Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Alice Provensen  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:CHILD Fiction

Born: 1918 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Provensen was born in Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Alice Provensen was an American author-illustrator who teamed with her husband, Martin, to create children's books. There was a remarkable similarity to the couple's early histories. Both were born in Chicago, Illinois, and both moved to California when they were twelve. Both received scholarships to the Art Institute of Chicago, and both attended the University of California, though at separate campuses. After college, Alice went to work with Walter Lantz Studio, the creators of Woody Woodpecker, and Martin took work with the rival Walt Disney Studio, where he collaborated on Dumbo, Fantasia, and Pinocchio.The pair met in 1943 when Martin, working as a creator of training films for the American military, was assigned to the Walter Lantz Studio. They were married in 1944 and began illustrating children's books together. They shared work on all of the pictures, passing them back and forth until they were completely satisfied with the results. After they were married, they resettled in Washington, D.C., where they worked on war-related projects. Following the end of the war, they moved to New York City, where a friend assisted them in finding their first job, illustrating The Fireside Book of Folk Songs. In 1952, Tony the Tiger, designed by Martin, debuted as a Kellogg's mascot. Following that, they illustrated several Little Golden Books and wrote many books based on Maple Hill Farm, their home in New York State. Alice and Martin Provensen received the Caldecott Honor Medal for their illustration of ''A Visit to William Blake's Inn'', by Nancy Willard. They were further recognized just two years later, when they received the Caldecott Medal for ''A Glorious Flight''. The Provensens have been on the New York Times list of the Ten Best Illustrated Books eight times. In all, the couple wrote and illustrated more than 50 books.When Martin died in 1987, Alice thought about selling Maple Hill Farm, not certain if she would ever want to write or draw again. But her fondness for history drew her to back to writing ''The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States''. Its success and that of ''My Fellow Americans: A Family Album'' and ''Punch in New York'' revived her interest in writing, and she decided to stay at Maple Hill Farm. Alice enjoys traveling, and her love for exotic places came into play in her 2001 book, ''The Master Swordsman & The Magic Doorway: Two Legends from Ancient China.''


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Awards

-- '''''A Visit to William Blake's Inn''''' *Caldecott Honor Medal '''''A Glorious Flight''''' *Caldecott Medal