Caldecott Honor recipient Elisha Cooper’s first book, Country Fair.
This last Wednesday my husband and I went to the Northwest Washington Fair. It’s not the fancy State Fair, but to my mind it’s the perfect size. It’s small enough to see everything without getting worn out, but big enough to have all the magic ingredients: amusement rides, 4-H kids and their animals (horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits), vintage cars on display, hand-sewn quilts, knitted mittens and hats, art work, instructional displays about bee hives, perfectly canned peaches and string beans, flowers and berries from local gardens, kids’s Lego collections, kettlecorn, BBQ everything, cotton candy, gyros, corn on the cob. The Whatcom County Dairy Women sell ice cream. At various small stages there are local clog dancers and magicians and musicians. In the grandstand area, rodeo events. Perfection.
I took some photos and will share them below. Five are of kids’ displays – from vegetable “critters,” to instructions about how to play marbles. And two are of the quilts my husband and I voted for to win the “Viewers’ Choice” ribbon.
During the pandemic, the Fair was cancelled. This is the first time the gates have been open since the summer of 2019, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It’s one of the highlights of my year (and I’ve written about it before here at BATT.) I feel like the county fair is my local Italian piazza or Mexican market – full of life, full of tastes, textures, smells, sounds, and sights that anchor me to a certain world. In this case it’s not a distant, exotic world but a sweet, familiar one.
If you’re a children’s writer or illustrator and you’re reading this post, consider going to you local country fair to see what kids are passionate about. You’ll find that they’re interested in everything under the sun. And if you’re interested in one of those things, too (soap, honey, Ferris Wheels, Hot Wheels, photographs of dog snouts, the hidden talents and/or fears of chickens) – well, there you go: you’ll have come up with your next book
Hope the rest of your summer brings many delights!
Those quilts are stunning, but the kids’ projects take the prize!
What a wonderful post!
If I’m not mistaken. You wrote an article called: “reading aloud” on the blog: Books Around The Table.
The very first art image that is shown is a mother reading to her children.
Do you know who painted it or the name of the piece?
I’m trying so hard to find that exact piece of art. Thank you so much for your inspiration!!
Konilee, the very first painting in the post you’re referring to is by Joe Duncan Gleason (1881-1959.) His signature is at the bottom right. Though he did cover portraits for popular magazines like Life, he was most famous for paintings of the sea and of ships. More famous for illustrations of mothers with children, often reading books, was Jessie Wilcox Smith, who was the artist of the second painting. I don’t know the actual title given to either one. Good luck with your hunt!
Thank you so much for your response!!