Editor's note: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


Paul O. Zelinsky: Angels to Ogres

November 19, 2005 - January 29, 2006

(above: Paul O. Zelinsky, Candy House, © 1984, from Hansel and Gretel)


The stylishly diverse, award-winning children's book illustrations in "Paul O. Zelinsky: Angels to Ogres" will brighten up dark winter days at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from November 19, 2005 - January 29, 2006. Fifty-eight original artworks created by Zelinsky for eighteen books over a twenty-year span delightfully reveal why opening up a Zelinsky-illustrated picture book is a magical adventure for readers of all ages. (left: Paul O. Zelinsky, Awful Ogre's Bone Collection, © 2001, from Awful Ogre's Awful Day)

The range of books Zelinsky has illustrated to date covers the realms of fairytales, movable books and chapter books, rhyming stories, and, most recently, computer graphics. Zelinsky enjoys the fact that the books he illustrates are dissimilar because "it makes me try different things, new techniques, unfamiliar styles." His primary goal is to make pictures that speak in the same voice as the author's words.

The artist has translated many classic stories into beautiful picture books including the Brother Grimms' fairytales "Hansel and Gretel," "Rumpelstiltskin," and his 1998 Caldecott Medal-winning "Rapunzel." For "Rapunzel," Zelinsky used oil paints and Renaissance-style illustrations to take the reader to Italy in the 1500s. Doing so allowed him to ground the story in a solid, historical world and lend authenticity to a fairytale that has no actual authentic version.

In his movable books Zelinsky brings motion and song to life through his lyrical adaptations of "Knick-Knack Paddywhack!" and "The Wheels on the Bus." These masterfully engineered books invite children to pull tabs and spin wheels, revealing hidden surprises within each page. His characteristically bright and detailed illustrations bring out the humor of these familiar childhood songs.

Older readers of chapter books will recognize illustrations from the well-known classics "Dear Mr. Henshaw" (written by Beverly Cleary) and "Five Children and It" (written by E. Nesbit). Whether depicting real-life situations or stories of mystery and intrigue, Zelinsky's artwork convinces the reader of each fantasy world created by the author. For "Five Children and It" Zelinsky reflects that " I would have liked to come up with an original look for the sand fairy, but Nesbit's descriptions were so clear that there was only one way to draw the creature."

Witty characters steal the show in Zelinsky's off-beat adaptations of poems and stories in rhyme. His whimsical style in "The Maid and the Mouse and the Odd-shaped House" is fun and lighthearted, and readers even find themselves laughing at Awful Ogre's gruesome, but comical, ways in "Awful Ogre's Awful Day." (right: Paul O. Zelinsky, Awful Ogre Pens a Letter, © 2001, from Awful Ogre's Awful Day)

About these more playful books, Zelinsky writes, "now and then it's great to throw seriousness completely to the wind and make something absolutely ridiculous. But that doesn't mean that it can't also be beautiful."

Zelinsky's foray into using computer graphics resulted in "Doodlers Doodling," where simple, doodled images seem to evolve and take on a life of their own. Doodling is one of Zelinsky's favorite ways of drawing because "I never know what I will draw next. What's already there decides what comes next." He also admits that monsters are always satisfying to draw, too.

The diversity of Zelinsky's artworks is seen in his many different styles as well as in the array of drawing and painting mediums he uses with such proficiency. They include pastels, both transparent and opaque watercolors, pen and ink, color pencils and gray pencils, and oil paints.

Paul Zelinsky was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1953. He attended Yale University, where he took a course with famed children's book illustrator Maurice Sendak, which later inspired him to pursue a career in children's books rather than follow in Pablo Picasso's footsteps or in childhood "when I grow up" careers that included astronomer, architect, and taxidermist. He received a graduate degree in painting from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia.

The National Center for Illustrated Children's Literature, Abilene, Texas, organized Zelinsky's work for national tour.


(above: Paul O. Zelinsky, From The Wheels on the Bus, © 1990)


Dual Art Museum and Public Library Programming

When "Paul O. Zelinsky: Angels to Ogres" opens November 19 at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, the doors of both the Museum and the Marathon County Public Library will open onto magical realms created by the skillful melding of words and images in children's picture books. (right: Paul O. Zelinsky, Give a Dog a Bone, © 2002, From Knick-knack Paddywhack)

This partnership between two of Wausau's cultural and educational luminaries has kindled two dozen complementary programs for youth, families, and adults between mid-November and the exhibition's closing date of January 29, 2006. Libraries in Wisconsin Rapids, Rhinelander, and Stevens Point, part of the Wisconsin Valley Library Service area, also have joined the Zelinsky-inspired fun (see page 4).


Meet Paul O. Zelinsky

Caldecott Medal-winner Paul Zelinsky will be at the Art Museum and Library for opening festivities. On Friday, November 18, from 5-7:30 pm, the public is invited to the Woodson to preview the exhibition, meet the artist, have books signed, try out the Family Improv Theater and enjoy refreshments.

Zelinsky has a busy schedule on Saturday, November 19, with each event followed by a book signing. At 10 am he'll speak to adults at the Art Museum about his path from childhood doodling to a dazzling career as a nationally known children's book illustrator. During "Doodlers Doodling" from 1-2 pm, he'll teach 5-12 year olds and their adult friends the fine art of doodling. Call 845-7010 to register.

Zelinsky then moves to the Library headquarters in downtown Wausau for a 3-4 pm repeat of "Doodlers Doodling." Register at 261-7220. From 4-5 pm the Library hosts a farewell reception and book signing.


Toddler Programs

Toddler Tuesday, a free monthly program, will be held at the Woodson Art Museum from 10:30 am-noon on November 22 with the theme Turkey Time; December 20 for Fairytale Fun; and January 17 for Wheels on the Bus activities.

"Art Time for Tots" gives parent and toddlers the opportunity to pair up for art-in-action activities. It is held from 10:30-11:30 am on Tuesday, November 29, and January 24. This free program requires registration at 845-7010.


Youth, Family & Adult Programs @ Museum

A beautifully delicious gingerbread house in "Hansel and Gretel" inspired two sessions of "Construction in Progress." Art Buddies ages 5-7 meet on Tuesday, December 6, and Art Explorers ages 8-12 meet Thursday, December 8, from 4:30-6 pm, to create edible and take-home masterpieces using graham crackers, frosting, gumdrops, and candy canes. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

Teens and adults who enjoy learning new art techniques can participate in a series called Foundations. On Saturday, December 10, from 10 am-noon, participants will learn how to use chine colle, monotype, and relief printmaking processes to produce printed cards for personal use. Fee. Register at 845-7010.

Spinning straw into gold is the stuff of fairytales, but real-life fiber artists Andrea and Amy Mielke of Rudolph will demonstrate the fine art of spinning on Sunday, January 15, from 1-3 pm using hand spindles and spinning wheels.

Puppeteer Marilyn Price of Evanston, Illinois, combines the art of storytelling with the magic of puppetry in "Folktale Heroes and Villains," an Art Buddies and Art Explorers program on Thursday, January 19, from 4:30-6 pm. After seeing the good guys and bad guys in action, each youngster will create a folk-character puppet and one of themselves for some interactive group puppet play. Register at 845-7010.

Educators who want to learn how to use puppets with more proficiency in their classroom or home-school environment can call 845-7010 to register for a free educator workshop with Marilyn Price on Friday, January 20, from noon to 4 pm.

On Saturday, January 21, at 1 pm and again at 2, Price invites families to "The Good Guys Will Win," an interactive performance that interweaves the stories of Hansel, Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, the miller's daughter, and Rapunzel and the prince. She adds an occasional witch and wizard for extra fairytale excitement.

Youth, Family & Adult Programs @ Library

Four Family Storytimes play off the folktale and fairytale themes found in Paul Zelinsky's illustrations. On Saturday, December 3, at 10:30 am and Thursday, December 8, at 6:30 pm, fans of Babe the Blue Ox and Pecos Pete will enjoy meeting Zelinsky's Swamp Angel and Tarnation and other American tall-tale heroes.

Family Storytimes on Saturday, January 7, at 10:30 am, and Thursday, January 12, at 6:30 pm focus on the fun of fractured fairytales.

Children's book illustrators await the naming of the Caldecott Medal winner each January with bated breath. Which artist will be honored for creating the best illustrated picture book of the past year? Wausau readers in grades 2 through adults will meet on Saturday, January 14, from 2-3:30 pm to discuss noteworthy books and cast a vote for their favorite before the real winner is announced on January 23. Register at 261-7220.

Marilyn Price presents her interactive puppet performance of "The Good Guys Will Win" for Library-goers on Saturday, January 21, from 10:30-11:15 am.


Family Improv Theater

By stepping into the Museum's improv theater, young and old alike can put their personal spin on the fairytale stories of Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin. Two main "stages" have been created -- one featuring Rapunzel's tower and the other Rumpelstiltskin's spinning room. Props and scripts are on hand or visitors can ad lib brand-new scenes and stories for their own interactive fun.


Snow White: Snow Sculpting at Its Best

TEAM USA snow sculptors Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz return to Wausau on January 6-7 to flex their artistry and athleticism in re-creating two Paul Zelinsky-inspired sculptures. At the Library headquarters they'll craft Rapunzel's elegantly patterned tower, and at the Museum Zelinsky's awfully adorable ogre will take shape. They enjoy company as they work.


Regional Libraries Join the Fun

The following programs are all inspired by Paul Zelinsky's books and illustrations.

McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, Saturday, December 17, 10-11am
Storytime & Art Activity for children 5 and older. Register at 422-5131.
Rhinelander District Library, Thursday, January 5, 10-10:45 am
Preschool Storytime
Charles White Library, Stevens Point, Friday, January 20, 2-3 pm
Fairytale Hour, stories and crafts for children 5 and older. Register after January 3 at 346-1549.


Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy


Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.