Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Edward Ardizzone - October 16

Happy Birthday Edward Ardizzone - October 16
(October 16, 1900 - November 8, 1979)

Occasionally, the activity that accompanies our author birthday celebration becomes an adventure. We began the week by reading Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone, a story of a young boy who desires to be a sailor then finds himself in a dire situation on a stormy sea. It was fitting that after reading this book that our celebration wouldn't go according to plan.

I learned of Edward Ardizzone, illustrator of over 170 books, while researching last week's birthday celebration for James Marshall.  Maurice Sendak referred to Ardizzone and Marshall in the same paragraph when he described some of the great picture book illustrators of all-time.  Sendak was also quoted describing Ardizzone's Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, originally published in 1936, as "The opening lines of the very first story were a droll Ishmael-like call to adventure that gave promise of wonderful things to come."

I previewed Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, Tim and Ginger, and Tim's Friend Towser before deciding to move forward with the birthday celebration with my children.  When I was halfway through Tim and Ginger, a story of Tim's heroic rescue of his friend Ginger who later returns the favor, I thought the S.S. William G. Mather Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. I was excited about the possibility of bringing the books to life by visiting a real steamship, somewhat like the steamer Tim stows away on in Brave Sea Captain.  After checking the website, I found the museum was still open in October, but only on the weekends.  A sense of adventure was racing through my body after reading the three suspenseful books and I decided that heading to the ship was a must for celebrating Edward Ardizzone's birthday.

I presented the next day's activity to my children while I was reading the Little Tim books to them the night before the drive to Cleveland -- they too were ready for an adventure.  First thing this morning, I checked the weather, worried about the possibility of rain, but it appeared the rain was going to hold off.  Unfortunately, my children and I were met with the sign below upon arriving at the museum with  packed lunches, our books, and a special treat.
Apparently, I should have been concerned about something other than the rain!
Thankfully, they weren't upset and we found a spot to read Tim's Friend Towser
The special treat I brought along was hot cocoa just like Little Tim had in two of the books, after he was rescued from the sea.
Hold on to your hat! It was so windy!
We were still able to see a few things that helped us understand the books better.  This is a picture of a lifeboat similar to the lifeboats used by the crew to escape the sinking steamer in the Brave Sea Captain.
We also found the Captain's office which reminded us of the Captain, from Tim's Friend Towser, who spent a lot of time in his cabin worrying about a dog on board his ship.
In the end, we made the most of the day.  This will be an adventure we will probably never forget.

UPDATE: In August 2012, we returned to the William G. Mather.  This time it was much nicer day to board the ship.

My kids were a little excited and ran up ahead without me!
A view of the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
The loading area was huge!
A view of Lake Erie.
Going below!
Checking out the control room. 
I am so glad we were able to get aboard the ship, but I will never forget that day last October.
1. Edward Ardizzone Homepage - with biography
2. Diary of a War Artist - Imperial War Museum
3. More Reading about Ardizzone - Altarpiece at Shrine of St. Jude, Lost Huck Finn Illustrations
4. S.S. William G. Mather Website


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