Tag Archives: magic

Summer School, Part 1: Hollins University

I’d like to introduce you all to one of my favorite places: my graduate school, Hollins University, located in Roanoke, VA.

This is my third year attending Hollins during their summer term, pursuing an MFA in Children’s Literature. This is also my first year as a student in the Children’s Book Illustration certificate program. After this year, I’ll have two more summers left to complete my coursework.

We just finished week five of the six week term. It has been one of the busiest summers of my life, but I have learned an incredible amount in this short time. The next couple posts will give you a peek at what I’ve been doing in my classes.

The Hollins campus is stunningly beautiful. I like to tell people that it’s magical place here in the summertime, and hopefully you’ll be able to see why. Let me show you around:


The campus apartments (ok, so this isn’t so beautiful, but it’s home sweet home while I’m here).


Carvin Creek, which I cross every day on my way to the main campus from my apartment.

My first year here, there were some muskrats that lived in the bank of the creek. I had just reread The Wind in the Willows, so I was calling them water rats in my head, and spent a lot of time watching them. They’re mesmerizing swimmers. I’ve been on the lookout for them this year, but no sightings so far!


The Visual Arts Center (VAC), where I’ve been spending anywhere from 6-12 hours a day, working hard! This building also houses the school’s art museum, which is currently showing an exhibit of Clement Hurd’s illustrations for the bedtime classic Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown.



A glimpse of the studio space in the VAC.


The creative writing building, Swannanoa.


My favorite library!


The library, the chapel, the mountains.


The quad.




And some of the great details around campus.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour! Up next: Picture Book Drawing Fundamentals, and Picture Book Media.

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A Little Backstory

Dear friend,

Have you ever tried to choose a blog name? If you have, you know how difficult it is to find one that hasn’t been taken. I went through many good and not-so-good (actually, really bad) ideas before I came up with My Name is Allison, and now I’d like to tell you a little bit about the name that stuck.

My inspiration was a book written by the lovely David Almond. I met Mr. Almond last summer while I was in England. His books are magical and inspiring, and I was so pleased to find that Mr. Almond matches his work in kindness and in generosity (one thing I learned this summer, while meeting a fair number of writers, was that this is not always the case!).


Here is Mr. Almond with me and my beautiful traveling companions from this summer.

The book is My Name is Mina, a recently published prequel to Mr. Almond’s first young adult novel, Skellig. Both books are completely wonderful, and you should read them (but read Skellig first!).



The beautiful books!

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of My Name is Mina:

My name is Mina and I love the night. Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep. It’s dark and silent in the house, but if I listen close, I hear the beat beat beat of my heart. I hear the creak and crack of the house. I hear my mum breathing gently in her sleep in the room next door.

I slip out of bed and sit at the table by the window. I tug the curtain open. There’s a full moon in the middle of the sky. It bathes the world in its silvery light. It shines on Falconer Road and on the houses and the streets beyond, and on the city roofs and spires and on the distant mountains and moors. It shines into the room and on to me.

….

There’s an empty notebook lying on the table in the moonlight. It’s been there for an age. I keep on saying that I’ll write a journal. So I’ll start right here, right now. I open the book and write the very first words:

MY NAME IS MINA
AND I LOVE THE NIGHT.

Then what shall I write? I can’t just write that this happened then this happened then this happened to boring infinitum. I’ll let my journal grow just like the mind does, just like a tree or a beast does, just like life does. Why should a book tell a tale in a dull straight line?

(I can still hear Mr. Almond’s voice in my head, reading this passage to us.)

I hope that Mr. Almond wouldn’t mind my use of his title; I hope that my blog will live up to its inspiration. For me, this means sharing the light and love in the world. It means finding beauty and wonder, and it sometimes also means letting in the night. It means making the little details that turn ordinary life into something special.

Mina says, “BE BRAVE!” so this blog is my first tiny brave step towards these things which may seem intangible and idealistic, but which to me are very solid and real. These things are my promise to you, dear reader. I hope you will be inspired.

With love and light,

Allison

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The Island Come True

We built a little Wendy House, in a fit of Harvest-time inspiration.
All the Neverlanders were invited.


Tinkerbell came, and she was even nice to Wendy.
Everyone thought that the make-believe roses were just lovely.
There was a little bit of fairy dust and a lot of magic.


Wendy was very pleased with her little house.
Peter was very pleased with himself.
Hook was also in attendance, but he has taken up a new hobby and was too busy taking pictures to be in any.


Photos by Caleb Atkins.

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