What do a hungry caterpillar, a tantrum-throwing pigeon and late night study sessions have in common?

My bookworm-y love of picture books colliding with my Alma mater in a brand new exhibition at McDaniel College.

“The exhibition focuses on the themes of cultural diversity and artistry,” said Robert Lemieux, associate professor of communication and cinema at McDaniel and exhibition curator.“Beyond Words: The Artistry of Illustrated Children’s Books,” a major exhibition highlighting illustrations from children’s picture books, premieres at the college this week. While it may be an imaginative magical journey back into to your childhood (or produce spontaneous warm fuzzy flashes of bedtime story snuggles with your kiddos), the collection is about more than child-friendly tales.

“The exhibition focuses on the themes of cultural diversity and artistry,” said Robert Lemieux, associate professor of communication and cinema at McDaniel and exhibition curator. “By emphasizing diversity, it allows us to highlight the broad appeal of children’s books. It is important for children to see themselves in these characters. Additionally, since many of the artists are Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honor recipients, artistry becomes an obvious focus [of the exhibition].”

Beyond Words: The Artistry of Illustrated Children’s Books Exhibit at McDaniel College - (cool) progeny

Chris Raschka: “Snuggling” from “A Ball for Daisy,” 11 x 11″

More than 35 pieces of original art by notable children’s book illustrators are featured, including winners of the Caldecott Medal and Honor Books. Among the artists are Marcia Brown, (“Puss in Boots”), Eric Carle (praying mantis as in “The Very Quiet Cricket”), Ezra Jack Keats (“The Snowy Day”), Tomie dePaola (“Strega Nona Takes a Vacation”), Jerry Pinkney (“More Tales of Uncle Remus”), Mo Willems (“Knuffle Bunny Too” and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book!”), David Wiesner (“Flotsam”), as well as 1999 McDaniel alumna Jessica Boehman (“Bedtime Stories”), and others. *See full list below.

You’ll find a collage of media in the collection, including watercolor, woodcut, charcoal, die cut, pen and ink, paper collage, tissue paper, acrylic and gouache.

Definitely add this FREE exhibit to your winter bucket list (I know we are!).

Beyond Words: The Artistry of Illustrated Children’s Books Exhibit at McDaniel College - (cool) progeny

Neil Waldman: “The Wind that Wanted to Rest” Cover, 11.5″ x 12.5″

It’s a unique opportunity to see such a rich collection of children’s storybook art right in our own backyard! After McDaniel, the collection heads to the Oddfellows Gallery, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to coincide with the annual Children’s Book Festival.

Where to see the collection…

The exhibition is FREE and open to the public, now through March 6, 2014. Special hours for Rice Gallery during the exhibition are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Saturday, noon – 5 p.m.

For more information about “Beyond Words: The Artistry of Illustrated Children’s Books,” call 410-857-2290. (Contact the Rice Gallery at 410-857-2595 to arrange school or group tours.) Visit www.mcdaniel.edu for more information about McDaniel College.