Skip Navigation

Children's Literature Festival

CLF 2017

Festival Website Updated

January 26, 2016

The Festival website has recently been updated. To learn even more about what we do to promote children’s literature at Keene State College, visit our new homepage.

CLF on New Hampshire Chronicle

March 18, 2014

Our Festival Gallery Collection was featured on WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle on March 18, 2014. I first saw the segment while in Ireland on March 22nd. I think they did a fantastic job of taking over four hours of film and condensing it to about a six minute segment!

Please view it and send the link to your friends and colleagues around the country and around the world. In this video, Lita Judge talks about the significance of our collection and donates a new piece from her book How Big Were Dinosaurs?

Brian Lies Tribute to the Festival Gallery Collection

December 17, 2013

I had the pleasure of being one of the speakers at the 2013 Children’s Literature Festival, and though I had heard about the Festival Gallery Collection before, I really wasn’t prepared to be as impressed by it as I was. It is a collection that grows on you. My first impression was a modest one – there’s a hallway, with art in frames. As I started to look, I recognized illustrations from famous children’s illustrators and authors. A lot of artwork, I thought. But as I continued down the hallway, my impression changed. It wasn’t a single hallway, after all. It was a maze of halls, each revealing more work from some of the best illustrators in children’s literature.

And then I started picking up on what sets this collection apart from other collections of children’s illustration I have seen – its interest in process, along with displaying finished pieces. Galleries I’ve visited before might hang art thematically, to show how different illustrators render something like water, night skies, etc. Or they’ll show a larger collection of a single illustrator’s art. But here, there are multi-piece displays showing the thinking of the illustrators – how a single piece began with sketches and carried through to the finished art. All of the supporting materials for a finished piece, laid out in front of you. This is something other collections either can’t or don’t show.

Understanding process is more educational than just seeing finished artwork. It creates a link to the illustrator, whether you’re a student, an educator or another professional illustrator. We come to understand why the finished piece is the best it can be, because of those choices spelled out in the array of images in front of us. Why did the illustrator select this particular perspective for the piece? How might it have looked had the illustrator made other choices? Seeing sketches with cross-outs and marginal notes creates a private dialogue with the illustrator, an intimate moment looking into his or her unguarded thoughts. It’s like going backstage in a theater to see the stagecraft – the various props and devices that create the magic of a theatrical experience – and rather than stealing from that magic, it enhances it. You come away understanding that pictures in children’s books aren’t merely instinctive jottings on paper, but the result of many trials, dead ends and changes, decisions every bit as serious and important as those made by writers for adult literature. And when you know how much goes into these pieces, you have a greater appreciation for that process, which you can then carry into your own work – again, as an educator, a student, or an illustration professional.

Likewise, the Festival Owl Project might at first glance seem like a pleasant vanity. Look – we’ve gotten lots of people [105 owls currently] to create owls! Yet as you start down the hallway in which they are hung and look at each owl, you notice how remarkably varied they are in tone, style and medium. Some are humorous, some fine art. Some are loose and spontaneous, while others are scientific in their fine details. By the time I came to the end of the hallway full of owls, I couldn’t help but feel an appreciation for the overall community of illustrators who make art for children’s books. Whereas the Collection focuses on individual pieces, the Festival Owl Project creates a sense of the rich variety of artists and personalities working in the field.