Gardiner’s Got Talent: Writers And Illustrators Abound
By Jennifer Bruntil
From Issue 35: Summer 2017
I didn’t have to look too hard to find literary and artistic talent in Gardiner. Two Gardiner residents have just come out with children’s books. Victoria St. George (above, right) is the author and illustrator of The Rainbow Book and Barnyard Bandits, while Whitney Burns (below, right) has illustrated The Bear and the Hare by local author Sean McKenna.
A lifelong artist, Victoria St. George graduated from SUNY New Paltz with an art degree, planning to be an art therapist. But illustrating her own children’s book had always been “on her bucket list.” A mother of two, she often told stories to keep her sons busy on car rides, and started recording the stories in notebooks when one of her sons told her that they were funny and that she should write them down. Now she has lots of stories waiting to “jump out of her journals.”
Two of these stories, The Rainbow Book and Barnyard Bandits have been published. Barnyard Bandits is one of those funny stories about life on a farm, while The Rainbow Book discusses the wonder of rainbows and the science behind them.
St. George’s The Rainbow Book encourages children to “look at the beautiful world around you and appreciate it.” Both stories are accompanied by lovely illustrations, with teaching activities at the end of the book. After years as an educator, artist, and mother, St. George says, “Reading to the kids and seeing their excitement and reaction is the best part.”
Also a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, Whitney Burns has worked as a high-school art teacher for the past 14 years and is always looking for ways to incorporate her passion for art into her everyday life. She leads “paint and sip” classes locally, and works on her own art at home. The Bear and the Hare is her first published book. Burns said that she wrote and illustrated a book in college, but was too nervous to show it to publishers. So, when she had an opportunity to illustrate again, she jumped on it.
The meeting between Burns and author Sean McKenna happened quite randomly. She explained, “He was a friend of my sister’s, and mentioned that he was looking for an illustrator without having any idea that that’s what I do. It was a perfect coincidence!” McKenna gave Burns a few suggestions but ultimately left the illustrations up to her. The book is a story about friendship, showing that no matter who you are or where you come from, we all need friends to help and support us. When asked about her biggest take-away from the experience, Burns reports, “The most exciting part of the whole process is seeing my work come to life and getting to share it with all my friends and my family.” Look for Burns and McKenna’s next book, The Moose and the Goose, coming soon! You can pick up a copy of the books mentioned above at Inquiring Minds, Montgomery Book Exchange, eBay or on Amazon.com.