The daughter of legendary children's book creators Harve and Margot Zemach, Kaethe Zemach has published ten books for young readers, including the classic The Princess and Froggie, as well as Just Enough and Not Too Much, Eating Up Gladys, The Character in the Book, and The Question Song.
When I was a toddler, my mother had an idea," says Kaethe. "Maybe one shouldn't offer kids crayons, and colors — until they have a firm grip on LINE. So she gave me a pencil as a young child, only — and taught me that drawing is an exploration — a description — not a format, or a performance. She instilled in me a great love for line, and I often, over the years, had opportunities to observe the ideas and tricks she used to encourage kids to draw."
Kaethe loves to visit schools. "I began illustrating books myself as a teenager — and began doing school shows with drawing demonstrations in my early 20s," she says. "My drawing demonstrations have always been distillations of my mother's drawing advice/perspective, for children. I try to model and show my mother's attitude towards drawing, which was brilliant. I try to encourage expressiveness and fun, and descriptive possibility, — instead of “techniques' or rules."
School appearances helped shaped the idea that became Kaethe's latest book, Ms. McCaw Learns to Draw. "About 10 years go," she says, "I began thinking about how to create a book which would deliver this same information to kids — but NOT get put on the “how to draw' shelf. I wanted it to fall into the hands of unsuspecting kids, and for it to feel like THEIR idea to pick up a pen and start drawing. So I had to try to plant this drawing information and perspective inside a story — and Ms. McCaw is the result. I think it is fitting that Dudley has trouble in school, and is low on the ladder in his class, because my mother was this sort of child — she was often written off as 'dumb' and incapable. Meanwhile, she became an extraordinary artist."