New Welty Exhibit to open April 10th

Children’s literature will be the focus of an exhibit and story series at the Eudora Welty House this spring. “Welty constantly went back to her love of reading in her childhood and how that led her to be a writer,” said Meemie Jackson, director of education at the Eudora Welty House. “That joy of reading is the springboard for our upcoming programs.”

Welty wrote one children’s book, The Shoe Bird, which will be the focus of a new exhibit opening April 10 at the Eudora Welty House Education and Visitors Center. The exhibit examines two interpretations of the book: a 1968 Jackson Ballet Guild performance and a musical adaptation written by composer Samuel Jones and performed by the Mississippi Boychoir.

Composed by acclaimed Broadway musical director and Jackson native Lehman Engel, the ballet was intended to promote Mississippi talent. Artifacts will include original watercolor drawings of the owl, quail, and other costumes by designer Theo Inman, the colorful vest worn by Arturo the parrot, and a letter from Engel to Welty discussing the ballet. The drawings will be paired with photographs of dancers in the costumes.

In 2002 the Mississippi Boychoir commissioned Samuel Jones, a Mississippi native and Seattle Symphony composer-in-residence, to create a musical version of The Shoe Bird. Jones’s innovative adaptation is often compared to Peter and the Wolf. The exhibit will feature the original narrator’s score, which was first performed by Lester Senter, and the musical composition.

On Tuesday, April 17, there will be an open house for the Shoe Bird exhibit at 4 p.m. in conjunction with a special event at Belhaven University. At 5:30 p.m. in Barber Auditorium, award-winning illustrator and Jackson native Scott Cook will present “Books and the Process of Creating Art,” featuring sculptures and original paintings he has made for children’s books. The event is free and open to the public.

In May the Eudora Welty House Museum, the Brandon Public Library, and the Eudora Welty branch of the Jackson Public Library will partner to inspire and entertain young readers with the second annual “Storytime on the Side Porch” at the Welty House. The series begins May 23 and runs through June 27. Each Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., children entering grades K–3 and their parents will listen to a classic story then make a related craft. “Storytime on the Side Porch” is free of charge; call 601-353-7762 to reserve a spot.

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