“Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical” Returns to the Hollins Theatre Stage

Hollins Theatre is opening its 2015-16 season with a revival of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical. The show, which is intended for children of all ages, runs October 10 – 18.

Goodnight Moon is based on the beloved children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member of Hollins’ class of 1932. The classic story of a bunny who won’t go to sleep was first published in 1945 and went on to sell millions of copies around the world.  The musical adaptation by Chad Henry first appeared on the Hollins Theatre stage in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to bring the work of Hollins writers to the stage.

“When this tale was received with such tremendous enthusiasm, we decided to turn it into a Hollins tradition, with multiple productions over years to come,” said Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “It is our hope that each new crop of youngsters in the Roanoke Valley will bring their favorite grownups to Hollins Theatre for an experience they will long remember.”

Zulia estimated that about 4,000 school children, families, “and people of all conceivable demographics” saw Goodnight Moon during its 2011 run. “Add that number to what we hope will be thousands in the years to come, and it makes us mighty proud to play our part in this phenomenal math equation that illustrates how one author can affect the lives of so many.”

Zulia noted that there are currently over 14 million copies of Goodnight Moon in print in multiple languages around the globe. “Consider the number of times a single owner of a copy has urged a parent or loving adult to read and re-read the bedtime story aloud, and then multiply that by 14 million. Add to that the number of times the book has been opened by a child who can recite it from memory while gazing at Clement Hurd’s iconic illustrations, not to mention the number of children who reach for their favorite book as a reading primer over and over and over, and you can easily imagine a number that reaches far into the billions. That’s how often this simple little story has come alive in the world.”

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical will be presented on Hollins Theatre’s main stage on Saturday, October 10, at 11 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 17, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children, $10 for adults. Current Hollins students, faculty, and staff will receive one free ticket. For online ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre. Or, call the Hollins Theatre box office at (540) 362-6517 for more information.


Hollins Professor Wins Environmental Stewardship Book Honor

Children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, an associate professor at Hollins University, has received a Green Earth Book Award Honor for her work, A Bird on Water Street.

The Green Earth Book Award is the first environmental stewardship book award in the nation for children’s and young adult books. Over 80 winning and honor books have been recognized since 2005. Each year, an expert jury selects books that best convey the message of environmental stewardship in the categories of Picture Book, Children’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Nonfiction, and Young Adult Nonfiction.

“This book is ten years in the making and began when my husband and I moved to the North Georgia Mountains where the story takes place,” Dulemba wrote on her website. “We were invited to a town meeting where a scenic railway was being discussed. It was to be funded by one shipment of sulfuric acid per week from the then closed copper mine. Miners stood up like bent and gnarled trees in their flannel and denim, sharing heart-breaking stories of loss from the cancers believed to be caused by the mines. They made thinly veiled threats that the tracks would be sabotaged if plans moved forward. I sat in shock, wondering what I had stumbled into.

“The story chose me to write it that night. I did dozens of interviews with miners, families and residents of ‘The Red Hills’—a 50-square-mile area devoid of all vegetation from a century of poor copper mining practices. (Astronauts said they could see the devastation from the space shuttle.)

“Ten years later, the book is a testament to growing up in the moon-like, yet close-knit community in 1986, and the efforts toward reclamation which continue to this day. It’s a story of man’s impact on our environment, and hope for our future as better stewards of this Earth.”

Published by Little Pickle Press in the spring of 2014 and geared toward fourth through eighth graders, A Bird on Water Street has earned numerous other prestigious honors, including the 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia; the eLit 2014 Gold Medal in the Environment/Ecology/Nature category; and the Academics’ Choice Award.

At Hollins, Dulemba teaches picture book design in both the certificate in children’s book illustration program and the Master of Fine Arts program in children’s book writing and illustrating.

Hollins Establishes Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University is paying tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors by creating a literary award in her name.

Presented annually beginning in 2016, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature will recognize the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. Winners will be given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Award will be one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Amanda Cockrell, director of the children’s literature program at Hollins.

Children’s book publishers are invited to send four copies of each nominated book to the following address for consideration:

Margaret Wise Brown Prize
Graduate Program in Children’s Literature
8060 Quadrangle Lane
Hollins University
Roanoke, VA 24020

The deadline for submission for books published in 2016 is January 15, 2017. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, will review the nominations and choose a winner, which will be announced in May 2017.

Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

For more information about the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature, visit www.hollins.edu/mwb.

Two Prestigious “Best of” Lists for 2011 Feature Novel by Children’s Literature Program Director

whatwekeepThe director of Hollins University’s graduate program in children’s literature has received some impressive year-end recognition for her latest book.

Amanda Cockrell’s debut young-adult novel, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, has been acclaimed as one of the best books of the year for children by The Boston Globe, and has also been named to the Bulletin Blue Ribbons 2011 list from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

In selecting What We Keep for the Globe’s review of the year’s most notable writing for young people, author Liz Rosenberg writes, “Cockrell balances on the knife’s edge between comedy and tragedy. The depth and darkness of her themes makes an absorbing read for older young adults.”

Geared toward readers ages 12 and up, What We Keep is the story of 15-year-old Angie, who falls for a 19-year-old Afghanistan veteran suffering from both physical and emotional trauma. The novel was published by Flux in July 2011.

Along with directing the graduate program in children’s literature at Hollins, Cockrell is managing editor of The Hollins Critic, the university’s literary journal. A native of Ojai, California, she also earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hollins. Cockrell has published numerous essays, poems, and articles in addition to her novels The Legions of the Mist, The Moonshine Blade, The Deer Dancers trilogy, The Horse Catchers trilogy, and Pomegranate Seed. She has received fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

“Goodnight Moon” Among Library of Congress’ “Books that Shaped America”

goodnightmoonA classic children’s book by a Hollins-educated author has been named one of the 88 “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress.

Goodnight Moon by 1932 Hollins graduate Margaret Wise Brown is among the books ”reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage,” according to the Library. An exhibition showcasing the list is kicking off the Library’s multiyear “Celebration of the Book.”

Published in 1947, Goodnight Moon has become the quintessential bedtime story, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide (the book has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, and Hmong). The New York Public Library named Goodnight Moon one of its “Books of the Century” in 1996.

Hollins celebrated Brown’s life and work with a yearlong festival that began in June 2011. It included the Hollins Theatre’s production of the musical stage adaptation of Goodnight Moon and a performance of the classical lullaby based on the book by the Hollins University Concert Choir and the Valley Chamber Orchestra. Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring original illustrations from Goodnight Moon in its exhibition, “Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations,” which continues through September 15.

The Library of Congress’ ”Books That Shaped America” exhibition will be on view through September 29 in the Southwest Gallery, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This exhibition is made possible through the support of the National Book Festival Fund.

Hollins Launches Nation’s First Graduate Degree in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating

bear In the summer of 2014, Hollins University is introducing a graduate degree in children’s book writing and illustrating, the first such program of its kind in the country.

An addition to Hollins’ summer Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) programs in the study and writing of children’s literature, and the university’s Certificate in Children’s Book Illustration, the new M.F.A. will enable students who want to both write and illustrate children’s books to earn a master’s degree with concentrated training in both disciplines.

“This degree represents a marriage of courses offered through the M.F.A. in children’s literature and the illustration courses offered for the Certificate in Children’s Book Illustration,” explained Ruth Sanderson, program co-director. “The program will run concurrently and in collaboration with those courses.”

Sanderson, who has illustrated more than 80 published children’s books since 1975, added that students will be required to complete 60 credits over a period of four to five summers.

“The programs offer a uniquely diverse community including faculty drawn from the ranks of leading writers, artists and scholars from the field of children’s literature,” she said. “Visits from a nationally known writer-in-residence and an exceptional array of speakers are featured, and there will also be an opportunity to take part in the annual student-organized Francelia Butler Conference on Children’s Literature.”

In their final semester, students will receive a review of their portfolio and personal feedback from an art director in a major New York publishing house.

“Hollins is the first school to establish this much-needed degree for people who want to both write and illustrate children’s books,” Sanderson noted.

The inaugural summer term for the M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating will be held at Hollins starting June 23 and continuing through August 1, 2014. For more information, visit http://www.hollins.edu/grad/cbw/.

(Image above by Ashley Wolff, faculty member)

Children’s Literature Students Volunteer to Help Young Ethiopians “Eager for English”

EthiopianProjectStudents in Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature have shared their talents with an international partnership designed to help bring English fluency to children in the African nation of Ethiopia.

Facilitated by Peace Corps Ethiopia, the project’s student authors each wrote an age-appropriate creative short story about 500 words in length. The stories were illustrated by Ethiopian artists and published in various regions of the country to supplement English language instruction in grades four through eight.

Peace Corps Ethiopia’s Amanda Sutker came up with the idea of matching her fellow education volunteers in Ethiopia with talented writers in America to develop stories for classroom and community reading programs. “While most English teachers and learners in Ethiopia lack the fluency necessary for effective English communication, they generally share the same sentiment: ‘We’re eager to improve our English,’” she explains. “What’s lacking within the Ethiopian education system is learning tools to catalyze skill development.”

Sutker majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing at South Carolina’s Presbyterian College, and knew of many graduate programs specializing in children’s literature. To find the best one to approach for volunteer writers, she consulted her creative writing advisor, who suggested Hollins.

“I emailed Amanda [Cockrell, director of Hollins’ M.A. and M.F.A. programs in children’s literature] in December 2012 to see if Hollins would be interested in partnering with us,” she recalls, “and after that things blossomed.”

Cockrell contacted student writers in the children’s literature program to gauge their interest in volunteering for the project. More than 20 graduate students agreed to take part, including Adeana Lopez, who Cockrell subsequently nominated to coordinate the Hollins effort.

“The response didn’t surprise me at all because Hollins people are simply that way,” Lopez says, adding that when a second email request was sent to recruit three additional writers, 37 people responded the same day.

Once the goal of enlisting writers was met, the project’s next step was connecting the authors with the Peace Corps Ethiopia volunteers. They shared local information such as common names, crops, holidays, environmental landmarks, and unique cultural practices, which in turn enabled the writers to produce engaging and culturally relevant English literature unique to Ethiopian communities. Writing was completed in September 2013 and story illustration was wrapped up two months later. In February 2014, the stories were printed and the compilation was distributed to schools throughout the country.

“Because the illustrations and publishing were completed in Ethiopia, all cash flow for the project occurred locally,” Sutker notes. “There were four separate editions of the book, one for each region (Tigray, Amhara, Southern Nations, and Oromia) that participated in the project. Five hundred copies of each of the four editions, a total of 2,000 books, were printed. The books were then evenly distributed to more than 200 Peace Corps volunteers stationed around the country to share with local primary school libraries and community centers.”

“This was a fulfilling, worthwhile project, and a chance for our graduate students to explore some writing outside of what might be their normal range,” Lopez says. “Many of them are already teachers, which helped them, and they received the input they needed to write a good story that meets the needs of these

Children’s Literature Graduate Student Shares Inaugural Manchester Writing for Children Prize

Ashleigh Gill, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s literature at Hollins University, has been named co-winner of the first-ever Manchester Writing for Children Prize.

The competition was judged by poets Mandy Coe, Imtiaz Dharker, and Philip Gross. Entrants were asked to submit a portfolio of three to five poems for readers aged five to 12. The prize was presented at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival (MCBF), which was established by United Kingdom Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The festival took place June 26 – July 6 and is the only event of its kind in northwest England.

Gill, who hails from Hinton, West Virginia, will share the £2,000 first prize award with author Louise Greig.

“The 2014 Manchester Writing for Children Prize was the perfect way to celebrate existing and new poets writing for children,” explained Coe. “The prize is the first of its kind so our fingers were crossed…but from Australia to the USA and throughout the UK, poets confirmed how vital and inspiring they found this genre….

“This competition was a joy to judge and it was fascinating to encounter so many perceptions of what poetry for children can be. It feels as though a door has been thrown open and the world of children’s poetry just breathed in.”

On the MCBF’s blog page, Coe said that there were specific attributes she and her fellow judges were seeking in the poems they short-listed and commended in the competition. “There were lots of things that we were looking for: Humour, seriousness, sound (we read them all aloud to each other). We were looking for something fresh, something that said, ‘Read me – and read me again.’”

Gill flew to England for the special ceremony announcing the prize winners, and was “jubilant at the news” she had won, according to the blog.

“It’s just wonderful to be here, especially on what is my first time in this country, and to  be among so many wonderful, breath-taking, amazing, beautiful poets.”

Learn more here about the Manchester Writing for Children Prize.