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Esphyr Slobodkina, 93; Abstract Artist Wrote Books for Children

July 29, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Esphyr Slobodkina, 93, an abstract artist and children's book author who wrote the tale "Caps for Sale," died July 21 at her home in Glen Head, N.Y.

"Caps for Sale" was an international bestseller when it was published in 1940.

It tells the story of a cap seller who falls asleep under a tree and whose caps are stolen by monkeys, who refuse to relinquish their bounty.

It won a Lewis Carroll Shelf award in 1958 and has sold more than 2 million copies.

A native of Siberia who left Russia during the revolution, Slobodkina turned to writing children's stories in America during the Depression.

She collaborated on several projects with Margaret Wise Brown, the author of "Goodnight Moon" and other classics.

Among the books by Brown that Slobodkina illustrated were "The Little Fireman," "The Little Cowboy" and "Sleepy ABC."

Slobodkina went on to write and illustrate her own books. Among her 20 titles are "The Long Island Ducklings," "Pezzo the Peddler and the Circus Elephant" and "The Wonderful Feast."

Slobodkina also was a founding member of American Abstract Artists in 1936.

Her works are found in collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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