As I write this, I am in the gallery lobby of the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College, sipping Pinot Noir and snacking on the most delightful finger foods I have come across in a long time. Before this tiny feast, I joined a large crowd of art lovers and took a step back in time; amazed by the pieces and my genuine reaction to each one. I sit back and remember the first time I set eyes on it on some of my favorite children’s books.

Childhood classics Garth Williams. "The Picnic." Ink on Paper.

Childhood Classics: 100 Years of Children’s Book Illustration is...dare I say it...perfect. As a lover of children’s books, I may be a little biased, but as a lover of a good gallery show, it is wonderful. It is beautifully curated, well narrated through panels spaced between groups of art, and it is full of wonderment and nostalgia.

Childhood classics Arnold Lobel. "Whiskers & Rhymes." Watercolor.

I grew up in a family of bookworms. One Christmas, my husband looks over and said, “ I’ve never seen so many books given at Christmas.” My love for stories started with my love of illustration. Before I was able to read, I was able to see and receive each image, message, and heart of a story.

Childhood classics Felicia Bond. "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". Colored Pens on Paper.

My favorite panel at the Childhood Classics exhibit read:

“What is Illustration? Illustration is defined by its content. It is artwork used to embellish and clarify the intent of the story.”

It goes on about how the illustrator chooses each page’s image as a representation of the text. They are the conductors of what would stick in our minds about every part of the story. Much like directors adapting a book to screen or lyrics to a music video, illustrators create how you receive the overall theme of the book and emotion behind it.

Childhood classics David Shannon. "No David!" Acrylic.

As I’m leaving the exhibit, I call my mother and tell her about the excitement I felt viewing each piece. She replies with excitement, “We should all go!” We should, and hopefully you will too!

For more information, visit the Mitchell Gallery online now!


Here's a full list of the exhibit's showings:

  1. Felicia Bond (b. 1954), Off On a Run, colored pens on paper from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” series by Laura Numeroff, 1985.
  2. Floyd Cooper, Into the Basket, Under the Moon (cover), oil illustration board from “Jump! From the Life of Michael Jordan,” 2004.
  3. Hilary Knight (b. 1926), Cover, watercolor on board, from “Beauty and the Beast” by Marie Leprince de Beaumont, translated by Richard Howard, 1963.
  4. Deborah Nourse Lattimore (b. 1949), Returning Home, watercolor and ink on paper from “The Prince and the Golden Axe,” 1988.
  5. Arnold Lobel (1933-1987), On the Balcony, watercolor on paper from “Whiskers & Rhymes,” 1985.
  6. Barry Moser (b. 1940), One Big Pull, watercolor on paper from “Jump on Over! The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and his Family” by Van Dyke Parks and Malcolm Jones (adapted from stories by Joel Chandler Harris), 1989.
  7. Richard Scarry (1919-1994), August is Time for Picnics, gouache on board, from “The Golden Calendar,” 1965.
  8. Seuss (1904-1991) The Cat in the Hat, crayon on paper, c. 1970.
  9. David Shannon (b. 1959), Cookie Jar, acrylic on board from “No, David!,” 1988.
  10. Rosemary Wells (b. 1943), Jenkins’ Class, watercolor and ink on paper from “Timothy Goes to School,” 1981.
  11. Garth Williams (1912-1996), The Picnic, ink on paper, from “Stuart Little” by E.B. White, 1945.
  12. Don Wood (b. 1945), Today We Lunch in the Tub, oil on board from “King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub” by Audrey Wood, 1985.
  13. Mark Teague,How do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms, from “How do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms,” Acrylic on paper.


Images courtesy of Darin Gilliam and The Mitchell Gallery