A nice incident came around this past week as the American Book Collectors of Children’s Literature newsletter carried my longish piece on children’s book author/illustrator Holling Clancy Holling. (See www.abcocl.org and click on Vol. 20 No. 2 in the Archives.) HCH has fascinated me since childhood, as much for his magnificent drawings as for the curiosity of a man who named himself twice. Paddle-to-the-Sea, Tree in the Trail, Seabird and the other Houghton-Mifflin titles are luxurious in their drawings and sidebar intelligence.
This was a writer whose books are still in print almost 70 years after winning a Caldecott prize. Curiously, there’s very little in print about HCH, and biographies are limited to the most obvious details. However, a librarian near Holling’s home county came to my rescue with “hometown” information, and a researcher at the Leslie (MI) Area Historical Museum offered a bounty of undiscovered details. After more than a year of doing detective work into his life, I’m sure there’s a great deal I still don’t know about him. But it’s this serendipity in tracking down clues and details that made this a rewarding project.