By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
Your Subtitle text

Speaking the language of children

Photo by James Glover II: "I am very influenced by the artwork of children," says Simms Taback, in his home studio. Creative in varied ways, Taback even made his own light table. He’ll share his life and art at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Museum of Ventura County.

'I Miss You Every Day' is latest book by Ventura resident

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Ventura County Star

Growing up in the Bronx, Simms Taback wanted to pursue a degree in engineering after graduating from Music and Art High School.

But his goals soon changed when his creative talents took over.

Today, the Ventura County resident and award-winning children's author and illustrator has a new book, "I Miss You Every Day," which made the New York Times' best-seller list several weeks in a row.

Inspired by the Woody Guthrie song "I'm Gonna Mail Myself To You," the book "is an exploration from a child's point of view to miss someone you love," said Taback, 75, of Ventura.

He is famous for illustrations for many children's books, including the Caldecott Medal-winning "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly" and "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat."

With his latest book, "I tried to explore the emotional side of what it feels like to be lonely, what it feels like to miss someone," he said. "It became a story about something that's cute to something that's more emotional."

While writing the book, which generally targets 4- to 8-year-olds, Taback tried not to be too morbid or serious.

"I kept it quite light," emphasized Taback, who has three grown children. "I think a child who wouldn't be in this situation would enjoy it, too. The best children's stories are really quite emotional, even if they seem simple. They're often deceptively simple but touch many chords."

Such is the reputation earned by Taback, known for his picture books, posters and Smithsonian calendars and his own line of greeting cards.

Throughout his career, he was a graphic artist with CBS Records and a designer for the New York Times.

He also was a teacher at the School of Visual Arts and Syracuse University and has illustrated for more than 35 children's books.

Although proficient in many media, his specialties are pen and ink and watercolor for his illustrations, for which he has won more than 100 art awards.

His works are included in the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, and he served for two years as president of the Illustrators Guild and five years as president of the New York Graphics Artists Guild. He is a member of the Society of Illustrators and has been named twice to the Best Illustrated Books list for the New York Times.

"When a simple story touches emotional strings, that's where the best children's picture books come from," he said. "The best ones look simple, but they are not simple to do."

When creating a picture book, Taback tries to get children involved in reading, "even if it's early level, 4 to 8 years old," he said. Especially when writing for very young children, "I have to write simply telling the story using the words and the pictures together."

Though he's not anti-technology, "I think TV and digital games are really interfering with kids' educations," Taback continued. "When they watch TV and see commercials every seven to 12 minutes, it interferes with their ability to concentrate."

His craft "is one of the ways I'm trying to have an impact on children that they should read," Taback said.

"So when they get a little older, past picture-book age, they stick with it and stay interested in books."

On a personal level, Taback loves how pictures and words are a unique way to tell a story.

"That has always interested me," he said.

'I Miss You Every Day'

Available at all major bookstores.

Hardcover, 40 Pages, Penguin Group (USA) Inc., September 2007

Author: Simms Taback

Illustrator: Simms Taback

List price: $16.99

Website Builder