BARBARA COONEY, 1917-2000
American author Barbara Cooney, recipient of numerous awards including two Caldecott Medals and an American Book Award, was a talented writer and illustrator of over 100 children’s books. Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1917, she moved with her family to Connecticut where she attended the Buckley Day School and later boarding school. Drawing and painting at an early age, she was encouraged to learn on her own by her mother, an artist in her own right. She received a history degree at Smith College in 1938 and studied lithography and etching at the Art Students League in New York.
Her first Caldecott Medal came for her book Chanticleer and the Fox, published in 1959, writing and illustrating her version of the fable. Her second was for Ox-Car Man. Each award influenced the direction in her career, moving her from illustrator to writer and illustrator. Her children’s book trilogy of Miss Rumphius, winner of the American Book Award, Island Boy and Hattie of the Wild Waves might be considered her autobiography. Basket Moon, her last book, was published six months before her death.
She reared four children with her second husband, Dr. Charles Talbot Porter, while he practiced medicine in Pepperell, MA. Later she moved to Damariscotta, Maine, where she lived until her death in 2000.
Providing generations of children with intelligent, beautiful children’s books, she ascribed to the philosophy she gave to Miss Rumphius, one of her most-beloved characters, who said, “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”