A Home for Tandy was written by Audrey and Harvey Hirsch, illustrated by Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, and published by Platt & Munk, Publishers, in 1971.
The story of an animal searching for a suitable home has long been a staple of children's literature, spawning more versions than we could enumerate here. A Home for Tandy is the old story with a new twist. It is not an animal who is homeless, but an elf. Each of his animal friends invites Tandy to move in with him, but all their homes are impractical. He can't live in the ground like a mole, or climb a tree like a raccoon, or swim underwater like a beaver. As winter approaches, the animals hold a council and decide to build a home just right for Tandy. When it is done, it is a human home in miniature, but made out of wild things.
The writing is crisp and pleasing, and it carries the story line very well. But the main attraction of this book is the illustrations. The brothers Hildebrandt (actually, twin brothers) are world-class artists, whose work has been pervasive in the media for a generation. They are most famous for the Tolkien calendars they produced in the 1970s—calendars illustrating scenes in Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Tim passed away in 2006 at age 67, but his brother is still active. Unfortunately, they have worked on many projects that we could not endorse, but we would never belittle the immensity of their talent, well displayed in this children's book.
They have a special ability to achieve bold effects by manipulating perspective and proportion. Real things swell from normal size to become larger than life, or the foreground shortens to bring the viewer close-up to figures or objects in the scene. In some pictures, there is selective expansion of certain aspects, creating emphasis and perhaps showing detail normally beneath vision. The subtle distortion, though it seldom seems contrary to nature, is always fascinating to the eye, and creates interest that is not satisfied with a single look.
The following list is a selection of other children's books illustrated by one or both Hildebrandts.
The Man Who Found Out Why; the Story of Gregor Mendel, by Gary Webster (Hawthorn Books, 1963)
Mother Goose: A Treasury of Best-loved Rhymes, edited by Watty Piper (Grosset & Dunlap, 1972)
A Nose for Trouble: A Golden Fragrance Book, by Barbara Shook (Golden Press, 1973)
The Giant Panda Book, by Anthony (Golden Press, 1973)
How Do They Build It? by the Hildebrandts (Platt & Munk, 1974)
Unusual Animals, by Kathleen Daly (Golden Press, 1977)
The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, illustrated by G. Hildebrandt (Running Press Book Publishers, 2003)
The cheapest copy of A Home for Tandy currently available through Amazon.com is about $30.
© 2007, 2012 Stanley Edgar Rickard (Ed Rickard, the author). All rights reserved.