Reading into History: An Illustrator at Work and Our First Anniversary!


This past Sunday, May 19th, the DCHM Reading into History family book club discussed the graphic novel/biography Around the World and got to meet its wonderful author and illustrator, Matt Phelan. We were especially lucky because Matt brought his sketchbooks that he kept while planning the book. He taught us so much about how he creates emotions in readers through images. He draws small panels when he wants readers to go through them quickly and imagine action moving fast. He draws larger panels when he wants readers to linger on an idea, feeling, or action. Matt even did an illustration demonstration for us! Take a look!

stevens illustration

This is Thomas Stevens. As you can see from Matt’s writing, Stevens was the first man to travel around the world by bicycle. He rode 13,500 miles! You can read Stevens’ story in Around the World.  Our group also got to visit the DCHM gallery and see the Nellie Bly board game made in 1890, which she designed herself. Check it out! It was a really great afternoon.

Nellie board game_2000_448
Collection of the New-York Historical Society

Now we are already gearing up for June!  On June 19th, we will meet for a wrap event that marks our first anniversary! Can you believe it’s been a year already? June 19th is also an important African-American holiday called Juneteenth, so there will be a lot to celebrate at the wrap. There will even be special snacks!

Our June book is Home is With Our Family by Joyce Hansen. This book follows Maria Peters, an African-American girl living in New York’s Seneca Village in the 1850s. Maria is about to turn thirteen and she has a lot to worry about. Rumors abound that her neighborhood is going to be destroyed so the city can build a “Central Park,” and Maria’s new friend and neighbor Anna has a secret that could endanger the whole Peters family. Hansen paints a rich portrait of African American life in one of New York’s forgotten communities of free blacks.  At the event, we will do something totally new: we will take a walk outside in what was once Seneca Village. Remains of the neighborhood can be found right inside the west 85th street foot entrance to the park…if you know where to look. And we do!

home is with our family

A note for all those planning to attend summer book wraps:  make sure you check out the family programs calendar! June, July, and August wraps all meet on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. We will go back to having Sunday wraps from 3 to 5 pm in October.  As always, email familyprograms@nyhistory.org if you have any questions. See you around the galleries!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *