Tag Archives: children’s authors and illustrators

marc and arthur…

4 May

You know Arthur right? A cute, young aardvark (with an obnoxious little sister) who’s been on countless adventures both in books and on TV.

Well, we’re pretty familiar with this character here at our house.

That’s why last night my best boy Tom and I jumped at the chance to hear Marc Brown, prolific author and creator of Arthur, speak. He was visiting Cedar Rapids as part of the Metro Library Network’s Out Loud! author series. He shared insights on how and when he created Arthur (in a bedtime story for his son Tolon 35 years ago), where he works on the Arthur adventures (he lives on Martha’s Vineyard surrounded by lots of animals with entertaining names) and what he is working on now (illustrating a heart warming new book by author Judy Sierra). He even drew a few versions of Arthur…right before our very eyes!

He was very funny and honest and I could have listened to his stories all night. I decided Marc Brown is a kid at heart.

Perhaps that’s one of the keys to being successful in the world of Children’s Literature….for 35 years…and still going!

After he spoke Tom and I waited as patiently as possible for Mr. Brown to sign our Arthur books. Tom was anxious because earlier in the day he’d drawn a picture of Arthur he wanted to give to the Arthur master. He realized when creating his drawing he’d forgotten Arthur’s glasses…no problem, said Marc Brown….borrow my marker and add the glasses. Tom did and handed off the drawing. Marc Brown was genuinely touched. I was told later by another attendee that he saves all the drawings kids make for him. Add that fact to the growing list of reasons I heart Marc Brown.

We chatted with Mr. Brown for just a moment while he signed books. We chuckled at the fact that we have a D.W. at home (Lucy of course!) Marc Brown made the point to say that even though little sisters can be a little much when you are young (he would know…he has three!), that they grow up to be fun people. Again, bonus points for the author. He knows his stuff.

We snapped a cute picture…

Aren’t they cute? Marc Brown is saying “pizza!”

…thanked Marc Brown, and were on our way. And I am sure the memories will last, like Arthur, for at least 35 years.

So about this novel idea…

18 May

Of course there’s a long story behind the story I am starting to write (isn’t there always, really?!) So let’s start at the beginning…

In 2007 I was working as the Communications Coordinator for the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and was in charge of the promotions for an exhibition called “Hidden Treasure: Original Children’s Book Illustration from the Cedar Rapids Public Library.”  This exhibit featured works from famous children’s book illustrators—people like H.A. Rey, Bill Peet, Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak–and I of course fell in love with it. I love children’s books and was amazed to find out that here in Cedar Rapids we had this truly amazing collection of characters from beloved children’s stories. It was then I decided I would eventually write a book about the collection.

Then just a year later, in June of 2008, a devastating flood hit the city of Cedar Rapids. Being that the Cedar Rapids Public Library is just a block from the Cedar River, it was of course greatly impacted. In what is believed to be the worst single library disaster in U.S. history, some 160,000 library materials were destroyed…everything but the children’s collection (which was housed on the second floor of the library) and thankfully the illustrations!

Now, here I sit in 2010 still thinking about how those illustrations were spared from the nasty flood waters. They will live on for generations to enjoy. And in order to be part of sharing their story, I am writing a book for young readers—which for now we’ll call “Evelyn’s Drawings Can’t Swim”—that tells the story of the collection, the flood that tried to destroy them, and how they were saved. It will be fiction based on very important facts and this is one story I sure am proud to be telling.