The unforgettable Amelia Bedelia was introduced to the world in 1963, brought to life by the writing of Peggy Parish and the art of Fritz Siebel. Though Mr. Siebel had already illustrated several children’s books, being an artist wasn’t his only job—he spent his days as the vice president of a major corporation in New York City. After illustrating the next two books (Thank You, Amelia Bedelia in 1964 and Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower in 1966), Mr. Siebel found he didn’t have enough time to continue illustrating, so artist Wallace Tripp took over.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. Tripp grew up in rural New Hampshire and New York. He has illustrated more than fifty children’s books. According to Mr. Tripp, “Illustrators are word people who happen to draw.” His Amelia Bedelia is more realistic and less comical than Mr. Siebel’s. Using a unique process of transferring tracing-paper sketches to cold-press illustration board, inking the images, and finally filling them in with watercolor, Mr. Tripp painstakingly rendered the scenes of Come Back, Amelia Bedelia (1972) and Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia (1974). Mr. Tripp and his wife began their own company (Pawprints Greeting Cards), and today they live in California.
Texas-born artist Lynn Sweat was doing magazine illustration and design work in New York City when he entered the children’s book world, illustrating Birds without Words in 1961. That book won an award from the Society of Illustrators, and caught the eye of Peggy Parish’s publisher, Susan Hirschman. She met with Mr. Sweat and asked him if he’d be interested in doing more children’s book art. After publishing a few books together, Ms. Hirschman thought Mr. Sweat was just the man for the job when Amelia Bedelia needed a new illustrator. His first Amelia Bedelia book was Good Work, Amelia Bedelia—in which, he says, he brought the character back to a more “cartoonish and wacky” look—and he illustrated all of Ms. Parish’s Amelia Bedelia titles until her death in 1988. He describes Ms. Parish as very quirky and funny.
From 1993 to 1996, Barbara Siebel Thomas, Fritz Siebel’s daughter, helped to create newly illustrated editions of Thank You, Amelia Bedelia and Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower, as well as the Spanish edition of Amelia Bedelia, all based on her father's original drawings. She was trained at the Art Students' League in New York City and worked as an art director before turning full-time to painting and illustrating. Ms. Thomas has painted commissioned portraits of homes for more than twenty years, but her favorite subject is landscapes. She lives in Bridgehampton, New York.
In the meantime, children and adults kept asking when a new Amelia Bedelia book would come out. When Peggy Parish's nephew, Herman, decided to bring Amelia Bedelia back to life in 1995, Mr. Sweat came back on board with Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, and he has illustrated all of Mr. Parish's books in the series since. Aside from being the illustrator of sixteen Amelia Bedelia books (and counting), Mr. Sweat is a painter and sculptor. He counts oil painting as his first love and has also illustrated many book covers. He toured at schools for fifteen years, bringing Amelia Bedelia directly to her fans, but now enjoys a more peaceful daily life, working steadily at his desk in the Connecticut home he shares with his wife.
In 2009, Greenwillow Books published Herman Parish's first Amelia Bedelia picture books, Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School and Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine, which introduced readers to Amelia Bedelia as a child. Lynne Avril, the illustrator of more than fifty books for children, was chosen to transform the familiar, beloved grown-up Amelia Bedelia into a child. "I've loved Amelia Bedelia for a very long time," she says, and I read the Amelia Bedelia books to my own children. What fun it was to accompany my granddaughter to her first day of school and draw on that experience for the pictures in Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School !"
Artwork © Fritz Siebel, Wallace Tripp, Lynn Sweat, and Lynne Avril