Backroads edited the overview of Trina Schart Hyman Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
Born in Philadelphia to Margaret Doris Bruck and Albert H. Schart, she grew up in a rural area of Pennsylvania and learned to read and draw at an early age. Her favorite story as a child was Little Red Riding Hood, and she spent an entire year of her childhood wearing a red cape.
She enrolled at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now part of the University of the Arts) in 1956, but moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1959 after marrying Harris Hyman, a mathematician and engineer. She graduated from School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1960.
The couple then moved to Stockholm, Sweden, for two years, where Trina studied at the Konstfackskolan (Swedish State Art School) and illustrated her first children's book, titled Toffe och den lilla bilen (Toffe and the Little Car).
In 1963, the couple's daughter, Katrin Tchana (née Hyman), was born, but in 1968, they divorced, and Trina and Katrin moved to Lyme, New Hampshire. Trina lived for some time with the children's writer and editor Barbara Rogasky (with whom she collaborated on several projects). For about the last decade of her life, her romantic partner was teacher Jean K. Aull.<2> She was the first art director of Cricket Magazine from 1973 to 1979 but contributed regularly to the publication until her death. Her books have won numerous awards, including a Caldecott Honor for illustrating Little Red Riding Hood in 1984,<1> the Caldecott Medal for Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges in 1985,<1> and Caldecott Honors for Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel in 1990 and A Child's Calendar by John Updike in 2000;<1> an honor book in the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for illustration in 1968 for All in Free but Janey and in 1978 for On to Widecombe Fair, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for illustration in 1973 for King Stork. Many of her illustrations can be quite complex. For example, in one scene in Saint George and the Dragon, the dragon's tail stretches into the border artwork of the next page.<3>
She is also considered one of the first white American illustrators (after Ezra Jack Keats) to incorporate black characters into her illustrations regularly, as a matter of principle, in large part triggered by her daughter's marriage to a man from Cameroon. Her grandchildren appear in several of her books.
She died from breast cancer at 65, on November 19, 2004 . The third book she completed with her daughter was published in 2006, which was titled Changing Woman and Her Sisters, Goddesses from Around the World. A print portfolio was created from this book by Katrin Tchana and the Child at Heart Gallery.