William Joyce, favorite illustrator of children’s literature

The new year is proving to be a busy one! Three months into 2017 and I am trying to keep up with three jobs. Well, three employers, actually. I am hoping to get back into the classroom by way of a full-time teaching job, but in the meantime I am on the substitute teacher list for two local school districts. I am also teaching English to Chinese students (ages 5 to 12) in a virtual classroom that connects me to China for class in real time. Sharing more about this ESL venture is deserving of a post all its own, so stay tuned!
The purpose of THIS post is to share an incredible gift that was presented to me at Christmas. It was a gift that reminded me that the givers know me oh so well! My three grown children along with two inlawed children and three grandbabies got me and Juaquin tickets to see and spend an evening with William Joyce.Twenty years ago, while living in Abilene, Texas due to Juaquin’s Air Force commitment, I read about how the Mayor of Abilene was incredibly impressed that an author~illustrator of children’s books had set his latest title, a Christmas adventure, in Abilene, Texas. The book, Santa Calls, was an immediate hit with this west Texas town. It was an immediate hit with me because I had been following Bill Joyce’s work since the mid 80s.

That year (1993) following his discovery of Santa Calls, Mayor Gary McCaleb had an idea…a very BIG idea. Please take a moment to visit this ABOUT page where Mayor McCaleb shares “how this all happened” in a brief video along with an OUR HISTORY paragraph.
Mayor McCaleb’s idea was immediately embraced by many people in the community and the foundation for a dream was laid out. There was a declared “William Joyce Day” where Mr. Joyce agreed to come be a featured guest at a luncheon honoring…HIM. It was really a way of telling this unprepared author “Thank you for choosing our west Texas town to be the setting of your recent book!” That year, that luncheon and that willingness of Bill Joyce to trek to Abilene was the launch of a dream that would, indeed, come true. Fortunately for me, this luncheon landed on a day when our two oldest children were in school and our youngest was at Mother’s Day out for a few hours. A ticket to attend was also in my mommy-budget. Hooray!

In less than five years The National Center for Children’s Illustrators, The NCCIL (pronounced nickel), was the result of enough enthusiastic citizens willing to create a cradle for the illustrations of children’s literature to rest.

On January 20, 2017 Juaquin and I drove 2 hours to attend a dinner~talk with William Joyce. There were about 15 tables of 8 guest per table. The setting was in the heart of the NCCIL and we were surrounded by original works of William Joyce hanging on the walls.As dinner wound down, Bill Joyce joined former Mayor Gary McCaleb on a simple stage where two comfy chairs allowed two men turned friends to chat with each other while we watched, listened and learned about the NCCIL and about Mr. Joyce’s adventures in writing and illustrating over the past two decades. The entire evening was an absolute treat!I could go on and on here, but I will end the post with photos from the evening along with photos in and around the NCCIL. ABILENE truly is the storybook capital! I hope time allows you to learn more and maybe visit The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature.HAPPY READING and thanks again, my dear children, for this incredible gift!

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