Today at the CUE conference in Palm Springs, I had the unique honor of meeting Peter H. Reynolds, an award winning author and illustrator of children’s books and creator of animation software for children. I waited in line for a long time to ask him to sign a copy of The Dot, one of his most popular books. When I got to the front of the line, I found out why I had waited so long. In addition to signing each book and writing a personal message, Peter took the time to include a unique illustration in each book he signed!
At a conference focused on technology and the latest in creative software, it was wonderful to see that the most popular items purchased today were children’s books written and illustrated by Peter Reynolds. In fact, the book that I originally wanted to purchase and have signed, Someday, had sold out on the first day of CUE! Those who have read Peter’s books know why they are so popular. Peter’s books leave an uplifting message in the hearts of readers, regardless of age. For example, The Dot is the first in a trilogy that teaches readers that we all have the ability to explore creative expression and our fullest human potential. As the book says, “Make your mark, and see where it takes you.”
As Peter Reynolds’ website and blog explain, his mission is “helping kids, especially the ‘off the path’ kids.” He says he was “one of them,” until he was caught drawing in class by a seventh grade teacher who saw his potential and encouraged him further (rather than reprimand him!) That experience began his exploration of comic art and animation. Many years later, Peter would start FableVision, a company focused on creating educational software and animation films. One of their main products, an animation software program called Animation-ish, is designed to have kids animating their drawings in a few short, simple steps! Students can design animations for movies, websites and greeting cards. I myself plan on playing with Animation-ish in the next few weeks and seeing if it might have a good place in our Jr. Adventures in Digital Art and Filmmaking class for kids ages 7-9.
As I wrap up a long day at CUE, where I talked to many people on a variety of topics, I have to say that meeting Peter Reynolds was the highlight of my day. And as I remember that long line that formed to meet him, it is clear that I was not the only adult lost in the wonderful world of children’s literature.