Many picture books have anonymous settings, but some include authentic landmarks identifying locations that can be pinpointed on a map. Traveling from west coast to east coast, several Caldecott Award books feature settings in the United States, and we can become armchair travelers through the illustrations.
My first glimpse of Margaret Wise Brown’s house on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, was from a boat. It topped a granite slope, clapboard siding painted the same gray-blue as the sparkling Hurricane Sound. I was so excited I nearly fell overboard. We’d just passed the Little Island that Margaret had made famous in her Caldecott-winning book and I’d spotted a seal dozing on the rocks.… more
In August 2016, I traveled to Vinalhaven Island off the coast of Maine to participate in a week-long festival honoring former resident Margaret Wise Brown. I gave a talk one evening, and, most fun of all, led a workshop in which attendees penned poetry and even a picture book in Margaret’s lyrical style. Back home again, I wrote about my island experience and my personal connection to Margaret in a Knock Knock essay published last August, “Borrowed Magic.”… more
We have just returned from a trip to the Boston/Concord area and Maine. It was a bit of a literary trip. Three days in Concord, Massachusetts set the stage as we toured Louisa May Alcott’s house and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, too. We followed The Amble, which became more of A Ramble, between Emerson’s home and Thoreau’s cottage at Walden Pond.… more
Phyllis: This summer I had the opportunity to sail for a week in Lake Superior, so we are turning our thoughts to books about the sea (including the great inland sea that borders Minnesota, so vast it makes its own weather). If we can’t go sailing right now, we can at least read about it in a fleet of good picture books.… more
Thirteen years. The project I began in 2003 has had that many birthdays. It occupies two large crates in my office. It has dominated my life, involving travel, research, reading. It has spawned four versions, each dragging multiple drafts. Rejections span ten years. Nobody, it seems, wants this book. “Kids won’t be interested.” The subject, Margaret Wise Brown, would find this funny. … more