(im)possible dreams at Simmons

July 13, 2017

Illustrator David Hyde Costello and Lecturer Lauren Rizzuto Share Expectations of this Summer's Institute

Looking forward to the Children’s Literature Institute at the end of July? We are too! We’ve spoken to two speakers for this year’s Institute to get their thoughts on what the weekend promises.

David Hyde Costello, is writer and illustrator of picture books, including Little Pig Saves the Ship and I Can Help, and illustrator of A Crow of His Own, written by Megan Lambert. Costello created the artwork for the 2013 Institute. On July 28 he will moderate a discussion with author/illustrators Sydney Smith, Melissa Sweet, and Don Tate.

What are you most looking forward to at this Institute?

David: I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibition of Ekua Holmes's work in the gallery. Obviously, illustrators work in a medium of reproduced, printed material, but there's still nothing like seeing the originals. When I look at this image, I see in the silhouette of the figure with hair blowing in the wind something of the private, deeply personal space where one's own dreams and aspirations live.

I'm also looking forward to meeting this year's Simmons students, and seeing the people I know from past Institutes.

What are your thoughts on this year's theme, "(im)possible dreams"?

David: My first response to the theme is to see it as the beginning to a story—the compelling kind that starts with seemingly insurmountable challenges to the protagonist. It's an evocative phrase that can encompass a wide span of interpretations, and speaks particularly to stories for children, and unfettered creativity.

Tell us about the discussion you'll be moderating.

David: I'll be talking with Don Tate, Melissa Sweet, and Sydney Smith. Having been in the audience of various panel discussions, I notice one of the pitfalls is that they can become short individual interviews in quick succession. I would like this one to be a true discussion—a group conversation in which new thoughts and ideas can be spontaneously generated. We'll be talking about how the plot of pursuing an impossible dream is conveyed through images, and also about the dreams of the illustrators themselves in terms of what children's illustration can be at its full potential.

Lauren RizzutoLauren Rizzuto, Senior Instructor, has been an adjunct in the Children’s Literature program and will begin full-time this fall. Rizzuto will be leading a seminar at the Institute.

What are you looking forward at this Institute?

Lauren: I love the Institute. Going to the Summer Institute in 2009 was my first experience with the Simmons Children's Literature program. I wasn't a student yet, and I was still feeling anxious about moving to Boston and starting a graduate degree. But when the Institute started, I was struck by this feeling that I'd come home. Eight years later, I'm still here. 

This Institute's theme is "(Im)Possible Dreams." As you can probably tell by the elusive parentheses, the program blurs the lines between what is achievable, sustainable, and imaginable. It's no coincidence that our lineup responds to the need for diverse perspectives in children's and YA publishing. Most of all, I'm eager to listen: to what these artists have to say, to how their cultural identity may or may not have shaped their dreams, and to how these dreams, denied or recognized, may have in turn shaped their work. 

What makes the Simmons Institute unique?

Lauren: What makes the Simmons Institute special is its collegiate atmosphere. The writers and illustrators whom we've invited aren't simply celebrities; they're artists, and we take their work very seriously. I'm not going to say that there isn't a fair share of hero-worship going on (I mean, we do love these books), but we temper our enthusiasm by prioritizing the study of children's literature. We're here to learn from the work, as well as to honor individuals.