Abilene is the Official Storybook Capital of Texas Bringing Loved Characters to Life
Abilene has been named the official Storybook Capital of Texas by the 84th Texas Legislature. The west Texas town is home to such attractions and events as the National Center for
Children's Illustrated Literature, the Storybook Sculpture Project (thought to be the largest public collection of storybook sculptures in any city) and the annual Children's Art & Literacy Festival.
The designation is the first ever from the state of Texas. "Abilene is well known for its history and its frontier spirit, but it is also an enchanting family-friendly destination that brings storybooks and their
beloved characters to life," said Nanci Liles, executive director of the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau. It "speaks to the journey of the imagination that visitors young and young-at-heart can experience in Abilene."
The Storybook Sculpture Project
The heart of Abilene's revitalized downtown is home to 17 statues that celebrate children's literature, including six bronze statues of Dr. Seuss beloved characters.
Abilene is one of only a few cities in the U.S. to permanently exhibit these six iconic Dr. Seuss sculptures created by reknown artist Leo Rijn.
The first Dr. Seuss scuplture was the much loved Cat in the Hat. Installed in 2012 the rascal cat entertains two children on a rainy day with wild and naughty escapades. It is one of the best-selling
children's books of all time. Another popular statue is that of the Lorax from the book that chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.
Guardians of Childhood from William Joyce Book Series
The books of famous children's author William Joyce have inspired another series of sculptures. Joyce's Guardians of Childhood series imagines the origins of the icons of childhood -- The Man in the Moon, Santa Claus, the
Easter Bunny. In Joyce's book, the Man in the Moon character, also known as MiM, was the first Guardian of Childhood. He lives on the moon and using rocks and bright sand, creates a smiling face to make the children.
But he soon realizes that he needs help and so there are a series of books focused on the other Guardians of Childhood, and five other Guardian bronze sculptures:
Jack Frost, Toothiana, The Sandman, Santa Claus and E. Aster Bunnymund, also known as the Easter Bunny.
Steve Neves was commissioned to create five of the six Guardians of Childhood. The pivotal Man in the Moon, was created by artist Pedro Rivera, and is radically different from the others.
Instead of being cast in bronze, it is made of resin and is eight feet in diameter and sits upon a 15-foot pole, making the total piece 23 feet tall. It has the
ability to light up each night, as of course, it should.
"Childhood's Great Adventure" by Rick Jackson, celebrates the story of the Abilene children featured in the book Santa Calls by William Joyce.
The most recent additions to the project are two beloved characters created by Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator David Shannon. Steve
Neves, who created several of the Guardians of Childhood scuptures, also re-created the "Duck on a Bike" and little David from the "No, David!" book series playing with dog Fergus of "Good Boy, Fergus!"
Whimsical Dino Bob, a gentle green dinosaur created by Bob Wade was one of Abilene's original sculptures and not to be missed.
Storybook Sculpture Project brochure and walking map.
Center for Children's Illustrated Literature
The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) was founded in 1997 to honor the artwork of children's illustrators. It has since featured the works of award-winning children's books illustrators
and authors, like Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears authors Stan, Jan and Michael Berenstain, and David Shannon. In addition is has over 150 pieces of original illustrations.
Children's Art and Literacy Festival
Each June, the Children's Art & Literacy Festival rocks the town in a downtown-wide event features the nationally recognized children's illustrator exhibiting that summer at the NCCIL.
All readings, events, and crafts are based on the work of the illustrator. New sculptures are
dedicated during the Children's Art & Literacy Festival in June.
For further information on lodging, dining and activities in Abilene, please visit Abilene Visitors
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July 18th, 2015