Gustaf Tenggren's World

Gustaf Tenggren
awarded member of
Society of Illustrators'
Hall of Fame 1917

See images from the event

The book on Gustaf
Commercial art
Disney period
Golden Books
Dogfish Head
Image Gallery


Gustaf's period of Golden Books

Which one is the World's most published children's picture-book, and who illustrated it? Not many people know that the originator to the images in the World's most printed and sold children's book is Swedish. By the millennium shift 2000, Janette Sebring Lowrey's The Poky Little Puppy with illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren had sold almost 15 million copies and since then, a couple of more print runs has been made from the book.

The naughty pup in "The Poky Little Puppy" became the favourite of millions of American children when it was first published in 1942

Furthermore, the disobediant puppy has resulted in numerous of different articles, like grammophone records, interactive CD-ROM discs, jigsaw puzzles, decorating ornaments, t-shirts and much more. The Poky Little Puppy is an icon and well known by almost every American, both the elderly that grew up with the book and by their children and grandchildren in turn.

Tenggren's Story Book, 1944

This book alone qualifies him a record holder, but during the twenty years he worked for Simon and Schuster, he produced 25 books in total, and many of them were million-sellers too, for example The Saggy Baggy Elephant, hitherto printed in more than seven million copies.

Farm stories, 1946

Quite a lot of the books he made for Simon and Schuster had the prefix "Tenggren's" before the title as a kind of quality mark; a warranty that the tale was interpreted by an authority in the area of illustration. As such, he made versions of classic story selections, like Golden Tales from Arabian Nights or compilations of traditional legends, like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Gustaf Tenggren was a legitimate story-teller of USA's and thus, his books can be found in millions and millions of homes all over the World.

Tenggren's Cowboys and Indians, 1946

Actually, this makes Gustaf Tenggren the most published Swedish artist ever. As a matter of fact, he is probably the most well-known Swedish artist in the World, far more than his fellow-countrymen Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson or John Bauer.

Tenggren's Pirates, Ships and Sailors, 1950

You would think the Swedish nation would feel a bit glad for Tengren's fame, in the way we celebrate other famous Swedes, for example John Ericsson, August Strindberg, Alfred Nobel, Astrid Lindgren, ABBA or Bjrn Borg. But the truth is that if you go out in the Swedish streets and ask a large number of persons who Gustaf Tenggren is, you won't get a single right answer. Gustaf is totally unknown among the Swedes.

The Canterbury Tales, 1961

It's a true mystery that Sweden, having a good reputation in the World as a nation with a concern for children's literature and culture, hasn't paid more respect to its great son Gustaf Tenggren. One thing is true: his Golden Books from the forties and fifties will live for many print runs yet, and keep fascinating generations of book readers to come.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table, 1962

Bedtime Stories, 1942
The Lively Little Rabbit, 1943
The Shy Little Kitten, 1946
The Big Brown Bear, 1947
The Saggy Baggy Elephant, 1947
Little Black Sambo, 1948
The Little Trapper, 1950
The Tawny Scawny Lion, 1952
Thumbelina, 1953
Topsy Turvy Circus, 1953
Jack and the Bean Stalk, 1953
The Golden Goose, 1954
The Giant with the Three Golden Hairs, 1955
Snow White and Rose Red, 1957
The Lion's Paw, 1960
Where is thePoky Little Puppy?, 1962