SMUDGE (1948)

SMUDGE (1948) was drawn by my mother while she was pregnant with me at age 45. She had found a book, SEE WITHOUT GLASSES, by  the famous British author, Aldous Huxley, and would do her Bates eye exercises every day.  Her eyes would remain better for the rest of her life–and she would dare to illustrate two more books without using her glasses!

SMUDGE would be another book loved by artists and children alike:

“Mrs. Newberry has surpassed even herself in these delightful, loveable illustrations of her cats and kittens from the day they were born,” from the San Francisco Chronicle.

“These illustrations which are done in pen, wash, and crayon, are as soft and wobbly as brand new kittens themselves,” declared the Book Review Digest.

“The crayon portraits of three little kittens and their proud mother and father are irresistible. It is impossible to see this book without wanting it. For anyone three years or age or up…way up!” praised The Minneapolis Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune almost purred, “This is another superb book on cats by Mrs. Newberry and the first in which she has tackled the endearing field of new kittens. It is warm, wise, and full of gentle smiles. Her kittens are so entrancingly real, you can almost pick them up from the book…the crayon portraits are exquisite.”

The New Yorker agreed, “SMUDGE, written and illustrated by Clare Turlay Newberry. This year the famous Newberry Persian kittens are younger than ever before, and more mischievous. The book is well designed, and the reproduction of the red chalk and black charcoal drawings is so perfect that you almost expect the pictures to rub when you touch them.”

I like to think my mother was pleased to receive such glowing reviews after her daring pregnancy. Still, my mother knew how to worry and here she was in a tiny rural town with barely a hospital—and even that was a snowy drive away. Finally, after the months of enforced inactivity, her doctor delivered me by Caesarean. And, of course, when we both survived Clare now had a new model for her books.

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