When I tell people about Berta and Elmer Hader I ask if they know the Hader’s Caldecott winning book The Big Snow. Sadly many people haven’t read this delightful book. I then ask if they remember the news reel footage from the beginning of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That they usually know. The Big Snow is a picture book about that same real blizzard that buried New York City.
Before the Haders were married, Berta was roommates with Rose. Laura called her “the little artist girl.” The Haders maintained a lifelong friendship with Rose. Elmer painted a picture of Telegraph Hill that he gifted to Rose and is now on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. When Pioneer Girl was rejected, it was Berta who suggested it might do better as a children’s book. This led to the manuscript being re-written as a picture book. This book was later lengthened again on the suggestion of Knopf and eventually became Little House in the Big Woods.
Today the Haders have started to fade into obscurity. Now some of their relatives are trying to reverse that trend. Read all about the Haders and see examples of their work here:
Please look for some of their books. I personally recommend The Big Snow and The Stone House. The Stone House tells the story of them building their dream house slowly, doing much of the work themselves. It’s a great story. Today the house still stands, but has been remodeled beyond recognition. In any of the Hader books look for their delightful signature self-portraits which are different in each book.
UPDATE: They have just launched a biography of the Haders. Any children’s literature buff and any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan whose interest runs that way will want a copy. The book is called Berta and Elmer Hader: A Lifetime in Art. Buy it from their website above. Also, like them on Facebook.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.