Ruth Sanderson's FOUR FUR FEET

I'm thrilled to have my good friend, mentor, and boss at Hollins University here today. Please welcome Ruth Sanderson as she shares her newest illustrated book written by Margaret Wise Brown, for a special new project...

By Ruth Sanderson

      I was thrilled to be asked to illustrate Four Fur Feet by Margaret Wise Brown, a sweet rhyming story, to launch The Early Literacy Project at Hollins University, where I co-direct the MFA in Writing and illustrating for children. Two professors came up with the concept to create a series of books that incorporated hints to parents and caregivers when reading with a very young child. This has never been done to my knowledge. Hollins owns the copyright to many Margaret Wise Brown’s manuscripts, which were left to Hollins, her Alma Mater, so this story was chosen from the manuscripts available. Future books in the series will be written and illustrated by our MFA students, who will compete to win a significant tuition stipend equivalent to an industry book advance.
It was a challenge to figure out the look and placement of the little logo I designed of a ladybug adult reading to a child. I placed the logo along with caregiver hints on the bottom right of each page for continuity, much smaller than the story text so not to be confusing. I had to design the pages carefully as we wanted the art to be full bleed and had to leave plain areas for the text to fit. Another challenge in fitting everything and making it readable was the fact that the final board books were to be less than six inches square! I settled on 7pt type for the caretaker notes, small, but still readable.

      Turn the Page is a non-profit organization in Roanoke, Virginia whose mission is “to provide every child in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own library of books during the crucial early years of life.” Turn the Page’s goal in part is to give books to every mom who delivers a baby at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRMH). This fall, in partnership with Hollins, the nonprofit organization gave the hospital 5,000 free copies of Four Fur Feet! The Early Literacy Project at Hollins plans to do a study on a number of the children and families who receive these books, and whether/how the caregiver hints positively affect the children/families involved.

      The book itself is not currently available in bookstores online. I believe it will be eventually sold through the Hollins Store and at local venues in Roanoke. I am offering signed copies along with a print on my website ( The print of the fox and boats is shown here.)
Visit The Early Literacy Project Home Page to hear the book set to song!


Jane Yolen said...

What a grand idea and a great teaching moment--seeking out, finding, or inventing new ways to use one's talent and originality. Making new what was old, refining a talent, refinding and refunding a career. We should all take heed in whatever stage of our creative lives.

Jane Yolen

Elizabeth O Dulemba said...

Indeed! :) e