695 – Bernie Magruder

Bernie Magruder

Bernie Magruder and the Case of the Big Stink,
cover for paperback edition by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Acryla gouache on Bristol board
Collection of the artist

In my early years of publishing children’s books I often had to supplement my income by taking on freelance jobs. One of those jobs that I loved doing was covers for other books. I was assigned a series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor called the Bernie Magruder Series. Bernie’s basically like a modern day Encyclopedia Brown but there’s a quaintness to the story when you read them that I loved. Again, it immediately took me to Norman Rockwell’s, depictions of America.

The very first Bernie Magruder cover I did was The Case of the Big Stink where he has to evacuate a hotel because there’s the possibility of a poisonous gas. The idea of him rushing past this sign for the hotel immediately made me think of Rockwell’s No Swimming painting that he did way back when. This first cover for Bernie Magruder was a very, I don’t even say it’s an homage, I think it’s more a pastiche of Rockwell’s famous painting.