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.
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(getting to know our local authors and illustrators)