Here are 8 fine illustrations of the California condor from children’s books.
How many California condors are there? It wasn’t that long ago that the number of condors in the world was a mystery that scientists were struggling to solve.
This post presents images of the California condor from the covers of books. All of these books consider the condor but none are entirely focused on the species.
This collection of book cover images is not just about the artistic representation of the California condor. It is significant that images of the condor were selected for the covers of these books. Many other subjects relevant to each book’s content would have made for suitable covers.
A 1930 article in the Los Angeles Times presented
An interview with Dr. Vance Joseph Hoyt, author of last year’s best seller in animal stories ….
From this article readers learn that
“Silver Boy,” Dr. Hoyt’s book, tells the story of a silver gray fox ….
For several years Dr. Hoyt has been catching the wild animals in box traps, making pets of them and living on equal terms with them in his place in Topanga Canyon.
Since the appearance of Dr. Hoyt’s book he has been recognized as an authority on the animal life of this region ….
Dr. Hoyt says that of all forms of authorship the nature-writer must be the most accurate and that personally he is as conscientious in keeping the records of a baby rattler or fox [as] he would be with those of a scion of the royal family.
In the interview, Hoyt shares his passion for the chaparral, the “elfin forest” that surrounds urban Los Angeles and supports a wide array of animal life. Hoyt says that
The chaparral is the home of the largest bird that flies, the condor, as well as the smallest, the hummingbird.
But Hoyt is frustrated with his fellow citizens:
I was appalled at the lack of knowledge of the average Californian regarding the chaparral and the animal-life we have here at the doorstep of Los Angeles.
This is strange country – strange trees, strange animals and strange climatic conditions, and … filled with wonders for him who has eyes to see.
Given this review, how could I not be eager to read Silver Boy: The Gray Fox of Topanga?
Sketches play an important role in communicating scientific information. This was true before the printing of photographs and high-quality illustrations became common, and it continues to be true.
In this post, I show sketches concerning the California condor from 6 sources. These were published over a span of more than a century.
The April 1948 issue of The American Girl magazine features Margaret Leighton’s short story “The Legacy of Canyon John”. A California condor is the heart of this story and one can be seen in Roy Clinker’s accompanying illustrations.
Five years later, “The Legacy of Canyon John” was reprinted in a collection of short stories and with new art work by Robert Sinnott. This multi-volume story collection, edited by Marjorie Barrows, was titled The Children’s Hour (Spencer, 1953). Leighton’s short story is in volume 7: Favorite Mystery Stories.
In this post, I describe Leighton’s story (avoiding spoilers), show the condor illustrations of Clinker and Sinnott, and note how I found the two versions of “The Legacy of Canyon John”.
In 1992, after nearly 5 years during which there were no California condors living outside of captivity, condors returned to the wilds of southern California. Since 1992, condors have also returned to their former habitats in central California, the Grand Canyon area, and Baja California.
So it should not be surprising that the word return is frequently found in the titles of articles about the California condor. For example, the image above shows the title of Linda Litchfield’s article in the Spring 1993 issue of ZooLife magazine.
In this post, I note articles and books about the California condor’s return.