Grand Lake / book signing: Art and heart put into new childrens books
February 13, 2009
Two new books for children of all ages are set to be on shelves featuring local illustrator Lisa Tarr. A book signing event next Thursday offers a chance to meet the artist and author, Justin Matott.
The works are two chapter books Tarr, of Grand Lake, and Matott worked on together: “Go Ask Mom! Stories from the Upper Bunk” and “The World According to Gabe and Stories from the Lower Bunk” (due out in the next few months).
Matott met Tarr, a multi-media artist best known for her children’s book illustrations, after he did a presentation at her son’s school. Readers may recognize her playful images in several other Matott books.
She has been drawing since she “was able to hold a crayon,” professionally since graduation from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2004. A second homeowner in Grand County since 2000, she and best friend/husband Chris made a permanent move to the Three Lakes Area in the summer of 2007.
Seeing how proud their two children, Jason and Sydney, are of her, Tarr said, takes her breath away. She is “constantly inspired by my amazing children, their schoolmates their friends.”
Matott, she said, “is definitely an act not to miss for the local kiddos. … (He) is an amazing storyteller and he can make you laugh, adults and kids alike, until milk squirts out your nose. Yep, it happened more than once while working with this guy.”
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Tarr feels successful through her illustrations if she is able to bring the readers into the story.
“If they are able to experience the story and if the characters and environment come alive for them, then I’ve done my job,” she said.
Matott has penned 19 works, ranging from picture and chapter books to poetry. Many are fully illustrated, target grades three and up, and showcase a great sense of humor and adventure.
Best known for his “When I Was a Boy/Girl I Dreamed” books, Matott recalls writing his first “book” when he was around 9 years old. He was a rambunctious child and admits many bumps and bruises along the way, being a “very adventurous superhero.” He said his “head is one big scar” and that if he ever loses his hair, he will be “one tough-looking dude.”
Both his parents were English professors at Colorado State University and nourished his creative interests and sense of adventure. Tarr showed him her art and he said something about it spoke to him. Her drawings reminded him of a boy he was writing about who ended up being his main character in “Go Ask Mom!, Stories from the Upper Bunk.”
Tarr, he said, “put both her art and her heart into the book and that is a big part of why it is a visual success.”
Matott said he loves his visits to schools because it is an opportunity to meet his readers, “to entertain them and to have them entertain and educate me.” He hopes more than anything that people understand how important sharing stories and reading together is, “and more than anything in this time when there is so much bad news, I hope I can make them laugh.”