Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint

From the distinguished author-illustrator of the maritime Tim series and winner of the Kate Greenaway medal comes this classic picture book that was recommended to our editor by a children’s bookseller in Princeton, NJ. “Please find out if Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint is still in print,” she implored, “and if it is not, please do all you can to publish it.” With some difficulty we procured the book, which was indeed out of print, read it, and fell in love.

Here is the story of two children, Sarah and Simon, whose father is a painter, and who live with their parents and baby brother in a big room called a Studio. Their father is talented, but unacknowledged, and so the family is poor, though very happy. When the story opens, the father is painting his masterpiece. Sarah and Simon are good little helpers and spend their time doing chores and visiting their favorite place in town: the old second-hand bookshop with its kind owner. Soon the masterpiece is almost finished, except for the bit of red paint needed to complete it, and even the dealer agrees to buy it if it were finished the next day. But there is no more red paint, and no more money left with which to buy it. So Sarah and Simon set out to help their father, and to their surprise, end up reconciling their family with an estranged uncle and restoring the family fortune as well—all with the help and kind solicitation of the bookshop owner…

Godine is proud to bring this classic with its detailed line drawings and delicate watercolor illustrations back into print, and our thanks to the good bookshop buyer who came to the rescue of this wonderful book.

The cross-hatched ink and sepia-washed drawings in Edward Ardizzone’s newly republished Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint evoke another lost era, that of Britain in the early 1960s. In a pleasantly old-fashioned story that begins with struggle and ends with redemption, we meet two children who live with their mother, their baby brother, and their father, a painter, “in a great big room called a Studio.” Though loving, the family is poor, for it seems that when the painter refused to renounce art and embrace business, his rich Uncle Robert had cut him off without a farthing. Willingly, Sarah and Simon help their parents make do: They wash their father’s brushes, sit for portraits, run errands. Their favorite refuge is a shabby second-hand bookshop, whose owner lets them read all they like in exchange for doing a bit of dusting. So when their father runs out of red paint—and money—just as he is completing his masterpiece, it is to the bookshop that the children run. And it is there, after overhearing their anguished conversation, that a crusty old customer decides that he will reveal himself not only as an artistic well-wisher but also as . . . ah, but that would be telling.
—Wall Street Journal 

Edward Ardizzone, born in 1900 in French Indochina, became a war artist during World War II. He illustrated more than twenty children’s books including classics by Dickens, Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas and Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda series.