Author Matthew Olshan has always been fascinated with flight. As a child, he loved going to the National Air and Space Museum and as an adult, he became certified as a private pilot. While researching the history of aviation, he came across the book Two Aerial Voyages of Dr. Jeffries with Mons. Blanchard, written in 1786, which inspired his picture book: A Voyage in the Clouds: The Mostly True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785. The book is illustrated by Caldecott-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall.
Olshan’s first collaboration with Blackall was the picture book The Mighty Lalouche, about a mailman who becomes a boxer. Olshan’s next picture book The Bird Thief, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, is based on naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, a bird collector in 1840s Jamaica, told from the point of view of island boys. Olshan, whose favorite children’s book author is C.S. Lewis, has also written numerous books for adults. He splits his time between Baltimore and his18th century farmhouse in Pennsylvania.
Olshan believes that the Noyes Library for Young Children is so important because “libraries are fundamental to the transmission of cultural wisdom—not to mention essential to a healthy democracy. There’s no substitute for the camaraderie and warmth of, say, a story circle. I think that isolation, both cultural and intellectual, will be one of the great scourges of our digital future. Libraries are an antidote to that.”
Read more about Olshan at http://www.matthewolshan.com/. Check out his books at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the March / April 2020 Make MORE Noyes Community Update.
Patricia Valdez is the author of Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles, illustrated by Felicita Sala. She was inspired to write this book when she visited the Komodo dragon at the National Zoo with her family. After doing research on Komodo dragons, Valdez discovered that Joan Beauchamp Procter was the first person to describe them in the 1920s. Procter designed the reptile house at the London Zoo, which still exists today. She also pioneered new techniques in the medical care of reptiles.
Valdez works at the National Institutes of Health. Her current writing projects include a picture book about the discovery of ripples in space-time, and a middle grade story.
Growing up in Texas, Valdez loved reading and making tiny books. Her favorite childhood stories were Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber, Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion and all of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books.
When Valdez moved across the country to the Washington, DC area when her children were still in preschool, she was “so ecstatic to come across this gem of a library in our new neighborhood.” Adds Valdez, “The Noyes Library for Young Children offers children a place of their own, where they can explore and be transported to other worlds through books. The picture book collection is amazing and most certainly inspired me to start writing my own stories.”
Read more about Ms. Valdez HERE and check out her book Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the September/October 2019 Make MORE Noyes Community Update.
Meghan Cox Gurdon is the author of Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction, which shows how reading aloud provides an antidote to the fractured attention spans of today. The book includes practical tips and reading recommendations.
Ms. Gurdon writes a weekly column on children’s books for The Wall Street Journal. She grew up in rural and coastal Maine, attended Bowdoin College, and worked as a reporter abroad. She now lives in Bethesda with her husband and five children.
As a child, Ms. Gurdon would get into trouble for reading under her desk instead of paying attention in school, and tried to work her way through the school library from A to Z. Her favorite children’s books are Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig, and The Iliad and The Odyssey as retold by Gillian Cross.
Ms. Gurdon describes the Noyes Library for Young Children as “an enchanting, magical space for children to hear stories read aloud. In a world half-mad with electronic distractions and screen-based ephemera, more than ever children need this serenity and enrichment, this experience of pure delight.”
Read more about Ms. Gurdon HERE and check out her book Enchanted Hour at Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the June-July 2019 Make MORE Noyes Community Update
This Is Not a Normal Animal Book, illustrated by Brian Biggs, is Julie Segal-Walter’s first picture book. It was inspired by the Yiddish proverb “If the cat laid an egg, it would be a hen.”
Before writing for children, Segal-Walters was the president and founder of Civic Action Strategies, a grassroots consulting firm. She was also a lawyer and a Congressional lobbyist for civil rights and civil liberties. She began writing for children when her son was young.
As a kid, her favorite picture book was Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn, and her favorite novel was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son and a cat named Lego.
Segal-Walters feels that the Noyes Library for Young Children is so important because “it is one of the few U.S. libraries dedicated to children. Further, picture books are often a child’s first window into the experiences and emotions of others. Our world could use more places like Noyes, where children are surrounded by books that build empathy, tolerance, and understanding.”
Read more about Ms. Segal-Walters at http://juliesegalwalters.com/ . Check out her book at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the April-May 2019 Make MORE Noyes Community Update
Growing up in Philadelphia, I was a HUGE reader and loved bringing home stacks of books from the library. I graduated from Cornell University in English and became a science writer for public audiences, covering all different areas of STEM. I wrote my first children’s book when my daughter was born, because I wanted to tell her wonderful stories about the world she would be discovering as she grew up. She and her younger brother have since inspired me through many books, both fiction and nonfiction, about science and school and the environment and families and more. My books are read by children across the country and around the world, so I try to include universal aspects in each book, often about the natural world.
Charlotte’s Web is my all time favorite children’s book, because the character of Charlotte is a writer like I am. She thinks a long time before she starts, she works when everyone else is asleep, she does research and chooses her words carefully, she checks her spelling, she shows off her writing in the best light possible, and she understands that words are powerful and can change lives. I am also a lifelong Dr. Seuss fan, and his playful rhythms, play with words, and subtle deep meaning have inspired and guided me in many of my books.
I will have a new children’s nonfiction book out in fall 2019, about scientists and their amazing work—including scientists who study the ocean, glaciers, volcanoes, dinosaurs, bats, pandas, and more. I love hearing from scientists about the challenges of their explorations, and how they became so fascinated with science that they made it their life career.
The Noyes Library, all public libraries, and books are critical to individuals and communities. They are part of people’s entire life span, and part of communities for even longer, as sources of reading, learning, exploring, networking, growing, and giving back in countless ways. My life and career and would not be what they are without libraries. I have volunteered and worked in libraries, met my husband when he worked for the Library of Congress, and started taking my kids with me to the local library even when they were babies. When people ask me how to get kids to read more, I say get them a library card and take them to the library as often as possible!
By Beth Meyer for the November-December 2018 Make MORE Noyes Community Update
Megan Wagner Lloyd is the author of two picture books for children - Finding Wild and Fort-Building Time, both illustrated by Abigail Halpin.
Ms. Lloyd grew up on the east and west coasts and moved from California to the D.C. area three years ago. Ever since the first grade, she knew that she wanted to be a children’s writer.
Her favorite books from her childhood were the Brambly Hedge stories by Jill Barklem; The Jolly Postman and Each Peach Pear Plum, both by Janet and Allan Ahlberg; and Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett.
Her next picture book, Building Books, illustrated by Brianne Farley, will be released in October 2018. It is the story of two siblings who argue over which activity is best - building or reading. The story emphasizes the importance of finding that one special book to draw in reluctant readers.
She believes that the Noyes Children’s Library is so important because “early literacy builds a foundation for a lifelong love of reading—but even more importantly, it’s an incredibly fun and memorable bonding experience between children and their caregivers.” Adds Wagner Lloyd, “Reading is the best—it’s as good for you as vegetables, but it’s as delicious as dessert!”
Read more about Ms. Lloyd at https://meganwagnerlloyd.com. Check out her books at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the May-June 2018 Make MORE Noyes Community Update
Brian Floca is the author/illustrator and illustrator of numerous award-winning books for children. These include Locomotive, winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal, Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, Lightship, and The Racecar Alphabet.
Brian has illustrated Avi's Poppy Stories series; Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan's Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring; Lynne Cox's Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas; and the recently published Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz.
In addition to the Caldecott Medal, Brian's books have received four Robert F. Sibert Honor awards, a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, and have twice been selected for the New York Times' annual 10 Best Illustrated Books list.
Brian is excited to be one of the two Honorary Chairpersons for the Read! Dream! Fly! Make MORE Noyes Gala, to be held on April 14, 2018. Read more about Brian Floca HERE!
Juana Medina is the author and illustrator of Juana & Lucas; 1 Big Salad, A Delicious Counting Book and ABC Pasta, An Entertaining Alphabet, as well as the illustrator of Doreen Cronin’s Smick. Juana and Lucas is about a girl’s experience learning English. A sequel to Juana and Lucas and a new concept book called Sweet Shapes are in the works.
Ms. Medina grew up in Bogota, Columbia, in the Andes Mountains. As a child, she got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. She went to the Corcoran School of Art and Design and the Rhode Island School of Design. Currently, she teaches animation at George Washington University. She resides in Van Ness.
Her favorite children’s books are Nicholas by Goschinny & Sempé and Me and My Sister Clara, by Dimiter Inkiow. She also likes the picture books of Dick Bruna, best known for Miffy the bunny.
Ms. Medina believes that the Noyes Library for Children is so important because " Early literacy plays an essential role not only encouraging children to read, but offering an invaluable chance to discover other worlds and find themselves. Through stories, children develop curiousity and empathy. Places as unique as the Noyes Library also offer an important space, where young readers and their families can feel very much at home while reading. Developing strong bonds, as they get together to participate in activities, surrounded by a fabulous collection of books housed in this beloved one-room library.
Read more about Ms. Medina at http://www.juanamedina.com/. Check out her books at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer
Henry Cole has illustrated over 50 picture books and written – and illustrated – four of his own. His newest work is Spot, the Cat, a black and white, wordless picture book about a cat's journey through a city. Cole has most often collaborated with author Pamela Edwards Duncan. He has also illustrated books for Julie Andrews (the Little Bo books) and Harvey Fierstein (The Sissy Duckling). Among his other well-known titles are Moosetache and Moostletoe and And Tango Makes Three, as well as the award-winning Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad, which Cole wrote and illustrated.
Mr. Cole grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia and enjoyed creating birthday cards for friends. He worked for over 17 years as a math and science teacher at an elementary school before he became an illustrator. Artists Norman Rockwell, Paul Klee, John Singer Sargent, and N.C. Wyeth have inspired him. His favorite children's books are Charlotte's Web by E. B. White and Who Really Killed Cock Robin? by Jean Craighead George. He lives in Old Town Alexandria.
Mr. Cole believes that the Noyes Library for Children is so important because "kids who enjoy reading and understand the importance of the written word are at an advantage both professionally and personally, all through their lives.”
Read more about Mr. Cole at http://www.henrycole.net/. Check out his books at the Noyes Library for Young Children and other Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the January / February 2017 issue of the Make.MORE.Noyes Community Update
The coming elections provide a good opportunity to teach your children how the government works. North Potomac author Syl Sobel specializes in these kinds of books. He has written Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts, How the U.S. Government Works and four other books about politics.
Sobel recently retired after working for over 30 years as the Director of Publications at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, DC. When his older daughter was in first grade, she asked him to write a book explaining how the government works. Then, his younger daughter asked him to write another book about the presidents.
Four more books followed: The U.S. Constitution and You, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and Our Pledge of Allegiance. Sobel also has a blog called "Civics & Civility."
Growing up, Dr. Seuss was Sobel’s favorite children's book author. At an early age, he read books about U.S. History, especially World War II since his father was a WWII veteran. He also enjoyed biographies about the Founding Fathers.
Syl Sobel feels that the Noyes Library for Young Children is so important because "A child can go anywhere and learn about anything by reading. And reading improves writing." Read more about Sobel on his website http://www.sylsobel.com/. Check out his books at Montgomery County Public Libraries.
By Beth Meyer for the November/December issue of the Make.More.Noyes Community Update
(getting to know our local authors and illustrators)