Teaching first grade at the Waldorf school, I visited with dragons and elves, fairies, giants, gnomes, all the mythical creatures that our ancestors in the very early days described in stories they told one another. As the curriculum framework was designed to accompany children as they retrace the human journey into literacy, fairy tales, old old stories that predate writing, were the stories of choice in first grade academic classes. As the teacher, it was my role to choose which fairy tales to tell, and that meant finding the stories appropriate to each group of children I taught, learning the stories by heart, telling them to the children,, and then, in some cases, drawing blackboard pictures to suggest a magical world to my students, in my classroom. Lessons were built around these stories, and in doing their school work the students stepped through the golden door to literacy, in number, word, and idea. That meant of course that I had to explore the literature of fairy tales. I borrowed books from the library and scoured second hand books stores, building my own book collection so that I had at hand during the school year lots and lots of stories for selection. It was a delightful assignment. These stories of course originated before books, and the illustrations were before books, as well. Before they were put on paper, or drawn on rock or stone, those first fairy tale pictures emerged in words as the story was told.. They were seen by each individual who heard and was touched by the tale, and so they fed the soul. The development of writing in human history led to the beginning of books, written out by hand with hand drawn decorations. And the development of books led to the printing press. Fairy tales also were written down, collected from the oral tradition by European writers and historians, and as fairy tales found their way to the printing press, they were often accompanied by illustrations reproduced with woodblock and later metal engraving and etching. Those single color line illustrations were reproduced in modern black and white in many of the fairy tale collections I perused, and I copied some of the illustrations in chalk for my blackboard drawings at school. I particularly liked the Red Fairy Book edited by Andrew Lang, and I often found stories there that fit my class. I told the story of Kari Woodengown and put on the board a drawing taken from an illustration by H.J.Ford (Dover publications The Red Fairybook, illustrators H.J.Ford and Lancelot Speed). I was so glad that those drawings had been published, because the creative task of illustration extends beyond the mere graphic execution, and I was able to reproduce rather than invent much of what I drew to illustrate lessons at school. Fairy tale publishers through the years called on artists of vast reputation:, Gustave Dore, Walter Crane, Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish and others whose artistry established a high standard in book illustration. As people write new stories and as we continue to enjoy and republish the old stories, modern artists take their turn at portraying the often supernatural creatures who make the fairy stories so much fun, When former Waldorf teacher Leni Covington began her fairy tale project, The Shoemaker and the Elves, published by Kenyon Avenue Press this year, she called on an artist friend Taylor Randolph, to collaborate. Taylor Randolph’s elves danced about in promotional announcements of the new book, and I was eager to meet the artist whose illustrations clearly captured the friendly good spirit of the Shoemaker tale. Born in southern Virginia, Taylor Randolph attended Salem College in North Carolina where she considered a biology major before shifting her focus, leading to a degree in art. Further study in the arts took her to Europe. After Europe, Taylor and her husband moved to Louisiana. Their family life included a stint at the Red Cloud Reservation in the Dakotas, where they both taught school. Her husband, who is an engineer, taught science, and she taught art, and she continued with teaching when they moved to Charlottesville, substituting, and keeping her own painting alive at home. “There is energy in art, that’s what I like.” Though she has traveled the world, Taylor Randolph is in Virginia now, in Charlottesville. When I stopped by her house to pick up a copy of the newly released fairy tale, I mentioned that I liked her drawings, and she made mention of German artists. I wanted to hear more, and she agreed to meet me at the Mud House on the downtown mall, a perfect setting for coffee and conversation in the outside open air. With the light of an artist in her eye, Taylor Randolph told me that as a college student she participated in a study abroad program in Italy. She still recalls with visible pleasure the feeling she experienced seeing in person the Italian art she had studied in reproductions in school, saying, ”It was a real rush just to stand in that space.” The illustration work, she told me, didn’t develop until after she left Italy for Germany, where she met her future husband and supported herself with layout work in magazine advertising. In Heidelberg, she approached a publishing house that specialized in medical illustration. “I didn’t have a portfolio,” she said, speaking of the collection of work that an artist usually presents when seeking employment. “I showed them my travel diary.” And they clearly saw promise. With her interest in both biology and art, the world of medical illustration suited her well, and she honed her artistic technique on the job. “Basically, I did an apprenticeship,” she remembers, moving step by step to drawing with pen and diluted wash for the medical books, employing water color in books aimed more at the lay person market. When she returned to the United States, she continued to paint. “I did illustration for medical doctors here,” she said, and in her home studio worked in watercolor and oil. “It’s just in me to paint,” she said. “I’m so happy I’ve had art in my life.” The illustrations Taylor Randolph contributed to Leni Covington’s fairy tale project were painted in watercolor, and, as Charles Dickens worked directly with illustrators to bring his characters to life on the printed page, so Covington and Randolph worked together to bring the fairy tale project to life. Wanting an illustrator for the fairy tale she was preparing for publication, Leni Covington turned to a friend and colleague. “Leni’s the one who came to me,” Taylor said of the collaboration. “She had the project in mind, and she told me, ’This is not going to go fast,’ and it didn’t.” Their discussions included visualization of the illustrations and the relation of the pictures to the text. “She’s a Waldorf teacher,” Taylor said, “and I knew I would be way too literal. I told her, tell me anything you want changed.” Neither woman had connections in the book industry or to modern printing specifications, but they shared a feeling for the story and the impression they hoped to achieve. Work continued sporadically for quite some time, giving way to other life events, including visits to out of town family, but the women continued to develop their ideas. “Finally, last fall,” Taylor said, “Leni told me all right. I’m on it.” And The Elves and the Shoemaker was on top of the list. Covington had found a mentor in the printing industry, and the book the author and illustrator had imagined changed format. Pictures were digitalized and enlarged, and colors changed. “The reds and greens” Taylor explained,”were some of the more difficult colors, and the yellows — they didn’t print like the originals.” Now with one book in the world, Covington and Randolph have begun thinking of the next project, knowing now the decisions they can make to maintain the print quality they envision for their new book, a Spanish fairy tale. While Leni Covington works on the text, Taylor Randolph is beginning to plan the paintings that will illustrate the next collaboration at Kenyon Avenue Press.