Robert’s Snow – Juli Kangas & her Cozy Snowflake

Robert’s Snow is an auction of snowflakes painted/created/donated by some astounding Children’s Book illustrators. (Click here for official information. Here for other artists being profiled today as part of the wondrous Blogging For a Cure project.)

Today, one Rober’ts Snow artist, Cece Bell, writes about the work of another Robert’s Snow Artist, Juli Kangas:

Kangas’ Snowflake: A Cozy Night for Cuddling Up

kangasflake1.jpg

Juli Kangas is The Master of Cozy.

Her delightfully detailed drawings of animals wearing period clothing may initially make you think of Beatrix Potter, but look again and you will find that Kangas has created a unique world of her own.

The animals in Dennis Haseley’s Photographer Mole (2004) and in her own The Surprise Visitor (2005) are expressive and beautifully clothed, but what I like best is how she depicts excitingly believable places for her animals to live in. Kangas loves patterns and repitition: leaves and berries and stones; the animal-made stone walls (in Photographer Mole — AMAZING!) and furnishings and bookshelves and doorways; even the animals’ clothing with its ruffles and pinstripes and flowers on hats. The repitition of patterns and details contribute to the believability of Kangas’ world, which is the coziest I’ve ever seen, and quite possibly the most endearing.

The Surprise Visitor

 I had the same sensation, upon looking at her illustrations, that I have whenever I read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden: How do I get inside the garden? PLEASE let me inside! I love Tasha Tudor’s illustrations for The Secret Garden, but I think Kangas could do her own take on it beautifully.

 I was not able to find any of her books at my local libraries or at my local bookstores, which is an outrage. I used amazon.com to find as many images as I could from the books mentioned above, and am hoping to find more by simply purchasing some of her books.

As to Kangas’ snowflake, it, too, is a superb depiction of coziness. A small circle within a collage of printed text shows a small child, reading a book in bed with his teddy bear. Again she uses patterns and repititions (stars outside the window, window panes, quilt squares, and curtain folds) to make the scene super-cozy, and masterfully keeps it all under control.

 I was not able to find a website for Juli Kangas, so I wasn’t able to reach her for an interview. What I found out from a book flap (it felt like cheating for a book report!) is that she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, received a BFA in Illustration from the University of Kansas, is a full-time artist, and has two children. She is also, judging from the artist’s photo, cute as a button.

Here’s hoping that she has more books a-coming! Juli, if you see this, get your mitts on The Secret Garden and have at it!

–Cece Bell

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8 Responses

  1. I loveLOVElove how the text surrounds the reader! This is one of my new favorites!

  2. A child, a book, a teddy bear, and WORDS all around? I think I have found THE ONE!! I LOVE COZY!! Thanks for this feature.

  3. Photographer Mole looks like my kind of book. And words falling like snow all around a reading child? Oh, my. Lovely.

  4. Lovely, indeed! That is a great snowflake! Thanks, Sam and Cece, for this nice write-up, esp. when you had trouble finding books and the author. It’s still a great read. I can feel Cece’s passion for the art work emanating from my computer screen.

  5. Ohhh. I’d never seen this work before. Yes, definitely Secret Garden! I love it! I love the detail, the tiny, exquisite details that show an artist who is passionate about her topic. Lovely. And the words on the snowflake — I can’t get the gist of what it is, but words like peaceful, grateful, poem, skitter, unceasing, return… make me just know it’s a fabulous book to read, under blankets.

    I really want this one….

  6. What an incredibly sweet snowflake. Thanks, Sam and Cece. I love this one and the cover of “The Surprise Visitor.”

  7. […] don’t miss Cece Bell’s write-up on her observations of the work of Juli Kangas at Sam Riddleburger’s blog. It’s a good […]

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