The yearlong Margaret Wise Brown Festival got off to a gleeful start this summer with the Goodnight Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations exhibition in the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, featuring original illustrations from Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, paired with those of contemporary children’s book artists Thacher Hurd, Ashley Wolff, and Ruth Sanderson.
Thacher Hurd, a children’s book author and illustrator (Art Dog and Mama Don’t Allow), is the son of the late Clement Hurd, a close friend of Margaret Wise Brown who illustrated her most famous books, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Hurd read to seventy-five children and parents during the festival’s first of six Saturday morning story hours that will take place through April 2012. He also entertained a standing-room-only crowd of adults with stories about Brown passed down through his family. Although Thacher was a favorite of Brown’s, he was three years old when she died and does not personally remember her.
Other summer activities included a highly successful painting workshop for children by Ashley Wolff and a lecture by Ruth Sanderson, both nationally acclaimed illustrators and members of the children’s literature graduate program faculty. Using Brown’s book I Like Bugs as his “text,” Associate Professor of Biology Morgan Wilson led an entomology workshop for children.
The fall will showcase a Hollins Theatre production of a musical version of Goodnight Moon, the Hollins University Concert Choir and Valley Chamber Orchestra performance of the classical lullaby Goodnight Moon, and a Halloween-themed story hour. Santa Claus (a.k.a. theatre chair Ernie Zulia) will read Brown’s Christmas and winter stories on December 3 by the Christmas tree in Hollins’ own Great Green Room.
Spring will feature instrumentalists from the Roanoke Symphony performing a narrated musical version of The Runaway Bunny, a scavenger hunt on Front Quad, and for April Fool’s Day an adults-only reading of Goodnight Moon spoofs and spinoffs.
The festival will end at Reunion 2012, which will mark the eightieth anniversary of Brown’s graduation from Hollins in 1932, the seventieth anniversary of The Runaway Bunny, the sixty-fifth anniversary of Goodnight Moon, and the sixtieth anniversary of Brown’s untimely death at age forty-two.
For a complete schedule of festival activities, visit Hollins’ Margaret Wise Brown Festival Web page. All events are open to the public. Also, check out additional photos taken at Thacher Hurd’s June reading on the Margaret Wise Brown Facebook page.