Monday, April 13, 2015


When she was eight years old, Ursula Koering's (1921-1976) parents sent her to the Philadelphia College of Art to take weekend art classes. She continued through her teen years, matriculating as a full-time student at the College upon her high school graduation. 

When she left the College of Art, she looked for illustration work -- even though her degree had been in sculpture. In the post-war period, she drew for children's magazines and books. She may be best known for the THE FIRST BOOK OF series (THE FIRST BOOK OF INDIANS, THE FIRST BOOK OF NEGROES, etc.).

Later in life, she did secure a job with The Franklin Mint, and she was able to apply her sculpture skills. 

Here are some of her drawings for THE TROLLEY CAR FAMILY by Eleanor Clymer. It's copyright 1947. These scan are from the Scholastic edition, fifth printing (September, 1962). The story is about Pa Parker, who has just lost his job at the trolley car company. The company is switching to busses, you see, and, so, Mr. Parker is out of a job. The family must downsize, so they get an old trolley car destined for the scrap yard and use that for their house. 

"It's the end of the line for the trolley car, but it's a beginning of fun and adventure for the trolley car family."

No word on why good ol' Pa Parker can't just up and drive a bus. But then Parkers wouldn't have to move into an old trolley car, and, of course, then there wouldn't be this popular (five printings at least!) book. 

What drew me to the book was Ms. Koering's penmanship. Her ease with shading and crosshatching --and the liveliness of her line. 

Ariel Winter's "We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie" blog has a wonderful profile of Ursula Koering. 

The trolley-as-home floor plan is mesmerizing. I would have gotten into this as a kid.

Promo text from the back of the book:

"Something is wrong. Cranky Mr. Jefferson is sure of it. Those noisy Parker children next door are much too quiet.

"Something is wrong at the Parker home. Pa Parker has just lost his job. Pa has been driving a trolley car for years. Now the trolley car company is changing to busses. Drive a new-fangled bus? Not Pa Parker! No wonder all the Parkers are worried.

"But if Pa doesn’t have a job, he does have a trolley car. And what could be more sensible than living in the trolley ‘til Pa gets another job. So off they go — Ma and Pa Parker, Sally, Bill, George and Little Peter — and of all people, cranky Mr. Jefferson too. Bouncing and bumping on the trolley tracks, they park their new home at the last stop. It’s the end of the line for the trolley car, but it’s the beginning of fun and adventure for the trolley car family."

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