e-bike adventures!

I recently shared that I got an e-bike. I wanted it to be able to pop downtown and to our various farmers markets without having to deal with the hassle (and expense!) of parking when everything is so close to where I live (alhtough just a tad too far to walk). I wasn't really sure if I'd use it all that much, so it's been wonderful to discover that I use my e-bike all the time and I love it so much!!! As such, I will have to share a new series based on my e-bike adventures, the friends I go on rides with, and the cool things we see!!! So, here we go!
     Here is a photo of "Marvin" on one of my first outings to a coffee shop in Wasena. Isn't Marvin pretty!?
This was right before they began construction for a new bridge, which is pretty amazing to see.
Parts of the Greenway are blocked off because of the construction, but a new route loops you through local neighborhoods for that stretch. Meanwhile, the Greenway still has it's magic, like this bona-fide fairy circle!
One Saturday, I headed to the Grandin Farmers Market...

and saw nice things...

and bought some lunch...
On another outing, I spotted two Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. They put on quite the show for me!
On anohter ride, I met up with friends at Black Dog Salvage.
We went all the way to the eastern end of the Greenway - what a treasure this path is - it runs the length of the Roanoke River as it meanders through downtown Roanoke. SO PRETTY!!! (Here's Meighan pointing out where we are and trying to figure out where we're going.)
Oh! And I also took Marvin to a festival downtown, where I listened to free music and had an empanada from a food truck.
SEE!? See how much fun I'm having with my e-bike!? In fact, I have to stop typing because I'm going riding with some friends today. Need to get ready... :)

Our New Margaret Wise Brown Reading Room

As you can imagine, we have a massive collection of some of the best picture books for our Graduate Programs in Children's Literature and Illustration here at Hollins University. We used to keep them all in file boxes and pull them out for students to use during summer semesters, then pack them back up again and put them in storage.
Well, now that we're expanding our programming to have a year-round option, students will need access to the books all year round; and since we've been receiving so many books as a result of our Margaret Wise Brown Prize (a Hollins alum), the collection has grown immensely and will keep doing so. So, we sought a more permanent space (at least for the time being). This is the space we decided to move into. It is a study space (and will still be), but only had one set of shelves and a bunch of old books noone was using anymore.

This was actually years in the making, and shelves had to be procured from one of our offices. Here are two of our facilities heroes, Andrew and Ryan, making sure the shelves are in place and configured as needed.
Student worker, Elizabeth helped place all the books on the shelves once they were up.
Sorting the books and labeling them was going to be the work of my Picture Book Trends workshop. As it turned out, Karen Coats, head of the Children's Lit program at the University of Cambridge wanted to come help. We ended up coming up with a brand new categorization system (I'll write a summary article about all this soon) that will make more sense in the long run and help the collection to grow. I had book dividers printed as our old dividers were looking quite tired.
We categorize our books via theme because our students oftentimes don't know who created a book, or even a title, they'll just know, for example: I want to write a story on "Friendship." What other books are there on friendship?" Hence, the theme-based categorization method.
Arranging the categories on the shelves was no small task. To be most strategic, we kept having to move them around. But we ended up quite happy with our results. And, of course, we featured Margaret Wise Brown's books and our prize winners.
We also created a display area for this year's MWB Prize winners.
And I added touches to mimic the Great Green Room from one of her most famous books, Goodnight Moon, by adding a red balloon and red carpets...
And Green beanbag chairs meant to represent the bed.
There's even a yellow rocking chair - I'll have to share a photo of that later. And Ashley Wolff, one of our summer professors, is going to create the windows from The Great Green Room this summer. So, there will be more to share soon!
     In the mean time, I'm thrilled to have our books in this space where more people can enjoy them and students can use them year-round!!!

My New Office

Here at Hollins U, I have inherited the Children's Lit office - the office of my predecessors since 1992! It's in a lovely corner of the refurbished (but OLD) Swannanoa Building, overlooking the Visual Arts Center, Moody Dining Hall, and the hub of campus life. Amanda Cockrell, who occupied this space for decades, comes by for lunch often and she loves what I've done with the place! My immediate predecessor, Lisa Fraustino, arrives today along with our summer students. I hope she likes it too. I'm trying to make it mine, while making sure it screams how much we love Children's Literature and Illustration!

What do you think?

Visiting the Hollins Archives

We have a fabulous and gorgeous library at Hollins University, and part of that is our incredible archives! (Is that singular or plural?) At any rate, Isabel Folck and I have become fast friends, geeking out over some of the treasures she's been unearthing in our collections. Recently, she put together a collection of items for us to enjoy for my Picture Book Trends workshop (more on that later). We saw some really special things, and it's amazing that we have these treasures right here on campus. In no particular order, we saw...
This beautiful picture book was hand lettered, and just so special!
I'll have to get Isabel to remind me what this type of book is called, or maybe someone can leave a note in the comments? Look at how intricate it was!

I loved this peek inside book. The book acted as an accordian and the entire story unfolded before you through the little hole.

This was my favorite treasure - a hand-drawn sketch by Garth Williams, the illustrator I hold most responsible for making me want to become a children's book illustrator in the first place.

Look at that mark-making!
There was also a signed copy of Maurice Sendak's Higglety-Pigglety-Pop!

There was even a hand-written and illustrated thank you note from Maurice to our own Francelia Butler! Just, WOW!
Something I wasn't expecting was a set of Japanese folk/fairy tales set on rice paper that was of a quality more like fabric than paper. The stories were (obviously) translated into English, and the art was stunning. I hope I can spend more time with these in the future!
There were two pop-up books: Le Petit Prince and Tomie DePaola's Giorgio's Village.

I didn't expect to see mini Golden Book classics, that was fun!
Or a signed fantasy print by Tim Hildebrandt.
And my socks were blown off by a hand-letter-pressed and color printed copy of a Walter Crane comic books. WOWSA!!!

But probably the best thing in the collection was an original copy, with real fur (they didn't keep doing real because they had issues with mites and lice in the warehouse) of Margaret Wise Brown's Fur Family.

Isabel even had a print test, not yet cut or folded!
All said, it was marvelous to be able to enjoy all these treasures and know that they are being safely stored for future generations to goggle over like we did!! Thank you, Isabel!