Born in Dresden, Germany; immigrated to United States. Education: Duke University, B.A., 1968, M.F.A., 1970; studied printmaking at Santa Reparata Studio, Florence, Italy.
Home—MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, David R. Godine, Publisher, 9 Hamilton Place, Boston, MA 02108-4715. E-mail—[email protected]
Reteller and illustrator of children's books. School for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, art instructor; art teacher at schools, including Iowa State University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Minnesota, and University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, c. 1970s. Exhibitions: Lincoln Public Library, Lincoln, MA; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln; and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Caldecott Honor designation, 1980, for The Bremen Town Musicians and 2004, for The Farmer in the Dell; Ezra Jack Keats Award, 1985.
The Bremen Town Musicians, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1980, reprinted, 1998.
The Story of Befana: An Italian Christmas Tale, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1981.
The Shoemaker and the Elves, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1991.
The Christmas Witch, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1991.
(And editor) Lullaby and Goodnight: Songs and Poems for Babies, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit; or, How Toys Become Real, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1983.
Jane Langton, The Hedgehog Boy: A Latvian Folktale, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1985.
Nancy Willard, Night Story, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1986.
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Charlotte Zolotow, Sleepy Book, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1988.
Twelve Days of Christmas, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, 2005.
Jane Langton, Salt: From a Russian Folktale, translated by Alice Plume, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1992.
Jane Langton, The Queen's Necklace: A Swedish Folktale, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
The Farmer in the Dell, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 2004.
Ilse Plume was born in Dresden, Germany, but her family immigrated to the United States when she was a child. Her love for drawing developed early in childhood and continued throughout her adolescent years. After spending time as an art instructor at various universities, Plume published her first self-illustrated book, The Bremen Town Musicians. A retelling of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, the work was selected as a Caldecott Honor Book on the strength of Plume's artwork. Other books illustrated by Plume include the traditional stories The Story of Befana: An Italian Christmas Tale and The Farmer in the Dell, as well as original picture books by well-known writers Nancy Willard, Charlotte Zolotow, and Margery Williams. While not working on her own projects, Plume works as a fine-arts painter and teaches at schools in her native Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Plume's work accompanying The Farmer in the Dell was described as "delicate, colored-pencil illustrations" that give the traditional story "an old-fashioned feel," according to School Library Journal reviewer Robin L. Gibson. Booklist critic Ilene Cooper wrote of the same title that "Plume's colored-pencil artwork has a timeless quality and depth." With The Twelve Days of Christmas Plume "adds another outstandxing accomplishment to her credit," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly.
Several titles featuring Plume's illustrations have accompanied Jane Langton's folk-story retellings, among them The Hedgehog Boy: A Latvian Folktale, Salt: From a Russian Folktale, and The Queen's Necklace: A Swedish Folktale. Of the illustrations in Salt, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "Plume's richly patterned illustrations are filled with Russian folklore motifs and framed in decorative golden borders." The Queen's Necklace "features art that is airy and light in color," wrote Booklist reviewer Julie Corsaro.
Continuing to mine the rich vein of traditional children's literature, Plume collects songs and poetry in Lullaby and Goodnight: Songs and Poems for Babies. Most of the selections are well-known poems and songs, and include Johannes Brahms's classic "Lullaby" and the folk song "Kentucky Babe." Calling the book "nostalgic," a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed Plume's work "an old-fashioned Valentine to the very young."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, October 15, 1992, Carolyn Phelan, review of Salt: From a Russian Folktale, p. 434; October 1, 1994, Julie Corsaro, review of The Queen's Necklace: A Swedish Folktale, p. 327; September 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Farmer in the Dell, p. 247.
Five Owls, November, 1991, review of The Shoemaker and the Elves, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Farmer in the Dell, p. 873.
Publishers Weekly, June 26, 1987, review of The Bremen Town Musicians, p. 75; June 10, 1988, Kimberly Olson Fakih and Diane Roback, review of Sleepy Book, p. 78; September 14, 1990, Diane Roback and Richard Donahue, review of The Twelve Days of Christmas, p. 123; September 21, 1992, review of Salt, p. 94; September 5, 1994, review of Lullaby and Goodnight: Songs and Poems for Babies, p. 111.
School Library Journal, December, 1988, Anna Biagioni Hart, review of Sleepy Book, p. 96; October, 1990, Susan Helper, review of The Twelve Days of Christmas, p. 40; January, 1992, Martha Rosen, review of The Shoemaker and the Elves, p. 102; December, 1992, Denise Anton Wright, review of Salt, p. 97; October, 1994, Sally R. Dow, review of Lullaby and Goodnight, p. 114; October, 1994, Donna L. Scanlon, review of The Queen's Necklace, p. 110; December, 2004, Robin L. Gibson, review of The Farmer in the Dell, p. 128.
Ilse Plume Home Page, http://www.ilseplume.com (April 8, 2006).