Maira Kalman's Enchanting Books for Children
"Allo Jacques. It's moi, Mimi.
What a horrible day.
The butcher delivered
the wrong order.
Instead of sixty spicy saucissons
and a small steak
for my dog Sutzi
they delivered sixty steaks
and one sweet saucisson...
Lest you forget, some of the most enchanting books for children ever written and illustrated, are by Maira Kalman, a quintessential New Yorker. Quirky, witty, and irreverent, yet also lyrical and optimistic in a world that sometimes seems to have escaped us, Kalman’s 18 books for children juggle color, language, typography and painting. Perhaps an influence that came from years of working closely with her late husband, Tibor Kalman, who founded the iconic design studio, M&Co, but Maira Kalman had wanted to write from the time she was a child. At first she used narrative illustrations to tell stories, then she began writing books for children in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s published her series about Max, the dog, who dreams of moving to Paris and becoming a poet.
All her books, whether for adults or children, were inspired by life around her; by her family and friends. But Max, she admitted in an interview, was based on herself, a sort of “nutty-kind-of-philosopher-comedian.”
In 2017 the New York Review Books began to reissue Kalmlan’s books for children, including her famous Max series, which you’ll find below, including a few other treasures.
Banner image from Max Makes a Million, all images courtesy nyrb