Today I got the greatest present in the mail. My husband Jordan ordered a book for me that I’ve been wanting for about a year: Firebrand, Push Your Hair Out of Your Eyes by Natalie Scott. It contains some of the all-time most amazing 1960s illustrations I have ever seen.
I have a soft spot for children’s illustrations anyway, especially from the 1960s/70s/80s, and Firebrand is pretty much the holy grail.
Sandra Smith is the genius behind Fireband’s art. This elusive woman only illustrated four books (I think), and each one is an absolute masterpiece. Each one is also hard to find.
Any one of Sandra’s illustrations would make me proud to hang in my home as a giant, ceiling-to-floor painting. I DREAM of artwork like this. It’s stunning.
As for the book itself: super cute. Firebrand, the main character, is a contrary little girl with a “voice that often roared” and a mop of crazy, fire-red hair. The story is about how she learns to push her hair away from her eyes so that she can see the world around her, but the main focus is bigger: she’s going through the time in her childhood where she realizes she may not always know what’s best for her.
But that’s enough about the story! More about the illustrations!
Incredible work like this is only found a few times in a life, and I am thrilled that I stumbled upon it.
Sandra obviously pulled from the hippie culture that was around her during the time of these books’ release—note the outfits, flowers, and basically everything else—and her work has elements of charm, playfulness, and character that tend to be completely exempt from today’s illustrations.
Here are some of Sandra Smith’s illustrations from her other books, The Wizard of the Umbrella People, Wings on Wednesday, and Please Sit Still.
I’m still looking for Wings on Wednesday, if anyone ever happens to come across a copy.