This post is part of a series of videos by Maine-based children’s book authors and illustrators reading aloud. This week, we’re featuring Kevin Hawkes, illustrator of Library Lion. Doctors in Maine gave Library Lion to 5-year-olds back in 2010 as part of a Raising Readers’ anthology and again as an individual title in 2016. We’d like to extend a BIG congratulations to Kevin who just received the Maine Library Association‘s Katahdin Award for Lifetime Achievement. Read his acceptance remarks here!
This excerpt was taken from the Raising Readers Anthology: Five Stories for Maine Children.
When Kevin Hawkes was a kid, his father was in the military and his family had to move around a lot. One of the things Kevin could count on when he moved to a new town was that there would be a library and that on its shelves would be his favorite books. Finding those favorite books, he felt, was like knowing that you had your friends with you from the last place you lived.
When Kevin was asked as a grown-up illustrator to create pictures for Library Lion, he wanted the illustrations to be “visual comfort food, just as libraries were a comfort to me as a child.”
Some of Kevin’s book friends were James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and especially the Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks. Kevin’s mother would read these stories to him and his brothers at night. During the day, his father would tell stories about dragons and giants from the driver’s seat of their station wagon on one of their frequent car trips.
Those stories lead Kevin to draw and paint dragons, giants, musicians with crazy wigs, circus performers, dark jungles, and many, many other things for countless children’s picture books, chapter books, and book covers. When he is not illustrating, Kevin in gardening, biking, or going to the library with his wife and four sons on the lookout for a lion.
To experience Kevin’s serving of “visual comfort food,” visit our Facebook Read-Aloud Group by clicking here (or click on the image below) to see Kevin reading aloud this beloved book.