Monday, November 14, 2005

Artists of Lanesville - Susanna Natti, Illustrator

The Best Christmas--Erkki at Lanes Cove

I've been doing some research recently, initiated by some questions I had about the Joan of Arc statue in Gloucester (I'll discuss this in a future posting), about the artists, sculptors, authors and illustrators that have lived in Lanesville. I will tell you--it is a remarkable group of people. I will lay out a small vignette on these residents and former residents in the coming months.

Susanna Natti is an illustrator who grew up in Lanesville on Blood Ledge quarry. Her mother, Lee Kingman (Mary Lee Kingman Natti) was the children's book editor for Houghton-Mifflin, the author of many children's books and a member of the Folly Cove Designers. Susanna and her mother have collaborated on a couple of books, one most notable was The Best Chrismas. It was recently republished by Twin Lights Publishers, Inc., Rockport, MA.

Released in November 2001, this new edition of the children's story,"The Best Christmas" by Lee Kingman, first published in 1949, is illustrated by her daughter Susanna Natti. It is the story of a Finnish family, the Seppala's, living in Gloucester, Massachusetts in the 1900's. The oldest son, Matti, is reported missing at sea on a stone barge sailing to Boston in December. Ten year old Erkki worries about missing Matti and the Christmas spirit, he thinks of something that he can do for his family. This is truly a story for all ages. "The Best Christmas has so caught the Christmas spirit of warmth and kindness, of unselfish desire to do something for someone else, that it can be placed on the family bookshelf to be read and re-read as the Christmas seasons come around." The Christian Science Monitor

The illustration shown here is of Erkki as he walks up Lanes Cove Road onto Andrews Street with Lanes Cove in the background (notice the similarity to the the breakwater on the title of On the Cove). The original book released in 1949 was illustrated by Barbara Cooney (1917-2000). Susanna told me that Barbara Cooney was one of her idols and it was difficult for her to agree to do the illustrations because she admired Barbara's illustrations so much. The 1949 publication's illustrations were done early in Barbara's career--she won the Caldecott Medal twice in her lifetime (1959 and 1980).

Susanna is the illustrator of over 50 books including the popular Cam Jansen series by David Adler, the Ronald Morgan books by Patricia Reily Giff as well as the Beany books by Susan Wojciechowski.

Thanks to Susanna Natti for permission to include the illustration in this blog.


  • Very interesting! What a nice thing to do with your blog. Good luck.

    Actually, I posted a photo of Joan of Arc for you over on Cape Ann Online but I don't know where it went but you can also see it on Cape Ann Salon here. Feel free to use it.

    I wrote about this recently on Gloucester Sculpture by Moonlight.

    Good luck with this very interesting project!!!

    By Blogger Kathleen Valentine, at 5:58 PM  

  • Great page on Gloucester Sculpture by Moonlight. The Joan of Arc statute is one of my favorites.

    By Blogger Stan, at 10:36 AM  

  • Thanks for the information. Looks like a great book that I should get. Also, I really like your blog. Having grown up in Lanesville, your blog is a nice tribute to that charming village.

    By Blogger Sunshine Skyways, at 7:54 PM  

  • I'm glad you like the blog--it has been fun reporting on the goings on around Lanes Cove, and now learning and writing about amazing people who lived here.

    By Blogger Stan, at 10:02 PM  

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