I recently had a flashback to a book I loved when I was a kid. The Twelve Dancing Princesses, which is a Grimm fairy tale, is a book I loved to look at, daydream over and to sketch the pictures of the beautiful ladies depicted. I'm going to sum up a rather futile attempt of trying to locate a used copy my long lost book armed only with a memory of images and without names or dates or publishers. Suffice it to say, after spending $12 on one from Alibris and not getting what I hoped, I asked my mom if she knew what happened to my copy and it went a little something like this:
"Oh, that's a Little Golden Book. It was my favorite when I was a kid. I drew all the princes and their pageboy haircuts, and the princess in their gowns. Yeah, it's with all my other prized Little Golden books in the basement.""Oh, it was yours? Huh, I didn't know that" (read: *oh, I don't think so, lady...*)
Moral of the story: ask Mom first, then steal her stuff.
I would like to share the brilliance of the illustrations here for you (in one of my first multi-imaged posts!) and you can see for yourself how just mesmerizing this book was for a little girl- indeed, as an adult all these years later I am so impressed with Sheilah Beckett's style. Sad to say, there is little on the internet about this talented woman, besides the books she illustrated.
Her style is typical of the era- 1954- but she had the most incredible sense of balance and composition. Just take a look at the negative space between the figures... the shapes are just perfect- as is every line- and exaggerated ribbon and strand of hair- and every fold in the crisp flowing gowns. I love the way most images fit neatly into a square- that the the characters are dynamic and fluid and they remind one of ballet dancers or the cast from a Gene Kelly movie. Technicolor was hot in the films and it is evident that it was all the rage on paper as well through these rich jewel-toned illustrations.
Aren't they lovely? I hope you will let your inner little girl soak them up with wonderment.