Bonnie ChristensenWILSON, N.C. – Children’s book author and illustrator Bonnie Christensen returns to the Barton College campus for a book signing and reception, celebrating her latest work “Django: World’s Greatest Jazz Guitarist.”

Sponsored by the Friends of Hackney Library, the event will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. in the library.  Light refreshments will be served. Copies of “Django” and Christensen’s other works will be available for purchase and signing at the event. The event is open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

“Django,” which debuted in September 2009, tells the story of Django Reinhardt. During his childhood, Django taught himself to play the guitar, and he began to make his living on the streets of Paris and in jazz clubs. As a teenager, he later suffered severe burns to his hands after a tragic fire and doctors thought the accident would put an end to his budding musical career. Through Django’s perseverance, he proved his doctors wrong and went on to one of the world’s most renowned jazz guitarists.

DjangoThe book has garnered early praise as a review in “Publishers Weekly” explained, “Richly expressive paint and ink illustrations portray the hard-earned successes of Django Reinhardt, whose childhood was spent traveling with his impoverished gypsy family, where music was a constant and illuminating presence…A sensuous tribute to an illustrious musician.” “School Library Journal” also lauded Christensen’s work, sharing that she “includes enough detail to give perspective, but it is her lush paintings that so effectively give life to the man’s effervescent charm and determined courage.” And, a starred review by “Booklist” included, “Christensen supports the inspirational story with rich, vibrant paintings that capture the texture and tone of the landscapes in Django’s life: burnt oranges and various shades of brown bring the Gypsy campfires to vivid life, while bright blues shimmering under the sharp yellows of stage footlights depict the electricity of the guitarist in performance.”

One of Christensen’s paintings from “Django” is currently on exhibit in a show at the Society of Illustrators in New York, to which Christensen has just been elected a member. She joins the ranks of that organization whose early members included Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Frederic Remington.

Christensen began her career working in New York theatre after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Communication from the University of Vermont. Her theatre work included Joe Papp’s Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, and others. Christensen eventually focused primarily on playwriting, and some of her plays were produced off-off-Broadway. During this time, she also worked for Screen Actors Guild and Paramount Pictures.

After studying wood engraving and attending classes at Parsons School of Design and Center for Book Arts, Christensen returned to Vermont to focus on wood engraving and was offered her first illustration work. As she explained her eventual emergence as a book author and illustrator, she shared, “Through a keen interest in printmaking and letterpress printing, I eventually hand-printed and bound a limited-edition book. Desire to see that book reach a wider audience eventually led me to trade publishers and initiated my career.” (Excerpt from “Something About the Author” vol. 110, p. 41)

She authored and illustrated her first book for children in 1994, an ABC book titled “An Edible Alphabet,” which received critical acclaim for its design and illustrations. Other books she has both written and illustrated include: “Rebus Riot” (1997), “Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People” (2001), “In My Grandmother’s House” (2003), “The Daring Nellie Bly” (2003), and the forthcoming “Fabulous: A Portrait of Andy Warhol” (2011). In addition, Christensen has illustrated others’ works, including award winners such as Stephen Krensky’s “Breaking Into Print” (1996), Craig Crist Evan’s “Moon Over Tennessee” (1999), Mary Pope Osborne’s “Pompeii, Lost and Found” (2006), and the forthcoming “Princess of Borscht” (2011) by Leda Schubert.

In addition to her books, Christensen has contributed to periodicals such as “Vermont Life,” “National Gardening,” and “Ladybug.”

She was a guest lecturer/artist-in-residence at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, in Venice, Italy, and served as adjunct professor of fine arts at St. Michaels College in Burlington, Vt. Christensen currently resides in Wilson.

For additional information about the upcoming book signing, contact Cynthia Collins, at 252-399-6503 or email: cecollins@barton.edu

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