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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Children’s Illustrators and The New Yorker

My husband Matt pairs well with me for a number of reasons.  Amongst them is our mutual inclination to collect things we love.  As such, Matt has systematically been holding onto all his issues of The New Yorker ever since he got his subscription in college.  Over the years these issues have piled up piled up piled up.  I was a Serials Manager before I got my library degree and one of the perks of the job was getting lots of lovely magazine holders. For years these holders graced the tops of our bookshelves and even came along with us when we moved into our current apartment a year ago.  Yet with the arrival of our puir wee bairn, we decided to do the unthinkable.

Yes.  We ripped off all their covers.

Well, most anyway.  We have the complete run of New Yorker text on CD-ROM anyway, and anything published after the CD-ROM’s release would be online.  Thus does the internet discourage hoarding.

In the meantime, we now are the proud owners of only three boxes worth of New Yorker covers.  They’re very fun to look at.  I once had the desire to wallpaper my bathroom in such covers, but that dream will have to wait (as much as I love New York apartments and all . . .).  For now, it’s just fun to flip through the covers themselves and, in flipping, I discovered something.  Sure, I knew that the overlap between illustrators of children’s books and illustrators of New Yorkers was frequent.  I just didn’t know how frequent it was.  Here then is a quickie encapsulation of some of the folks I discovered in the course of my cover removal.

Istan Banyai

Zoom and Re-Zoom continue to circulate heavily in my library, all thanks to Banyai.  I had a patron the other day ask if we had anything else that was similar but aside from Barbara Lehman all I could think of was Wiesner’s Flotsam.  Banyai is well known in a different way for New Yorker covers, including this controversial one.  As I recall, a bit of a kerfuffle happened when it was published back in the day.

Harry Bliss

Author and illustrator of many many picture books, it’s little wonder that the Art Editor of The New Yorker, Ms. Francoise Mouly, managed to get the man to do a TOON Book (Luke on the Loose) as well.  And when it comes to his covers, this is the one I always think of first.

Barry Blitt

Blitt’s been doing more and more children’s literature lately, one of his 2011 efforts being The Adventures of Mark Twain.  I wasn’t necessarily going to include him here, but when I saw this cover . . . well, how could I resist?

George Booth

He always makes me laugh.  Whether it’s his version of Never Tease a Weasel or Starlight Goes to Town, the man’s a hoot.  Doesn’t do many covers, mind you, but that’s okay.  Hoot.

Roz Chast

It’s a bit of a stretch including Chast here since her forays into children’s books haven’t been all that numerous.  Still, once in a while she’ll give children’s book illustration the old college try, and we respect her efforts … with the possible exception of that woeful Steve Martin book… bleagh.  Give me a cover like this over a book like that any day.

Raul Colon

Here’s one of the first big surprises.  Colon doing a New Yorker cover?  Indeed he did it at least once.  Hard not to recognize the man’s style.  I’d pick it out of a line-up anywhere.

Peter de Seve

He’s done the odd book here and there (no odder or better than the beautiful Duchess of Whimsy with his wife Randall de Seve).  But New Yorker covers?  They abound!  It was very hard to pick and choose amongst them but for today my favorite will have to be this:

Ian Falconer

I confess to you that this is just the first of several New Yorker cover pieces I’m thinking of doing.  And if I get around to them, the first I’ll do will be a piece on Ian Falconer.  Long before his Olivia became famous, Falconer was a New Yorker staple.  Olivia came out in 2000, so I’m sure more than one kid had a sense of deja vu when they spied this cover sitting on their parents’ coffee tables:

Marcellus Hall

That was a real shock.  This is the only Hall cover I’ve been able to locate, but it’s proof enough that the man has at least one to his name.  You’ve probably seen his work on books like Karma Wilson’s The Cow Loves Cookies and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love.  Neat.

William Joyce

These days he’s conquering the world of picture book apps.  Long before that, though, Joyce used to do New Yorker covers.  No longer.  He still does children’s books, though, most notably this year’s The Man in the Moon.  Still, I miss the days when getting The New Yorker could yield something like this:

Ana Juan

I wasn’t surprised that Ms. Juan (the genius behind The Night Eater and illustrating this year’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making) did the occasional cover.  In my search, however, I found that she’s done a lot of “meaningful” ones that I wouldn’t normally associate with her name.  This will be explained in a future post.  In the meantime, dig that style:

Maira Kalman

The author of the Max series as well as this year’s collaboration with Daniel Handler on the YA novel Why We Broke Up, Kalman has done several covers over the years.  But were you aware that New Yorkistan was hers?

Edward Koren

He’ll always be a cartoonist first and foremost to me, but Koren has certainly done his fair share of books like the upcoming Alan Katz title Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking.  Interestingly, he hasn’t a lot of covers to his name.

Gary Larson

Yep.  Gary Larson did a cover.  Just take that in, won’t you?

Bruce McCall

Until I had a pile of them sorted before me I had no idea that McCall was as prolific a New Yorker artist as he was!  The man’s a veritable one man cover factory!  When he’s not illustrating books like Marveltown, that is.  I picked this image because I like that it features the same little fireboat as you’ll find in the picture book Fireboat illustrated by the aforementioned Maira Kalman.  It all ties together.

Christoph Niemann

There’s a surprise!  Niemann has a tendency to hide his signature on his covers, so it took me an awfully long time before I realized that the author of books like Subway and this year’s That’s How has a roster of New Yorkers to his name.  I like the already dated quality of this one.


It’s a toss-up to say whether Sempé, Blitt, or Bruce McCall have done the most New Yorker covers out of any children’s author/illustrators.  I think Sempé (at least partly responsible for the charming Nicholas novels for kids) has an edge in this contest, though.  I chose this cover partly because it’s a lovely example of his simple storytelling, often involving children.

Maurice Sendak

Didn’t know he did a cover?  Neither did I.  Though it resembles nothing so much as an ad for his We’re All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy (which, looking at the date, isn’t too surprising) it still makes for a neat cover.  It’s the only one I found too.  Apparently it was a one time deal (unless he did one prior to this, which is possible).

Art Spiegelman

When your wife’s the Art Director it’s inevitable that you’ll be roped into a cover or two.  Spiegelman has done his own fair share of picture and TOON Books for kids.  This cover has an equally kid-friendly feel.  I just like how well it sums up the month of March too.

Bob Staake

Bob’s one of those guys that I encountered as a picture book author/illustrator long before I realized that I’d been seeing his covers for years.  This is a pretty atypical Staake, but I like the feel and flow of it.

William Stieg

Ah, it’s hard not to miss him.  His picture books guarantee his immortality (long after the movie of Shrek has faded from our minds, the book will remain) but his work with the New Yorker should be remembered for as long as humanly possible.  Sometimes they just feel good.

Not trying to be comprehensive I’ve certainly left off some folks like Sorrel, BEK,  and Viva, though they’ve done children’s books as well.  Consider this a vague overview more than anything else.

For more, be sure to check out the Jules Danielson piece The New Yorker Effect at Kirkus and the other one she wrote at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Thank you so much for this retrospective! So lovely to see a Gary Larson cover in there, I had no idea! I’m going to have to check out more of Marcellus Hall, I love that cover.
    I also love the covers by Richard McGuire, creator of books like The Orange Book and Night Becomes Day. Check out this old blog entry I wrote, , for some of his covers!

  2. Fascinating. I knew of some of them, but. . .


  3. Linda Urban says

    I love this article Betsy.
    For about a year or so, when my son was small, he thought the magazine was about an individual guy who was The New Yorker. My boy scanned every cover looking for glimpses of the guy in a “Where’s Waldo?” sort of way and a few of those covers became favorites of his. He still has a small stack of them in his room.

  4. Great list. Also Charles Martin, Ludwig Bemelmans, Joseph Low, James Thurber (did he illustrate a children’s book? I don’t think so. But he wrote several of my favorites), Roger Duvoisin, James Stevenson, John O’Brien, Roxie Munro, Gretchen Dow Simpson (she did an alphabet book years ago) and probably more.

    Fact: our basement is completely filled with New Yorkers.

    Fact: Almost all of these illustrious illustrators who also do children’s books are men. Hmm. Yet a bunch of women did covers as well.

  5. Thanks for this – has brightened up my lunch time coffee no end!

  6. You can add me to the list though my covers and spots came out when you were probably just a tot! Interesting post.

  7. Love this; thanks so much for compiling.

  8. This is great to look through; thanks! What you can’t tell from looking is that some of these illustrators were New Yorker illustrators who were approached by New-Yorker-reading editors or art directors, and others were book illustrators before they became New Yorker cover artists. I am guessing that the Sendak one is the only case of The New Yorker approaching a book illustrator.

    If I may pile on with suggestions for more, you could also include Ross MacDonald and Douglas Florian. I was going to say Marisabina Russo but she said it herself, and she said it, according to the indication on the post, almost three hours after I am writing this now. How did she do that?

    About that wonderful NewYorkistan picture– I don’t know how it was credited in the magazine, but it was created jointly by Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz.

  9. I wrote this for Kirkus recently——-and started a list of those editorial illustrators who migrated to children’s book illustration. This post is PERFECT and adds to my list (which exists for no other reason than to just….exist). Bravo to this post!

  10. Victoria Stapleton says

    And now there is Frank Viva, whose first book is ALONG A LONG ROAD (Little, Brown).

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I found a Viva cover that looks identical to Along a Long Road but didn’t get a chance to include it.

      Jules I wondered if you’d done a New Yorker piece but neglected to check Kirkus. Consider yourself linked.

      Wish I could get my hands on the covers of other artists mentioned. Didn’t know about Roxie.

  11. Genevieve says

    As a long-time New Yorker reader, I adore this post. Many of these covers look so familiar to me, I remember seeing them originally, but most of them I had not known were done by children’s book illustrators. Now I need to go find their books!

  12. Foundation for Children's Books says

    Great post and congrats on your New Yorker clean-out! An illustrator I hope will have a cover soon is Edel Rodriguez (Sergio books). I was surprised to see his work in an editorial illustration in the magazine a while back–which led me to his website. This guy can do anything–opera posters, book covers, snowboards! I love Sergio and given Rodriguez’ range, I bet we’ll see more and very different illustration for children coming from him soon.

  13. Betsy, you can see the covers online at the New Yorker site. But you probably know that already. It’s searchable.

  14. Yep, I’ve done 14 covers. Started before I started creating children’s books…

  15. My son Jason Stemple did a cover for The New Yorker in art school, though it was never published! I adored it. Now, of course, fifteen children;s books later as a photographer. . .



  16. Not sure if illustrator Owen Smith counts? He did one maybe two picture books and has been featured a couple times on the cover of the New Yorker.

  17. Great post, Betsy. The Sendak cover does explicitly refer to Jack and Guy (as you note), but it’s also a tribute to Ruth Krauss, who died earlier that year. One child naps on A Hole Is to Dig. Another — with Kraussishly curly hair — holds a copy of her I Can Fly.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Wow! I had no idea. Thanks, Phil! I wonder if the New Yorker was aware of the tribute?

  18. I do believe motherhood has actually heightened your bloggy creative powers, Betsy – this is such a fun and refreshing post! Thanks for brightening our day.

  19. BB – I’ve been saving and hanging up NEW YORKER covers since I was 15. Yes, 15. Other boys: babes, baseball, Bruce (Springsteen). Me: Booth, Benoit, Bob (Knox).

    This continued in college. Junior year, they went not only up the wall but across the ceiling too.

    You nailed it – they’re perfect for bathroom decoration. Or hallway. Or ceiling.

  20. Well, as usual you’ve written a post that makes me ponder the odds that you’re actually clairvoyant – I was just wondering how many children’s authors have done New Yorker covers due to the current issue (Aug. 1), which is yet another by Ian Falconer. Terrific stuff (both the covers and the blog post)!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when I saw that Falconer cover. It just fit in so beautifully.

  21. If I search the AH for my Barbarian I am still seeing class specific items for classes other than the Barbarian. This was happening pre-patch 7 and is still happening.swtor credits

  22. Margaret Hall says

    Nice post. Marcellus Hall has done two covers for the New Yorker. March 7, 2005 and the one shown here, December 15, 2008.


  1. […] pretty amazing illustrators to do their covers, and one blogger noticed that many of them have a connection to children’s books. Ian Falconer is definitely my favorite. He writes the Olivia books. * But you shouldn’t […]