Draw Me a Story — Tell Me a Tale: Vermont Children’s Book Illustrators & Authors

June 13, 2017 – October 15, 2017
Ashley Wolff, Baby Bear Counts One

Ashley Wolff, Baby Bear Counts 7,  from Baby Bear Counts One

The Henry Sheldon Museum presents an exhibit of 18 esteemed contemporary Vermont children’s book authors/artists.  Their paintings, illustrations, and photographs, as well as books that feature their artworks will be scattered throughout the museum to be enjoyed by visiting children and adults.  Author readings, presentations, panel discussions, and hands-on activities are being planned throughout the run of the exhibit. A reception with the artists will be held in the exhibit on Friday, July 14 from 5-7 p.m. Free and open to the public.

A number of artists/authors specialize in works that help children learn numbers and the alphabet. Woody Jackson’s readers will count cows; one of Ashley Wolff’s books features a bear tallying bees, and Mary Azarian’s letters relate to the garden.  More adventuresome nature and travel stories are offered by Jan Reynolds, Peter Lourie, and Jim Arnosky.  Jan traveled to the Himalayas on assignment for National Geographic and captured a stunning image of a 16 year-old Sherpani who traversed the Salt Trail that reaches heights of 20,000 feet, while she carried a heavy backpack.  Jim, known by many for his fly-fishing books, also illustrates and offers studies of waterfowl, insects, and wild animals.  Peter encourages canoe travel in recounting his journey on the Hudson River from the Adirondacks to the Atlantic Ocean. The late environmentalist and musician Pete Seeger endorsed the book:  “I bet this book will persuade many to rent a canoe and repeat at least portions of Peter Lourie’s extraordinary trip. And for the rest of us it will give information we need to protect the river, restore it, and help see that it’s loved by young and old, rich and poor.” Warren Kimble also showcases America’s beauty with patriotic illustrations of flags and animals of the Vermont countryside.

Jason Chin, Gravity

Jason Chin, Gravity

Other authors take a more traditional, though usually humorous, approach to storytelling. Cartoonist Harry Bliss of The New Yorker Magazine, the New York Times, and Seven Days takes his readers on a trip to a museum, while Thatcher Hurd entertains with exploits of a mischievous mouse. Janet Hayward tells her story through poetry, complemented with illustrations of dragons and frogs. Vermonter and nationally-recognized author Reeve Lindbergh lauded Janet Hayward Burnham’s A Week Ago Cat as “delightful, a bright spirited collection of whimsical poems and magical paintings, put together with humor, lightness, and warmth of heart… specially recommended for grandmothers and grandchildren.”

Many of the featured artists/authors capture the imagination with animal characters. Sarah Dillard relates the adventures of heroic mice and chicks, while Tracey Campbell depicts levitating youngsters and friendly elephants.  John and Jennifer Churchman provide stunning photographs to accompany stories of sheep and other farm friends. Jason Chin adopts a more educational approach, introducing eager young learners to the mysteries of gravity, the wonders of the Galápagos Islands and life under the sea. Other subjects are the winter dragons and tales of train travel created by Deidre Gill. Baby robins and desperate dogs frolic though Eileen Christelow’s tales, and Phoebe Stone colorfully portrays themes of friendship among angels and animal characters especially bears.

Phoebe Stone, Band, from When the Wind Bears Go Dancing

Phoebe Stone, Band, from When the Wind Bears Go Dancing

The many authors and artists vary in age, background, experience, and style, but all have chosen to live in Vermont, finding inspiration from the state’s landscape, agriculture, village life, and friendly neighbors. They also draw inspiration from their own childhood memories, as well as more recent experiences with their children and grandchildren. A child’s imagination is limitless and these artists/authors perfectly capture the whimsy of possibility. Their colorful and creative works will captivate visitors of all ages.

Sarah Dillard, Uh Oh from Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day

Sarah Dillard, Uh Oh, from Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day