Russell Hoban (1925-2011) was the author of more than seventy books for children and adults. He grew up in Pennsylvania with two sisters (one of whom, Tana Hoban, became a noted photographer and children’s book author) and attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, where he met his future wife and collaborator Lillian Aberman. Hoban worked as a commercial artist and advertising copywriter before embarking on a career as a children’s author while in his early thirties. Soon the Hobans were collaborating on books, Russell writing the text and Lillian drawing the pictures. During the 1960s the couple worked at a prodigious rate, producing as many as six books in a single year—many inspired by life with their own four children̢—including six stories about Frances the badger, The Little Brute Family, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, and The Mouse and His Child. Russell Hoban’s other books for young readers include The Marzipan Pig, Trouble on Thunder Mountain, and two books about Captain Najork (illustrated by Quentin Blake). Among Hoban’s novels for adults are Turtle Diary, Riddley Walker, The Bat Tattoo, and most recently, My Tango with Barbara Strozzi. He lived in London from 1969 until his death in December 2011.
Lillian Hoban (1925-1988) was born and raised in Philadelphia. She became interested in drawing at a young age, taking classes at the Graphic Sketch Club before going on to the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. After their marriage, Russell and Lillian Hoban moved to New York City, where Lillian studied modern dance and later became a member of Martha Graham’s troupe. In 1961 she provided illustrations for Russell’s Herman the Loser, eventually illustrating or co-writing twenty-six books with him and illustrating nearly one hundred more for other writers, including several by her daughters Phoebe and Julia. In later years, Lillian was celebrated for her stories of Arthur the chimpanzee and his sister Violet, as well as for dozens of other books she wrote and illustrated. She lived in New York City and Wilton, Connecticut, until her death in 1988.
What a mess! The cat is on top of the grandfather clock, the dog is barking and lunging, and all the children are squabbling and shouting. Well, who started it? Each child points to the next, and even the dog blames the cat. But the truth is another story. From the author and illustrator of the Frances books.