Last year, Orange County resident and UNC alumnus William McLean started writing letters to some of the illustrators of children's books favored by his now 3-year-old daughter Cora Grace.
What started as a small idea turned into an exhibit containing almost 100 pieces of artwork from renowned illustrators, including Marc Brown, creator of the "Arthur" series; Robin Preiss Glasser, illustrator of the "Fancy Nancy" series; and Eric Carle, creator of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."
With a mix of donated and purchased pieces, the Cora Grace Collection of Picture Book Art opened at the Orange County Public Library in September and will remain open through December.
Cora Grace was born during the height of the pandemic, so her access to outside life was limited. Picture books and this collection gave McLean a chance to introduce his daughter to the world and show her the importance of reading.
“Early on, we were, first and foremost, trying to show her that reading is something that we value," McLean said. "I think for kids, having a tangible connection to your favorite book is kind of exciting.”
Both the McLeans and the Orange County Public Library were enthusiastic about displaying art for the community, and McLean said it was the right setting to host the collection.
“The show itself is kind of a celebration of libraries and what a special thing they are in the communities,” he said.
The collection is also doing a small fundraiser to help the library increase programming and furnishings to be accessible and comfortable for neurodivergent children, McLean said.
While the exhibit focuses on illustrations from children's books, there is no age limit to who can enjoy it.