The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection mourns the loss of our good friend, Marc Simont. Mr. Simont placed a significant amount of his work here and joined us at the CT Children’s Book Fair four times between 1993 and 2002. He was talented, charming and witty, and will be sincerely missed.
The finding aid at Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center describes Mr. Simont:
Marc Simont was born November 23, 1915, in Paris, France to Joseph and Dolores Simont from the Catalonian region of northeastern Spain. Joseph was an illustrator and artist/reporter for L’Illustration in Paris. Because his parents moved frequently Marc attended schools in Paris, Barcelona, and New York and became a U.S. citizen in 1926. Though he later attended art schools he considered his father his greatest teacher. He studied art in Paris at Académie Julian, Académie Ranson, and Andre Lhoté School. In the U.S. he attended the New York National Academy of Design and Jerry Farnsworth’s summer school in Provincetown, Mass. He worked as assistant to mural painters Francis S. Bradford (1939 N. Y. World’s Fair) and Ezra Winter (Library of Congress).
Simont’s first illustration job was for a pulp magazine that folded before he could collect his $25. Eventually he became an author and illustrator of children’s books, greatly influenced by Ursula Nordstrom, editor of Harper Bros. He illustrated books by Ruth Krauss, James Thurber, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, Karla Kuskin among others. His illustrations for Janice May Udry’s A Tree is Nice won the Caldecott Medal in 1957, and he received Caldecott Honors for his pictures in Ruth Krauss’s The Happy Day and his own The Stray Dog. Simont has also been recognized by the Child Study Association, Society of Illustrators, N.Y. Academy of Sciences, N.J. Institute of Technology, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor. In 2008 his political cartoons were awarded the Hunter College James Aronson Award for “Cartooning With A Conscience.”
This curator’s favorite book is The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, by Karla Kuskin, published in 1982 by Harper and Row. Kuskin’s story, in which “one hundred and five people are getting dressed to go to work” is accompanied by Simont’s illustrations showing the musicians bathing, dressing, traveling to the concert hall, and “turning the black notes on white pages into a symphony.”
A wonderful story about Simont is retold in his obituary which appeared in the New York Times on July 16, 2013. Simont and Robert McCloskey lived together in Greenwich Village when McCloskey was working on his classic Make Way for Ducklings. In order to study ducklings more thoroughly for his drawings and with Simont’s assent, he brought home a family of ducklings which lived in the bathtub for several months.
Rest in peace, Mr. Simont.
–Terri J. Goldich