Last night as part of my mission to Start Getting Out More and its sister effort to Do Stuff Other Than Work And Parent, I went to the Ledding Cultural Forum at the Ledding Library of Milwaukie to see Carson Ellis speak about her life as an illustrator and especially her most recently published book, Home. The reading/talk was at 7pm in the Ledding Library Pond House, a lovely little building across the duck pond from the modernist library building itself. I should mention that I have a particular affinity for the Ledding Library, as it was my childhood library. I read my way through the entire folklore shelf in their excellent children’s library before we moved away from Milwaukie when I was 9. I have what are for me unusually vivid, visceral, happy childhood memories of visiting this library, and my passionate love for libraries took root at the Ledding. So I love this library really a lot. Really.

A terrible photo of Carson Ellis
A terrible photo of Carson Ellis

Carson Ellis has a charming presence, seems quite comfortable speaking in public, and kept reminding me of Joni Mitchell in her striking and unconventional loveliness. She spoke about her childhood, her education as an artist, and how becoming the illustrator for The Decemberists (she’s married to Colin Meloy) helped her develop her technique. She’s a noted illustrator for children’s books, like The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, and Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide. She and Colin are renowned for their Wildwood series, for which she produced over 250 illustrations. I enjoyed her talk, and I was too shy to snap any photos until she was surrounded by people getting their books signed. I was also too shy to get my book signed. But I had a lovely time at the reading and then also picking up some books for the kids at the library, and walking in downtown Milwaukie through the warm spring evening. The Ledding Cultural Forum is very cool — you should check it out if Milwaukie, OR is convenient to you.