike fractured fairy tales, there is no parody here. The feminist message is liberating for both sexes.
Joan Zaleski (review date August 1998)
SOURCE: Zaleski, Joan. School Library Journal 44, no. 8 (August 1998): 152.
In true folklore fashion, love blossoms from a chance encounter when carefree young prince Haig meets the shepherd's daughter Anahid [The Golden Bracelet ]. She warns the prince that "everyone should have a skill, no matter who they are." She calls this skill a "Golden Bracelet" that stays with its possessor forever. To win the young woman's hand, Haig gives up his self-absorbed adventuring and becomes a master weaver. Anahid consents to marry him when she receives a beautiful golden cloth that he himself has woven. After many years of ruling happily as king and queen, the couple is separated when an evil sorcerer kidnaps Haig. The king must then use his weaving skills to trick the sorcerer and warn Anahid of his fate. She leads a battalion of soldiers to rescue him, following the directions he has woven into a tapestry. This story is based on an Armenian folktale, which, as the author notes, emphasizes the importance of craft and common sense in negotiating the pitfalls of life. Though told in a traditional style, the story presents an interesting twist in valuing Anahid's action over Haig's privilege. Hogrogrian's watercolors are done in a primitive folk-art style with brilliant use of warm colors and energetic figures that occasionally spill out over their frames. Though the text focuses on Haig's adventures, the illustrations show Anahid to be brave, beautiful, and intelligent. An entertaining tale of love and wisdom.
THE TIGER OF TURKESTAN (2002)
Publishers Weekly (review date 26 August 2002)
SOURCE: Publishers Weekly 249, no. 34 (26 August 2002): 67.
"Do something nobody else does!" are the dying words of Little Tiger's grandmamma [The Tiger of Turkestan ]. Little Tiger is a particularly reflective feline—in Hogrogian's (Always Room for One More ; One Fine Day ) most striking picture, his orange eyes peer out with poignant intensity from a scrim of emerald leaves. But at first, Little Tiger can only interpret her advice in terms of playful behavior: "If the other tigers ran forward, Little Tiger was sure to run backward. When the tigers raced to the watering hole, Little Tiger hopped all the way." As Little Tiger matures into a more imposing figure and travels the world, his understanding and sense of self deepens. "One day when Tiger's heart was full, he began to dance." Thus he discovers his calling: to be a teacher of dance to other animals, "one who helped others to find joy in being themselves." The soft-spoken earnestness of the text (the book is dedicated to the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff) may make this title more suitable to adults, and the renderings of the protagonist vary in their success—at times, there's an awkward bulkiness to his physique. Still, the strength in Tiger's eyes is unmistakable, and Hogrogian's watercolors demonstrate a lovely quietude and restraint reminiscent of traditional Asian painting. Contemplatively inclined children may well appreciate Tiger's mission.
Susan Pine (review date April 2003)
SOURCE: Pine, Susan. School Library Journal 49, no. 4 (April 2003): 122.
Little Tiger [The Tiger of Turkestan ], born in the shadows of Mount Ararat, hears his grandmother's last words, "In this life, never do as others do!" He carefully contemplates those words and then proceeds to play differently from the other tigers. Growing up, he travels great distances pondering the meaning of life until the time comes when he dances himself into "a state of ecstasy," because he has come to the realization that his differences define him. Animals flock to him in order to learn his ways and thus he becomes "a great teacher of dancing." There are no source notes or author's explanations for this tale. The text does not proceed in any logical or thoughtful manner that would account for Tiger's transformation into Terpsichore. The gentle illustrations on white pages do little to enhance this misguided effort.
Nonny Hogrogian Papers. de Grummond Colleciton, University of Southern Mississippi, 1963-1974.
Collection of Hogrogian's papers.
Hogrogian, Nonny. "Nonny Hogrogian." In Third Book of Junior Authors, edited by Doris De Montreville and Donna Hill, pp. 136-37. New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1972.
Hogrogian recounts her formative years.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. "Nonny Hogrogian." In Books Are By People, pp. 103-06. New York: Citation Press, 1969.
Profiles Hogrogian during the early days of her career.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 22, no. 2 (October 1968): 36.
Review of The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 29, no. 4 (December 1975): 64.
Review of Handmade Secret Hiding Places.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 30, no. 8 (April 1977): 126.
Review of The Contest: An Armenian Folktale.
Emergency Librarian 16, no. 1 (September 1988): 46.
Review of The Cat Who Loved to Sing.
Kirkus Reviews 45, no. 13 (1 July 1977): 666.
Review of Carrot Cake.
Kirkus Reviews 49, no. 12 (15 June 1981): 735.
Review of Cinderella.
Kirkus Reviews 51, no. 21 (1 November 1983): 186.
Review of Right Now.
Lafian, Michael John. School Library Journal 23, no. 3 (November 1976): 48.
Review of The Contest: An Armenian Folktale.
Lanes, Selma G. New York Times Book Review (19 September 1971): 8.
Review of One Fine Day.
Lanes, Selma. New York Times Book Review (5 November 1972): 44.
Review of The Hermit and Harry and Me.
Long, Sidney D. Horn Book Magazine 47, no. 6 (December 1971): 604.
Review of One Fine Day.
Moss, Elaine. Times Literary Supplement, no. 3915 (25 March 1977): 355.
Review of The Contest: An Armenian Folktale.
New Statesman 84, no. 2173 (10 November 1972): 697.
Review of One Fine Day.
New York Times Book Review (7 May 1972): 38.
Review of Apples.
New York Times Book Review (11 August 1974): 23.
Review of One Fine Day.
New York Times Book Review (26 April 1981): 66.
Review of Cinderella.
Nissenson, Hugh. New York Times Book Review (8 October 1967): 38.
Review of The Fearsome Inn.
Ostermann, Robert. "To Russia, With Love." New York Times Book Review (5 May 1968): 42.
Review of The Story of Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Grey Wolf.
The Spectator no. 7533 (11 November 1972): 762.
Review of One Fine Day.
"As Old as the Hills." Times Literary Supplement, no. 3692 (8 December 1972): 1498.
Review of One Fine Day.
Whedon, Julia. "Homer, Billy, Nate, and Friends." New York Times Book Review 77, no. 45 (5 November 1972): 34.
Review of Billy Goat and His Well-Fed Friends.
Wilson Library Bulletin 50, no. 4 (December 1975): 290.
Review of Handmade Secret Hiding Places.
Additional coverage of Hogrogian's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Children's Literature Review, Vol. 2; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 2, 49; Literature Resource Center ; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Eds. 1, 2; Something about the Author, Vols. 7, 74, 127; and Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Vol. 1.