Poet And Artist: Joan Anglund

Selected poems by


Joan Walsh Anglund

Poem #1

One seed can start a garden
One drop can start a sea
One doubt can start a hating
One dream can set us free

Poem # 2

I have bravery to spend on pain
I have faith to wall up fear
I have courage to fight danger when it comes
But there is no defense against loneliness

Poem # 3

A bird does not sing because he has an answer
He sings because he has a song

Poem # 4

Loneliness speaks to loneliness
And though we mask ourselves
with words or silences,
Our needs leap out from all we do
and speak to those alike.

Poem # 5

Sleep is a small death…
yet we do not fear it.
Sleep is a small death…
Does it tell us of a larger dream?

Anglund became popular in the 1960s for her unique style of illustrations featuring round-faced children without mouths or noses. Many readers have equated Anglund’s cherubic figures with the virtues of innocence and chastity, with some commenting that Anglund’s artwork inspires unexpected feelings of nostalgia and emotionalism. Anglund has written more than ninety children’s books—including picture books, children’s poetry, lullabies, religious verses and prayers—as well as composing her own adult poetry and providing illustrations for contemporary authors.

Anglund was born on January 3, 1926, in Hinsdale, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas F. Anglund, a commercial artist, and Mildred Pfiefer Walsh, a painter. In 1944 she attended the Chicago Art Institute, later transferring to the American Academy of Art in 1945. While studying in Chicago, she became an apprentice commercial artist under the tutelage of Adele Roth. She met Robert Anglund and the couple was married in 1947. Anglund’s literary career began after she was inspired to write by a group of neighborhood children playing near her home. While watching the children, she wrote the text for A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You (1958). Many of her illustrations are based on people and places from her own life—particularly her two children, Joy and Todd. As the popularity of her children’s works continued to grow, Anglund’s artwork began appearing on a wide range of consumer merchandise, including dolls, plates, greeting cards, notebooks, ceramics, calendars, prints, and Christmas ornaments. Beginning in 1979, Anglund started writing and illustrating a special quarterly segment for Good Housekeeping magazine and her artwork has since been featured in Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day and Family Circle.

Joan Anglund
First Book

Her books have been translated into several languages, published in over fourteen countries, and have sold more than forty million copies worldwide.

Anglund’s picture books, which typically present tales promoting Christian values or retellings of classic fables, have attracted a large popular audience. A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You and Do You Love Someone? (1971) both focus on convincing children that love, friendship, and loyalty are essential to a young person’s happiness. Anglund wrote A Child’s Book of Old Nursery Rhymes (1973) for her grandchild, collecting a variety of traditional nursery songs and rhymes and accompanying them with her own distinct illustrations. A similar work, The Joan Walsh Anglund Story Book (1978) presents selections of folktales, poems, and lullabies, targeted towards a preschool audience. A Gift of Love (1980), one of Anglund’s best-selling works, is an anthology collection, including reprints of A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You, Love Is a Special Way of Feeling (1960), Christmas Is a Time of Giving (1961), What Color Is Love? (1966) and Do You Love Someone? These five works all examine Anglund’s recurring fascination with love, innocence, and the emotional development of children, while presenting some of Anglund’s most popular illustrations from her career thus far.

Anglund is also an accomplished children’s poet and The Joan Walsh Anglund Book of Poetry (1987) presents thirty-six of the author’s original poems. The poems offer lyrical reflections on images and emotions from a child’s perspective, discussing animals, special places, and seasons of the year. In 1996 Anglund published an additional collection, Poems of Childhood, which features a twenty-six poem cycle, following a group of children as they play throughout the year. Anglund has also released several popular seasonal children’s works, including Christmas Is Love (1988) in which her famously mouthless children are depicted against holiday settings. In A Christmas Sampler: A New Collection of Holiday Treasures (2001) Anglund includes examinations of traditional carols, customs, and historical festivals, a selection of original poems, and a recipe for gingerbread cookies.

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