Each year Treehouse Children’s Museum offers three or four Artists in Residence experiences, introducing children and their parents to working professionals in the arts who share how they make their stories come to life on a page or on a stage.

Recently Treehouse hosted children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Wolff for a residency sponsored in part by Utah Humanities as part of their statewide Book Festival. During her residence Ashley visited lucky area schools and worked on an exhibit project at Treehouse you’ll be hearing more about in the coming months. Treehouse staff and Board also hosted a national book launch party for Ashley’s newest book, “Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear?” which was released on October 17. This is the third book in her very popular Baby Bear series. Ashley is also the illustrator of the wonderful Miss Bindergarten books and has written and illustrated many, many other award-winning titles. She’s been to Treehouse several times and her mural art adorns many exhibits at Treehouse.

The Book Launch Party was great fun with 275 guests, ice cream sandwiches from Baked Bear, the Black Bear Diner bear and give-aways, Locally Twisted Balloons, bear puppets, facepainting and more. The best part of the evening, though, was seeing how many families wanted to have the new book signed by Ashley and how many brought other books she’d written and illustrated to have her autograph.

It’s a powerful experience for a child to meet and talk to someone whose books or stories they know and love. Not only do they learn that “regular people” make books and tell tales, but they see the possibility open before them that they, too, could write or draw or perform for others if they work hard enough. Visits with artists like Ashley can be the spark that fires up a child’s creative engine and inspires them to become engaged in the arts. Even if they don’t become children’s book illustrators and authors themselves, that connection to someone like Ashley will ensure that they are fans and supporters of artists and the arts, that they have richness that stories and art can add to their lives, along with the encouragement to become life-long readers and lovers of stories.

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