In November I had the pleasure of being invited by a friend to the Children’s Illustration Exhibit at the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton, MA, which ran from November 9, 2015- January 15, 2015.
First things first, I had no idea that anything actually interesting happened anywhere near where I go to school. Secondly, I didn’t realize so many amazing authors and illustrators lived in Massachusetts. The gallery featured walls and walls of amazing work and was accompanied by many of the books whose illustrations were featured being on sale by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
I had the pleasure of seeing tons of artwork from Dr. Seuss to Maurice Sendak and meeting many authors and illustrators of whom I adore. There was Tony DiTerlizzi (author and illustrator of The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Search for WondLa series).
Then there was Mo Willems (creator of the popular book series’ Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus). I actually knew Mo Willems from his prior work in cartoons while I was growing up. Shows like Sheep in the Big City (2000-2002), The Off-Beats (1996-1998) as well as work on Codename Kids Next Door (2002-2008). He seemed pleasantly surprised that anyone was actually bringing up any of these cartoons, which I personally was surprised by because the minute I heard his name I instantly thought of all these shows. I suppose that comes with all the childhood nostalgia. We had a nice chat about them. I thought to myself how interesting it must be to meet the audience for the show you had created long ago as adults now. 6-year-olds don’t have much of an outgoing voice, but here I am at 22 and I still remember them all like it was yesterday.
I got a copy of his book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, which he signed for me. Though I wish I had one of the DVD sets of the Off-Beats or Sheep in the Big City onhand (not that they were ever released). Excuse how strange my face looks, I was way too excited and there was a ceiling light right above my head.
After that I met none other than Marc Brown! If you don’t know Marc Brown, he’s the creator of one of the longest running children’s series, Arthur. Arthur was a huge part of my growing up.
Arthur coated school walls, libraries and the PBS kids segment. I was just a little excited to run into him. He was also incredibly nice, not that I expected any less. I bought an Arthur book, Arthur Writes a Story, for him to sign and…well there was a tiny miscommunication when I told him “Damian with a double-a” because he wrote “to Daamian.” I told him it was fine but he said he had to make up for it and signed the other side, doodling a picture of Arthur for me. It was pretty great, plus I made out with my own original Arthur drawing.
I had this small urgency to let him in on the long going Arthur meme online but decided not to…it would be way too hard to explain how fairly innocent screencaps of a children’s television program can be so outrageously humorous for little to no reason. I guess that’s…just what happens when your preschool audience is almost entirely in their mid-twenties now, huh?
Anyway, it was quite exhilarating and fulfilling to meet such creative people, especially so many that had such an effect on my growing up.
If I’m around I’m hoping I can go again come next year! Maybe I’ll get a chance to meet a few of the other authors and illustrators I missed out on.