Mabel’s been looking up information about the Flower Fairy illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker, and since my mom had just ordered a book about female illustrators, we went to look at it, and my mom ended up also pulling out binders full of vintage paper doll reproductions and vintage magazine illustrations for us to look at. We had a lot of fun looking at all the pretty things. When we were about to leave, my mom asked Mabel to pick up a piece of paper that had fallen under a chair. My mom had been going through some of her mother’s things, and said the paper had been among them.
It was two pieces of paper taped together, with a hand drawing in red and black ink, of a girl holding a teetering pile of food. I looked at it and said, “I know exactly what that is.” It was a version of an illustration from my favorite childhood Golden Treasury of Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund in 1959. (I grew up memorizing poems out of this book, and they’ve been a happy influence throughout my life.) After a few seconds of thinking hard, I was even able to recite the first stanza of the poem.
We have no idea what the drawing was doing in my grandma’s things, nor who drew it. (Mom, Mabel wants you to scan that drawing and send it to us right away, so we can study it more.) But it’s amazing to me that I was almost certainly the only person my mom knows who would have immediately recognized the drawing, and I was right there to tell her what it was.