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Elizabeth Orton Jones (1910-2005) Biography


See index for SATA sketch: Born June 25, 1910, in Highland Park, IL; died May 10, 2005, in Peterborough, NH. Illustrator and author. Jones was a Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator of children's books. Interested in writing and art from an early age, she won the Silver Cup for English composition at the House in the Pines school in Norton, Massachussets, before enrolling at the University of Chicago. There, she earned a Ph.D. in 1932 after only three years of study. She continued on to France to study at the École des Beaux Arts, earning a diploma in 1932. Next, she studied art under Camille Liausu, and it was while working at Liausu's studio that she began illustrating children at play as a way to loosen up her art and portray more motion in her artwork. After returning to the United States and exhibiting her pieces at the Smithsonian Institute, Jones, who had toyed with the idea of creating children's books for some time, created the characters of Mich and Tobie. She drew a series of artworks featuring these two French children and accompanied the illustrations with text. This developed into her debut children's book, Ragman of Paris and His Ragamuffins (1937). She continued with a successful career after that, writing and illustrating her own books, as well as illustrating other authors' texts. Among the latter was 1944's Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field, which won the 1945 Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children's book. Beginning in 1940, Jones learned much more about book production by working with William and Lillian Glaser at their company in Long Island City, New York. The first product of this association was Maminka's Children (1940). Other books by Jones include Twig (1942) and How Far Is It to Bethlehem? (1955). When the Crotched Mountain Center, a rehabilitation community for disabled children, opened in 1953 in Greenfield, New Hampshire, Jones began an association with the facility that would last for years. This started when she was commissioned to paint several murals for the center, but she soon became much more involved in working directly with the children by encouraging their artistic interests, helping them produce Christmas plays, and serving as a friend and mentor. Jones was presented with the Good Samaritan Award in 2002 from the Pastoral Counseling Services in Manchester, New Hampshire, for her service to children.



New York Times, May 13, 2005, p. C13.


Crotched Mountain Web site, http://www.crotchedmountain.org/ (July 18, 2005).

Twentieth-Century American Children's Literature Web site, http://libweb.uoregon.edu/speccoll/exhibits/childrenslit/ (July 18, 2005).

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