A girl is caught in a snowstorm. So is a wolf pup. A nearly wordless story of friendship and trust unfolds through the illustrations of Matthew Cordell in “Wolf in the Snow,” winner of the American Library Association’s 2018 Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book for children.
The book is one of more than 50 that Cordell has illustrated over his career, and one of the many reasons the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) invited him to exhibit his original artwork. His exhibition opens Oct. 13 on ArtWalk night, and the gallery will be open late, and admission is free.
The exhibition closes Dec. 30.
Molly Bellah, the NCCIL’s executive director, said she is excited to exhibit his inspiring art.
“His attention to detail is immaculate,” she said. “We are thrilled to share Matthew Cordell with Abilene this fall.”
Bellah traveled to his home to see his art in Gurnee, Illinois, where she introduced him to the NCCIL’s new curator, Sewon Kang, an archivist in New York at The Easton Foundation. Kang previously worked in the Drawings and Print Department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She also researched other areas of MoMA’s collection for new acquisitions, publications, and the reinstallation of the expanded museum. A graduate of Wesleyan University and a part-time master’s student at Hunter College, Kang has been retained by the NCCIL to curate the museum’s next four exhibitions.
“She is very impressive and has been really great to work with,” Bellah said. “We both enjoyed our time with Matt and can’t wait to see how this collaboration unfolds!”
Cordell has written and illustrated numerous picture books, including “Hello, Neighbor,” “The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers,” “Cornbread and Poppy” and “Wish.” In addition, Cordell has illustrated other works for children including poetry and novels. His work has been published around the world in many different languages, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Italian.
His books have been recognized as Best of the Year selections by the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Cordell lives in suburban Chicago with his wife, author, Julie Halpern, and their two children. The two collaborated on the book “Toby and the Snowflakes.” Cordell said he enjoyed his visit with Bellah and Kang and is looking forward to the Abilene exhibition.
“Couldn’t be happier with how things went,” he told Bellah. “…I came away feeling the work and show are in very capable hands.”
Cordell was born and raised in Greenville, S.C. Growing up, he loved to read Maurice Sendak, Richard Scarry, and Dr. Seuss. He also loved to draw. He studied art and graphic design at Winthrop University, and after college, he moved to Chicago to pursue his passion, a career in design and fine art. Meeting the many adults and children who have read his books over the years is one of the greatest pleasures of his career, Cordell said.
“It means so much to be invited into a school, a book festival, or a conference to share my love of reading, writing, and drawing with children, educators, and parents who, in turn, provide endless inspiration to me.”
Contributed by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature