Antonio Frasconi, the award-winning children’s book creator and illustrator who is best known for his woodcuts, died on January 8 at age 93.
Throughout his career, Frasconi wrote and illustrated numerous children’s books, many of which were critically recognized. The American Library Association awarded its Caldecott Honor to his bilingual picture book The House That Jack Built/La Maison que Jacques a Batie (Harcourt, 1958), and a Notable Book Award to his bilingual The Snow and the Sun/La Nieve y el So (Harcourt, 1961). The Snow and the Sun also won a Horn Book Fanfare Award.
Frasconi’s other notable works for children include illustrations for Gabriela Mistral’s Crickets and Frogs: A Fable in Spanish and English (Athenium, 1972), which the American Institute of Graphic Arts presented in its Children’s Book Show from 1973–1974, and Mistral’s The Elephant and His Secret (Atheneum, 1974), which was chosen as a Child Study Association’s Children’s Book of the Year.
In 2005, relying once more on his trademark woodcuts, he illustrated a new edition of Langston Hughes’ poem in the picture book Let America Be America Again (Braziller, 2005). School Library Journal described his portrayal of the poem’s characters as “powerful,” with “especially moving faces” and “expressions that are at once individual and universal.”
Born in 1919 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Frasconi was raised in Uruguay but moved to the United States in 1945 after World War II. At age twelve, he worked as a print-maker’s apprentice and eventually went on to study at the Art Students’ League in New York. He briefly worked as a guard at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where he later he presented his first solo art show.
Originally inspired by the woodcuts of Paul Gaugin, Frasconi’s own distinguished art career spanned over fifty years. He illustrated more than 100 books, including works by Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges, and his artwork has appeared in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and in exhibitions worldwide.
His major acclaimed work, “The Disappeared,” depicts the torture, incarceration, and deaths of citizens in Uruguay during dictatorship. The dramatic series of woodcuts took him 10 years to complete.`