The 2008 Highlights Highlights

Finally, a chance to revisit my neglected blog!
I recently got to go to the 2008 Highlights Illustrator’s Party in Pennsylvania. Highlights (the makers of the well-read magazines, and also owners of Boyd’s Mills Press) is a very unusual company that actually puts aside time each year to party with it’s illustrators. Yeeha!

We got lucky with 3 days of great weather:

The stretch of NY/Pennsylvania that we traveled through is beautiful. Unlike last year, there were no 4-hour traffic jams to bog down the trip, and we arrived without incident.
The Highlights folks have the party-throwing thing down to a science, so when we arrived, there was the first of many lovely buffets. We were able to stay in a cottage near everthing, and the next morning began with (yes!) more great food!

The illustrators spent the first half of the day doing illustrator stuff. We got to hear Leonard Marcus speak- he’s a children’s book historian, and author of a fabulous book I have (maybe you do, too) called “Golden Legacy”, all about the cultural and artistic impact of Golden Books. I’m anxious to find some of his other books now.
Then we got to check out each other’s portfolios.

I though the folks coming to this event would have all been east coasters, but I was wrong. Illustrators came from all over the country. Getting to connect the art with the names and faces was a real bonus. Luckily, this was made easier by our big, clear nametags!

While we were doing this, our families were off having a blast at a farm. Check out this beautiful place! Eric and the kids had a great time. The kids were glad to meet other kids who like art (I guess this doesn’t really happen as much as they’d like here at home).

They got to paint and decorate pumpkins:

Beat each other with noodles:

Listen to fiddlin’ kids:

And roast marshmallows:

Later that afternoon, the big event…we all met at the main Highlights building in Honesdale for a costume party! This year’s theme was “The Enchanted Forest”. Needless to say, illustrators are pretty good at coming up with costumes…and so are the Highlights staff.

The entire building is decorated, inside and out. It must take weeks of planning to do this; it’s refreshing to think that it is allowed and encouraged within the company.

I love these mossy tree people.

Inside, the kids got to go on a Timbertoes scavenger hunt with stickers hidden all around the building.

More food…awesomely themed.

Leprechauns! Cloaked Art Directors! Fungi! Dragonlike Photographers!

Fairies! Keebler Elves! Unicorns!

Unbearably Cute Ewoks! Teeny Tinys!

The one and only Joan of Art, hailing from the Columbus, OH office.

Look- it’s a portrait of pure evil!

Wait a minute… it’s Judy Moffatt (who’s not evil at all, really).

Eric and I were apple trees…I guess you can say we didn’t think too hard about this, since we pretty much live in an apple orchard. It was a logical choice.

What’s that? It’s the BloomMobile! This is the Highlights company car (I presume) decorated in the manner of Suzanne Bloom’s adorable Splendid Friend books.

Good times. It’s very fun to see such universal participation in something like this.
Later that day it was time for a lamb roast, (with intro by Christine Clark…)

Can you see the ultra cool, gigantic mural behind her, too? Awesome.
Here’s a closer view:

Then, of course, there was a post-dinner hoedown!
Silly me, I thought the hoedown was part of last year’s “ranch” theme.
It’s not, it’s just hoedowning for hoedowning’s sake!

The next morning was another farewell buffet.
We met so many great people over the weekend…here are two of them:

It’s Phyllis and Brad Harris, all the way from Missouri!
There were cheesy potatoes available this morning in the buffet that were TO DIE FOR.
I need this recipe (let’s put it in High Five- ha!)

Then after a swing:

and a horse-drawn hay ride:

We headed back home.
It was another great driving day.
This road cracked us up…it follows (EXACTLY) the contour of the ledge butting up against the Delaware river. It was like a rollercoaster. Best not to take your eyes off the road here!

Along the river we saw these:

We refer to them as “those things in the water.”
Does anyone know what these things are??

Thanks to everyone at Highlights for such a fun weekend. It’s a real treat to hang out with people who love children’s illustration and writing. Hello to all the new and old friends we met there- and for those of you who couldn’t get there this year, hope to see you next fall!

6 comments on “The 2008 Highlights Highlights

  • on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 8:06 pm, Mary Beth said:

    A party isn’t a party until there’s a good noodle beating.

  • on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 8:15 pm, Liz said:

    I’ll remember that the next time YOU have a party!

  • on Wednesday, October 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm, Audrey said:

    Cool! I think the “thing in the water” is the Loch Ness Monster.

  • on Monday, October 27, 2008 at 7:47 pm, Amy said:

    What fun, I LOVE the inspired apple tree costumes.

  • on Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 4:50 pm, Caroline said:

    WOW! That looks like quite a fun weekend! They really know how to throw a party, and everyone got so into it!

    Jo definitely loves her purple dino dude haha she’s always carrying it around. I’m going to RI for Uncle David’s retirement party, hope to see you there!

  • on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 9:50 am, judith moffatt said:

    It was great seeing you again at the Highlights Party!
    The pictures you took were just lovely, they give a great overall feel of the weekend.
    Nice blog. I’m trying to keep up with mine again.

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