Long, long ago, a little boy named Almanzo Wilder lived on a farm in the New York countryside with his father, his mother, his big brother, Royal, and his big sisters, Eliza Jane and Alice. One special day is Almanzo’s birthday. He gets to stay home from school, and even better, Father gives him a yoke for his calves, Star and Bright, and a beautiful hand-sled. Almanzo spends the morning learning how to break the calves, and then he spends the afternoon flying down the hill in his brand-new sled. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers. Now for the first time, the youngest readers can share Almanzo’s adventures on the farm in these very special picture books adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved storybooks. Jody Wheeler’s warm paintings, inspired by Garth Williams’ classic Little House illustrations, bring Almanzo and his family lovingly to life.
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867–1957) was born in a log cabin in the Wisconsin woods. With her family, she pioneered throughout America’s heartland during the 1870s and 1880s, finally settling in Dakota Territory. She married Almanzo Wilder in 1885; their only daughter, Rose, was born the following year. The Wilders moved to Rocky Ridge Farm at Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, where they established a permanent home. After years of farming, Laura wrote the first of her beloved Little House books in 1932. The nine Little House books are international classics. Her writings live on into the twenty-first century as America’s quintessential pioneer story.
My greater-than-average fascination with children’s books developed when I was quite young. The major cause of this fascination was my great aunt Opal Wheeler, a prolific writer of mid-century children’s books. Every year, Aunt Opal would gift the Wheeler kids with stacks of children’s books from her publisher, Dutton Books.
That was it… I was hooked. I must have inherited some of Opal’s creativity because no matter what I studied in school, I simply couldn’t help, but gravitate to art. After graduating from Elmira College with my B.A. in Studio Art and Art Education, I did the starry-eyed thing that all artists imagine doing and moved to New York. For a couple of years, I worked and learned the ropes in the juvenile books division of The Dial Press. Then it was time to establish my own freelance illustration business.
That was a while (and more than 75 illustrated books) ago. Along the way, I took advantage of some great opportunities to work on a variety of projects for many clients in many, diverse markets.
Loving New York but still longing for a touch of home now and again, I am currently dividing my time between Manhattan and my hometown of Ballston Spa, New York State’s first Free Trade town.
Since then she has enjoyed working on a variety of projects ranging from picture books to educational texts, magazines, greeting cards and licensed characters. She has illustrated over 60 books, and her client list includes Penguin USA, Random House, UNICEF, Kimberly Clark, Scholastic, and Universal Studios. Today, Ms. Wheeler divides her time between Manhattan and Ballston Spa, NY working in the very portable medium of watercolor.