Thomas Locker: His Life and Works

About Thomas Locker

Thomas Locker began his life in 1937. He has always loved painting and nature, and has used his painting to express his love for nature. He began to exhibit his art work  in 1964 at the Banter Gallery in New York City, and since then he has had more than 50 exhibitions internationally. It was 1982 before he began to write and illustrate children’s books, and his pictures have added beauty to over 30 of them. As you can see by the cover art below, a book illustrated by Thomas Locker is an art exhibit in itself. Not only will young readers be exposed to fine art, but they will also be exposed to many of the author’s insights on art and the natural world.

The Books of Thomas Locker

Here are the titles I have read and reviewed.

Anna and the Bagpiper

Review of Anna and the BagPiper and Other Books by Thomas LockerAnna and the Bagpiper Anna is lured to a nearby hilltop when a strange sound seems to beckon her. She climbed the hill, where she saw an old man playing the bagpipes. At first she hid, but he discovered her, smiled, and played a special song just for her. As the sun set, he played a sad song, and when the moon rose he stopped.

When Anna returned home and turned back to wave, the man was gone. She told her mother about the experience, but she just nodded. And as Anna drifted off to sleep that night, she wondered if the whole thing had just been a dream. Unpaginated.

Review of The Boy Who Held Back the Sea and other books of Thomas LockerThe Boy who Held Back the Sea by Thomas Locker. Jan is a devious and mischievous little boy who lived in Holland, where his small town was protected from the sea by the dikes that held it back. Jan had a reputation similar to that of the boy who cried wolf in the old fable, so people had learned not to take his “emergencies” too seriously. One day, after getting excused from church to visit and read to a blind man, he spends the day in mischief instead, never visiting the man at all, and eating the pie he was supposed to take to him.  His activities made him tired, so he wandered over to the dike and noticed a hole where the ocean was leaking through. Even he knew that if the sea should break through the dike it could destroy the town and all who lived there. So he tried to get help, but no one paid attention to him. When he got back to the dike, the leak was a bit bigger and since no one had followed him, he wrapped his handkerchief around his finger and stuck it in the hole to hold back the sea until help came. He was lying there through a storm and was shivering and nearly delirious by the time help arrived, but he saved the town and became a hero. And he also became a better boy.

Review of Cloud Dance and Other Books by Thomas LockerCloud Dance by Thomas Locker. Harcourt, Inc Voyager Books. First paperback printing, 2003. This book is a poetic essay illustrated by Locker’s gorgeous paintings of cloud formations and sky. At the end are some questions and answers about clouds and a picture diagram of the different types of clouds in the sky, labeled. The inside back cover has some directions for making your own “cloud” and an idea for creative writing.

Review of Home and Other Books by Thomas Locker

Home: A Journey through America, by Thomas Locker. Harcourt, Inc Voyager Books. Paperback, later printing. This picture book is a splendid mix of art and literature . The magnificent paintings are by Thomas Locker, as is one of the poems, but the other poetry and prose selections are by writers as varied as Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, John Muir, Pat Mora, Willa Cather, Jane Yolen, Abraham Lincoln, Merle Good, and more. Each literary selection is enhanced by one of Locker’s landscape paintings illustrating a scene from the author’s home territory.

From San Francisco to Walden Pond, we are treated to a small tour of America as seen through Locker’s eyes. We see the Pacific Ocean, Yosemite Falls, the southwest desert, the Midwestern prairie, Chicago (in the fog, of course), the Connecticut River in Massachusetts, Comanche country in Texas, a tree-lined street in North Carolina, Spencer County, Illinois, Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Hudson Valley of New York, and Walden Pond. At the end of the book is a map of the United States showing the locations pictured and written about as each author described his or her hometown. Next to the map is a list of the authors with their year and place of birth. Price Journey through America at Amazon. 

Review of Mare on the Hill and Other Books by Thomas LockerThe Mare on the Hill by Thomas Locker. A Penguin Puffin book, paper, ©1995. Two children and a stallion patiently woo a white, but wild mare, whom they are finally able to tame just before the mare’s foal is born. The story line provides opportunities for Locker’s brush to capture a variety of  magnificent rural landscapes. As always, the paintings provide a feast for the eyes.

Review of Miranda's Smile and Other Books by Thomas Locker

 Miranda’s Smile by Thomas Locker. This warm story about the affection between the artist’s daughter and her father as he paints her portrait is enhanced throughout with full page paintings that remind one Review of Miranda's Smile, back coverof the eighteenth and nineteenth century masters. Having this book in your home is sure to help your children cultivate a taste for fine art. BTH-5368.


Sailing with the Wind

Review of Sailing With the Wind and Other Books by Thomas LockerSailing with the Wind by Thomas Locker. In this book, young Elizabeth accompanies her Uncle Jack in his sailboat down the river to the ocean she has never seen — the farthest she’s ever been from home — in fulfillment of a promise made years ago. Locker’s gorgeous paintings bring out the beauty of the river and the sky, as his words paint a picture of the warm relationship between Elizabeth and her Uncle Jack, whom she only sees every couple of years when he returns from his ship voyages and visits her family.

Review of Sky Tree and Other Books by Thomas LockerSky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art by Thomas Locker with Candace Christiansen. HarperCollins, 1995. The author himself says of this book in his Author’s Note, ” Sky Tree invites adults and children to experience the life of a tree and its relationship to the sky in several different ways. Through storytelling, art appreciation, and scientific exploration, Sky Tree attempts to reach both the heart and mind.”

It does. As each season progresses and changes, the reader sees a full-page color painting of the tree against the sky. On the facing page are a sentence or two describing the picture and at the bottom a question to help the reader interact with the picture. At the back of the book is a section where the author or Ms. Christiansen gives answers to the questions at the bottoms of the pages. The author is referred to in the third person in this section. This book can cross the curriculum from art to science and can suit all ages interested in art, trees, or seasons. Unpaginated.

The Ugly Duckling and other books illustrated by Thomas LockerThe Ugly Duckling as told by Marianna Mayer. Illustrated by Thomas Locker.

Review of Water Dance and Other Books by Thomas LockerWater Dance by Thomas Locker. Harcourt Voyager Book, paperback. ©1997, later printing. This is an illustrated poem on the water cycle. At the end of the book is a scientific explanation of what is happening in each picture beside a thumbnail of each picture that appeared earlier. This is a great science/literature tie-in. Condition: New. ISBN: 0152163964  Unpaginated. BTH-466. $5.40-D

Review of Where the River Begins and Other Books by Thomas LockerWhere the River Begins by Thomas Locker. Penguin, 1993. Unpaginated. Two boys like to sit on the summer evenings and watch a nearby river flow by them. They wondered where it began. Since they knew how much their grandfather loved the river, they decided to ask him to take them on a camping trip to find the river’s beginning. He agrees, and young readers follow them along the river. Each double page spread has a gorgeous painting of whatever river view they are seeing. BTH-2809. $6.29-D

The Young Artist:  Review of The Young Artist and Other Books by Thomas LockerAdrian, a talented young man apprenticed to an artist, hates doing portraits for people because he has been taught to paint the truth, and people don’t want the truth in a portrait — they want to look better than they are. Imagine his horror when commanded to come to the king’s palace to paint a large portrait that included all 27 members of the court! He is saved from the wrath of the vain nobles by the beautiful pictures he has painted of his one friend at court — the king’s beloved daughter. Locker’s paintings that illustrate this book are an art gallery in themselves. For children 4-8.

A World of Reading Choices