Beautiful book week: Maira Kalman

Published by Lori Pickert on October 24, 2007 at 02:32 PM



kalman-illusion.jpg Who doesn't love Maira Kalman?

She lives at the intersection of my three loves: children's books, writing, and design.

She has designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company and accessories for the Museum of Modern Art.

My boys love her books What Pete Ate from A to Z and Smartypants (Pete in School).

My sister and I have always love-loved the Max books: Max Makes a Million, Ooh-la-la (Max in Love), Max in Hollywood, Baby!, and Swami on Rye: Max in India.


The first three of these were bundled together into the fabulous, now out-of-print Max Deluxe (still available used from Amazon resellers).


Kalman's children's books are so densely illustrated that you can find new jokes in them every time you read them. The Max books especially have dense text as well; the Pete books are easier readers but still have a lot of free humor on the side. We absolutely love these books.


As I am a writer and began work as a copyeditor when I was still in college, I died and went to heaven when Maira Kalman illustrated the famous Elements of Style.

The hardcover book is so beautifully designed, with its front and back covers, inside hello and goodbye, and Kalman's ingenious illustrations, I can hardly bear to use it.

kalman-bassett.jpgLuckily for me, they have now come out with a paperback version with a wonderful cover ... now I just need a reading copy and another to save.

(I can't help fantasizing that Kalman will illustrate all my reference books. My Fowler's. My Roget's.)

Artist-illustrator-designer Kalman also writes a column, "The Principles of Uncertainty", which appears in the New York Times.

The first dozen columns have been published in an eponymous book.



Comment by Teri on October 24, 2007 at 07:00 PM

I didn't know about Maira Kalman's column! I'm going there now.

Comment by molly on October 24, 2007 at 11:49 PM

I love The Elements of Style. I check it out from the library several times a year and have almost splurged on my own copy several times. I just keep hoping I will come upon a copy at the thrift store or used book sale at the library.

Comment by abby's sister on October 25, 2007 at 09:43 PM

love max deluxe. great children's book. my former 2nd graders adored it.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 26, 2007 at 01:12 AM

it's a rare book that appeals to me as much as it appeals to the kids, especially for repeated readings!

Comment by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura on November 20, 2007 at 12:51 PM

It's funny, i was just going to add a beautiful book post on my blog and it was going to be Maira Kalman's new book which is BEAUTIFUL!!! The Principles of Uncertainty is amazing and touching, and worth the price of a hardcover book. I highly recommend it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2007 at 04:05 PM

yes, i received mine since this post and i absolutely love it!!!

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