When you were a child, did you yearn to go blueberry picking with Sal?
Were you thrilled when deep-water man Burt Dow, his seagull sidekick and his multi-colored boat the Tidley-Idley were swallowed by a whale?
Have you made a pilgrimage to Boston to see the famous ducklings parading across the Public Garden?
Whether Robert McCloskey’s wonderful books were a part of your childhood or if your first introduction to his magic was reading them to your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, they likely made an indelible impression on you.
As a youngster, I pretended Sally and Jane were my friends and imagined that I accompanied them on their escapades. My make-believe companions and I were reunited this summer, where the work of their marvelous author and illustrator father is on display at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick.
Called ROBERT MCCLOSKEY: THE ART OF WONDER, the warm and wonderful exhibition is a collaboration between the library and the Illustration Institute, a Portland-based organization founded and run by Peaks Island residents Scott Nash and Nancy Gibson-Nash, who I’m fortunate to count as dear friends.
As hardworking as they are endlessly creative, they arranged to borrow some of McCloskey’s materials from the May Massee Collection at Emporia State University in Kansas, which houses McCloskey’s original book illustrations, manuscripts and other papers.
The Brunswick exhibition, which includes nearly 70 original Robert McCloskey illustrations, focuses on four Maine-set books (Blueberries For Sal, One Morning in Maine, Time of Wonder and Burt Dow, Deep-water Man) and also features extensive sketches of the brood of ducklings made famous by McCloskey’s 1941 award-winning classic, Make Way For Ducklings.
ROBERT MCCLOSKEY: THE ART OF WONDER opened in June and by the end of August, more than 75,000 (!) people had visited. I’m willing to bet most every one of them was wearing a delighted smile when they left the library.
Robert McCloskey’s gentle humor and the brilliant detail of his art bring back happy memories of losing oneself in exquisitely illustrated stories where curious, independent children were encouraged to explore blueberry fields, beaches and sailboats, learning about themselves and their capabilities (and meeting a few bears along the way).
Here’s a link to more information about the exhibition: https://www.illustrationinstitute.org/new-page-5
It’s recently been extended through the end of October. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’ll stir many happy memories. Don’t miss it!
Brenda Buchanan brings years of experience as a journalist and a lawyer to her crime fiction. She has published three books featuring Joe Gale, a newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. She’s now hard at work on new projects. FMI, go to http://brendabuchananwrites.com