Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Happy Birthday, Roxie Munro - September 5

Happy Birthday, Roxie Munro - September 5

"There's the BIG city!"

Oohs and ahhs can be heard from the back of the van. My family knows the fun will begin soon.

My wife and I started saying, "There's the BIG city," on day trips when my children were very young. "I see the Key Tower," is the response every time we get close to Cleveland, Ohio. The excitement is still the same as we enter the BIG city.  Even for my twelve-year-old daughter. I like that she still gets excited.

As we drove into Washington, D.C. on Saturday morning for the National Book Festival the Washington Monument alerted us that the fun was about to begin. A weekend filled with books, sightseeing, lots of walking and of course a family reading experience. One inspired by Roxie Munro's latest picture book, Masterpiece Mix.

Roxie Munro is the author and illustrator of over 40 nonfiction picture books including HATCH!, Market Maze, and Slithery Snakes. At an early age, Roxie loved art and her parents nurtured her love by encouraging her to paint, draw, sew and even make her own toys, holiday cards, and decorations (Miss Marple's Musings). She got her first taste of artist fame at the age of six when she won first prize in a contest and her drawing was published on the front page of the newspaper. (Melissa Northway Blog). However, she didn't realize she was called to be an artist until she took a drawing class during her second year at the University of Maryland.

She said, "I'll never forget the day when I became an artist -- October 20, 1964. I was drawing a figure, and when the professor came by, I realized my drawing was very good and I could do real art, not just high school stuff. Back in my dorm room I put my drawings up on the wall, and I remember saying to myself, If I can be an artist, I'll work hard. I'll give my whole life to it." (Simie Maryles Gallery).

After studying art for over seven years at many universities, she started her life as a freelance artist and has never looked back. In Washington, D.C. she did editorial illustration, made fine art, and worked as a courtroom artist. Then, after 10 years in D.C., she decided to explore work in New York City and sold her first cover illustration to The New Yorker in 1981. This prompted her to move to the BIG city where her children's picture book career would begin.

In an interview with Matthew Winner, Roxie talked about how selling The New Yorker covers got her thinking about entering the book publishing world, "One day I thought maybe I could do adult book jackets. I went to various publishers to drop off my portfolio...and at one point an editor said, We can't use you but I have a friend at Dutton Children's Books who maybe could use you." Roxie met with the editor at Dutton who told her to call if she ever had an idea for a book. Less than a week later she said, "I woke up at seven in the morning. My eyes were closed... I saw these red letters, The Inside-Outside Book of New York." (All the Wonders Podcast). This idea led to her first book, The Inside-Outside Book of New York City and it was named a The New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year in 1985. (Library Thing). The success of this book led to more Inside-Outside books for the cities of Washington D.C.Paris, and London.

The day after the National Book Festival we planned a full day in the BIG city. To begin we read The Inside-Outside Book of Washington, D.C. near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The first illustration in The Inside-Outside Book of Washington, D.C. is of the Washington Monument.  
My kids double-checked to make sure Roxie didn't forget any state names on her illustration of the Lincoln Memorial. 
Outside the Lincoln Memorial.
Inside the Lincoln Memorial.
Inside my son's sketchbook.
We were so excited to have Grandma with us in DC. At this point our legs weren't tired but this family reading experience was just getting started.
During her career, Roxie Munro has illustrated picture books of mazes and books with paper engineering. She has created interactive apps too! Her books are BIG on fun as she infuses game elements like seek-and-find into her illustrations. More often than not the BIG city is found in her illustrations too! Her latest book, Masterpiece Mix is no different and it inspired game-like fun in the BIG city for our family.
In Masterpiece Mix the artist asks, What should I paint? and she is inspired by 37 pieces of art from the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. to create a one-of-kind painting that is true to what she really loves.
I contacted Roxie Munro to verify her birthday was indeed September 5th. When she responded with a Yes, I told her our plans to celebrate her birthday by reading her new book together as a family in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. 
Roxie sent me this cool photo of her in the Rotunda of the West Building.
In the Rotunda, we read Masterpiece Mix by the fountain. After reading, I explained to my children that I visited the National Gallery's website and learned that 22 of the 37 pieces of art in the book could be found in the West Building. I asked, "Who is ready to go on a scavenger hunt? Do you think you will find the most?" 
My youngest daughter was the first to spot a sign showing Johannes Vermeer's Girl with the Red Hat. She said, "That is in the book!" Later, she would find the real painting, but we gave her credit for finding the first painting.
We found Claude Monet's The Japanese Footbridge.
It was hard to keep up with them when they saw a painting in another gallery.
We carried the book throughout the museum and a cheat sheet I made to help us find all the paintings. The National Gallery of Art's website told me which gallery each painting could be found.
His Vincent Van Gogh pose.
They worked together to figure out which pieces still needed to be found.
Photo op!
We didn't think this portrait by Gilbert Stuart was on view, and we were very excited when we found it!
In the back of Masterpiece Mix, Roxie wrote a few sentences about each piece of artwork. We read the description about each one.
"There's The White Girl."
My son told me that a poster of this painting by Judith Leyster hangs in his art room at school.
We found all the paintings on our list and we had so much fun working together to find them all. I think Grandma won the contest by finding five!
Here is our family photo from the National Book Festival. I loved this year's poster, Books Are...

Roxie, your books are...informative, fun for everyone, and perfect for a trip to the BIG city!
We hope you have a wonderful birthday!
1. Roxie Munro's Website
2. Audio Interview - All The Wonders Podcast Episode 381
3. Follow Roxie Munro - Facebook, Twitter
4. Roxie's Blog
5. Text Interviews - Holiday House: Masterpiece Mix (2017)Tara Lazar's Blog (2017)Princeton Library, Miss Marple's Musings, Great! Storybook, Jan Clifton Watford, Melissa Northway Blog
6. Videos - StoryMakers KidLit 2017 - Masterpiece MixStoryMakers KidLit TV 2014, Ready Set Draw: AMAZING MAZE, Ready.Set.Draw: Great Horned Owl
7. Non-Fiction Minute
8. Ink Think Tank

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