Alan Suddon and the Oberon Press© 2010, Natassia Flanjak, Zalika Arthur-Hall, Jessica Ngo
The story of Cinderella is one that has gone through many different treatments and variations over time. From the text to the illustrations, the retelling of Cinderella is always different and offers something new to the reader. Alan Suddon's Cinderella is no exception. While the text is a standard retelling of Cinderella with some minor differences, it is Suddon's illustrations that sets this book apart. His collage art illustrations of the Cinderella story are easily enjoyed by both children and adults. They offer up a very different type of illustration that is not usually found in children's literature. It is a welcome breath of fresh air for children's literature, and is a great addition to Canadian children's literature.
The relationship between illustrator and publisher is not one that is at the forefront of the public's thought when they are delving into a children's picture book, but the relationship between the illustrator for Cinderella, Alan Suddon, and its publisher Oberon Press, is one that is unique in and of itself. Alan Suddon (1924-2000) was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and lived in Toronto for the majority of his adult life. He was most noted for his time as head of the fine arts department at Toronto's Metro Central Library. He received an award from the University of Toronto's Library Science Faculty for his work and contribution to the field. Suddon also has international acclaim as a collector of costumes, both antique and modern. He was a founding member of the Costume Society of Ontario. How Suddon came to illustrate a children's book was thanks to the founder of Canadian publishing house Oberon Press, Michael Macklem. Macklem had seen some collages that Suddon had made for his children based on the Cinderella story, and offered to publish them upon completion. Macklem himself wrote the variation of Cinderella that accompanies Suddon's collages, but goes unaccredited, (Helwig, 130). Oberon Press does not often publish children's books. More often they are known for Canadian fiction, poetry, history and biography. This departure into children's literature underscores the relationship between Suddon and Macklem, as illustrator and publisher. It also underscores the importance of taking risks in the publishing world: Suddon with his interest in collage, and Oberon Press with their exploration of children's literature.