The Ann Kirn Collection at Florida State University

Ann Kirn is a well known author-illustrator of books for children who also taught in the Fine Arts Department at FSU from 1944-1977. She grew up in Montgomery City, Missouri, and studied art at William Woods College, the University of Missouri, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, and the University of California at Los Angeles and spent a summer painting in Taxco, Mexico. She received her B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University. Before becoming a professor of art at FSU, she worked as a fashion illustrator and taught second grade. She has also illustrated and written other books such as Two Pesos for Catalina, Leopard on a String, Nine in a Line, I Spy, Tale of a Crocodile and Beeswax Catches a Thief. In turn, she donated her collection to FSU Special Collections.

While processing the collection of books and working drawings for each book, I came across a few that have become my favorites which I would like to share. They are Bamboo, Nine in a Line, and The Peacock and the Crow.

Bamboo (1966) (Fig. 1) is about a monkey named Bamboo, who loves orange so much that when she spots an orange parasol in a garden, she does whatever she can to attain it. Nine in a Line (1966) (Fig. 2) is based on a very old folk tale about a man named Amin who has to transport the sheik’s new camels. However, he must guard the camels from the Evil One so that all the camels can reach the sheik. The Peacock and the Crow(1969) (Fig. 3) is also based off of an old fairy tale. The fairy tale is based off of how the Peacock and the Crow got their colors. In the story, the Peacock and Crow were invited to Lord Tiger’s wedding and thought that their dull feathers weren’t impressive enough (they were thought to originally have been all-white), so they find some paint for their feathers. With the found paint, the Crow paints the Peacocks feathers beautiful colors of blue and yellow. However, the Peacock, in fear of being outdazzled at the wedding, doesn’t adorn the Crow with the same colors, but instead paints the Crow with black paint. These three books are only just a small part of the collection of children’s books illustrated by Ann Kirn.

Fig. 1 Bamboo (1966)
Fig. 2 Nine in a Line (1969)
Fig. 3 The Peacock and the Crow (1969)

2 thoughts on “The Ann Kirn Collection at Florida State University

  1. How lovely to see Ms Kirn’s work again, when I was a little girl, I treasured ‘2 Pesos for Catalina’ and now that I live in Mexico, the inspiration for her work surrounds me. Her nunanced approach to the cultures she chose to represent is so special, thanks for sharing it.
    Kathleen, who is now Catalina!

  2. I am also trying to locate a copy of the book over the internet. I might have some luck with the antiquarian bookshops in Prague, but I will probably have to go all the way to London to have any realistic hope of finding it again. I and my brothers and sisters in Flagstaff AZ grew up with the book, and our parents often read it to us as a bedtime story. I am sure my father still has the book, but he is now 85 years old, and I would hate to trouble him concerning such a relatively trifling matter. If I really wanted to go all out, I suppose I could ask my sister, Cammie, who has a farm near by, to stop by “Serendip”, have the book scanned to a pdf file, and then use an OCR program from that point on. The big question is, however, how well organized my father’s personal library happens to be at the time. I suppose I could send my dad an e-mail first, which would give him several days to look for the book in advance (or maybe even several weeks, if need be), and then my sister, who is only a fifteen minute drive away on the main highway, would not need to spend any time herself actually looking for the book. Still, it would be considerably less of a hassle if a copy of the text is already floating around in cyberspace;-)

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