This Land is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie, Paintings by Kathy Jakobsen
Available at the Woody Guthrie Store

Anyone with kids probably knows folk artist Kathy Jakobsen's work.  Her fine oil paintings illustrate some of our favorite books, including the incredible My New York.

When we decided to illustrate the lyrics of "This Land is Your Land" for kids, Kathy was asked to come aboard as the artist for this daunting task.  The lyrics of "This Land" have so many meanings to so many people.  It would be a real challenge to try to capture it all.   The answer came in one simple word...details.  Kids love details and Kathy is a master of detail!

Initially, Kathy came to the archives to do some research.  We loaded her down with every available book, recording, story, anecdote, family name and photo we had on Woody's life and creative work.  Then she disappeared for a year.

Next time we saw her she had read, listened to, looked at, fingered through and sketched out in her mind every detail we had fed her.   It was awesome how much she had absorbed.  "I work like a sponge," she said.

She worked for the next six months painting in her studio in Connecticut.  Every so often she'd drop by, or we'd go up to her place, to answer more questions.  She would show us what she was working on and continued to rack our memories, asking everything from "what color shirt did he wear?" to "what kind of fence was around the family home in Okemah?"  She studied up on American history - the Dust Bowl, the Depression, political movements.  The paintings grew and grew each time we saw them.  Landscapes formed, specifics were added, colors chose, peoples faces, friends and family members appeared.  Hundreds of facts and details were woven together to paint the bigger picture.

As you turn the pages with your kids, you'll see as much of Woody's life - his family, his friends, his travels, his beliefs, his songs, his legacy - as you might read in a 1000-page biography.  You'll also find an artist's unique vision of the simple words "this land was made for you and me."

From "This Land is Your Land" - performance pageWe decided to complete the book with a short biography of Woody's life specifically written for youngsters.  We added some of our favorite photos of Woody's life to enhance the story.  (Kids also like pictures!)

Kathy gave a year and a half of her life to give us years and years of Woody's past, present and future.  We are very, very grateful to her.

And created especially for educators, day care providers and others who work with children, Weston Woods has produced a new video using Kathy Jakobsen's paintings from her book.  Combined with photographs depicting Woody's life, the video creates a richly visual storyline with spoken narrative biography.

Kathy Jakobsen is one of America's premier folk artists.  Her paintings are part of a number of permanent collections, including those of the Museum of American folk Art and the Smithsonian.  She is represented by Frank J. Miele Gallery, in New York City.  She is also the illustrator of the acclaimed children's books Johnny Appleseed, by Reeve Lindbergh, and her own My New York and Meet Me in the Magic Kingdom.

    A Publishers Weekly Best Book
    A School Library Journal Best Book
    A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
    A Parenting Book of the Year


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