Can I just say that I love my public library??!! The Fairfield Public Library hosted “More Than Words,” tonight featuring four local children’s book illustrators showcasing their framed artwork, books and the story behind their work. Hans Wilhelm was one of the featured ilustrators who also authors many of his books.
I had the delightful opportunity to meet Hans and his lovely wife, Judy Henderson who is a talented ceramicist when they were part of an artists’ studio tour for the public this past winter. I was able to visit their adjoining studios and see their art. As a matter of fact, I told Judy that I drink my morning coffee out of her cups!
Hans briefly talked about growing up in Germany after World War II and only having what he called “dreadful” children’s books to read. Through a friend he got his hands on some Disney magazines sent from the US and he fell in love with the warm colors, in contrast to the drab German children’s books, and loved to see Mickey Mouse. He saw Christmas wreaths that were “full of colors” whereas in Germany, wreaths were used for funerals! Obviously his exposure to these lively colorful magazines influenced his children’s art–filled with warm and inviting characters, freshly depicted in clear, heartwarming watercolor.
Hans clearly feels blessed to be able to go to “work” and loves what he does, He has a heart for those not quite so fortunate. He shared one of his websites with me, childrensbooksforever.com where teachers, parents and children can access his books for free. His hope is that children in third world countries, where they might only have one computer per school, can connect with his delightful world of books. Soon these online books will be available in many languages.
In closing, Hans, who has created more than 200 books, talked of his love of writing and illustrating books. “I can create a whole universe” which brings him joy. “The only reason I do books is to have fun.” Obviously his “fun” has a ripple affect and is influencing children all around the world.