“He’s doing this as a special favor to honor Remy’s artwork,” says Paula Ciberay, Youth Services Interim Manager for the Wilkinson Pubic Library, which is sponsoring not only the art show, but a special presentation by Selznick at the Sheridan Opera House on Friday at 5:30 p.m., where he will talk about his relationship with Charlip and read from his book Fortunately. Selznick will also speak about the upcoming Scorcese film Hugo, and show a clip from the movie, which is due out at Thanksgiving. Tickets for Friday’s presentation (which were free) are already sold out, but the library will live stream the event in its program room, as will the communities of Loveland, Mancos and Granby.
Selznick splits his time between Brooklyn, New York and La Jolla, Calif., and had a hand illustrating more than 20 books by other writers before he began creating his own books. His first children’s book was The Houdini Box, followed by two others before the wildly popular 544-page Hugo Cabret came about, the story of an orphaned boy who secretly lives in a Paris train station. His latest work, Wonderstruck, is a tome in its own right at 600-plus pages. Kids (its audience is ages 9 and up) may gawk at the size, but a large portion of both books is told visually, through Selznick’s detailed pencil drawings. Wonderstruck is actually two stories in one, tracing through words the story of a 12-year-old boy searching for his father in 1970s New York City, and through pictures, the story of a young girl from New Jersey, in 1927. Set partly at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, the stories eventually come together in the end.
According to School Library Journal’s Ken Setterington, “If you liked Hugo, odds are you’ll be bowled over by Wonderstruck – it’s that good. In fact, taken in tandem, these two titles have redefined the creative possibilities for novels and picture books.”
Selznick will sign both books, along with others, at the Wilkinson Library following his Friday presentation and again on Saturday at Between the Covers Bookstore starting at 1 p.m. But perhaps the highlight of the weekend will be Friday evening’s art opening at the Ah Haa School, where Remy Charlip’s original drawings will be on display, including art from his latest book, A Perfect Day, showing his entire process in creating the book – sketches, storyboards, and letters to his editor. Now in his 80s, the resident of San Francisco has written and illustrated 29 children’s books, but he is also a choreographer, and, in the 1960s, developed something called “air mail dances,” where he would send a set of drawings to a dancer for him and her to interpret. Friday evening’s opening will include an interpretation of his “chair dance” by local dancer Lyndia McGauhey. Attendees will then be invited to do their own interpretations of a chair dance, and have the option of being photographed in a large winged chair holding one of Charlip’s books.
According to Ciberay, the idea to bring Charlip’s work to Telluride came from Telluride-based children’s art and drama teacher Sally Davis, who is a personal friend of Charlip’s.
“Sally and Remy became fast friends because they’re such kindred souls,” says Ciberay.
And while Charlip is not well enough to come to Telluride, his benefactor Erika Bradfield is attending on his behalf.
“She’s bringing his artwork, and she’s the one who asked if Brian [Selznick] could come,” says Ciberay, who has fast become a fan of both Charlip’s and Selznick’s work. Of Charlip, she says, “He’s one of the most creative minds you’re ever going to come across. He’s really incredibly playful. There’s nobody like him, the man is a creative genius… He mentored Brian when he first started illustrating children’s books and they became really good friends.”
Of this weekend’s events, Ciberay says, “It was all built on this wonderful friendship. We are so lucky.”
To reserve a seat for Friday’s live streaming of Selznick’s presentation, contact the Wilkinson Library at 970/728-4519, ext. 23. Entrance to all Selznick/Charlip events is free. There is also a soft opening of Charlip’s work at the Ah Haa School on Thursday, Oct. 6, during Art Walk, 5-8 p.m. And a special Charlip-inspired edible art program is scheduled for Kids’ Walk, 4-6 p.m. at the Wilkinson Library, based on Charlip’s book Peanut Butter Party.