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Words of Wonder

                                              By Katherine Hauswirth

                          hen asked how his local environs spark ideas for books, John Himmelman’s answer is simple:
                          “A lack of streetlights!” With more than 80 books to his credit, the Killingworth-based
                 Wauthor-illustrator is drawn to nocturnal creatures. Walks through his low-lit backyard and
                 nearby woods provide inspiration, including for “Wait Till it Gets Dark: A Kid’s Guide to Exploring the
                 Night,” which he illustrated. In the book, young readers encounter Great Horned Owls, bullfrogs, spi-
                 ders, and other critters. Working as a library page awoke his interest in children’s books. “I came across
                 some inspiring work like Arnold Lobel’s ‘Frog and Toad’ books,” he said. “They showed me how I could
                 combine both my love of making pictures and making up stories.”

                 For generations, Connecticut-based authors and illustrators have been inspiring kids’ interest in nature. Hugh
                 Lofting, who created Dr. Dolittle in the 1920s, lived and wrote in Killingworth, not far from Himmelman.
                 Harriet Beecher Stowe, who lived in Hartford, is recognized for her abolitionist writings but rarely her chil-
                 dren’s nature stories. Branford illustrator Jean Zallinger contributed to a host of nature-themed nonfiction
                 books for young readers. She used the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s collections to inform
                 her portrayals of creatures that proved challenging to study in their natural habitats.

                                                      "Ice Bear Mummy" by Karen Romano Young

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