Skip to content

Celebrating Children’s Books at Gallery in the Grove

The illustrators take centre stage Cathy Dobson Here’s the lowdown on Gallery in the Grove’s latest show. It’s literally hung low down at eye-level.
Kirsten Kilner Holmes, co-chair of the CANSCAIP exhibition, holds a copy of Margaret Laurence’s The Olden Days Coat beside the original artwork for the book by Muriel Wood. Kilner Holmes has a personal connection to Wood and owns the artwork, which she is lending to the show. (Cathy Dobson)

The illustrators take centre stage

Cathy Dobson 

Here’s the lowdown on Gallery in the Grove’s latest show.

It’s literally hung low down at eye-level.

That’s to accommodate all the kids expected to attend the exhibition featuring 38 illustrations from some of Canada’s most beloved children’s books.

The entire show is hung about two feet lower than a regular show so everyone – no matter their height – can see the care and detail that went into their favourite picture book.

“I just love that we are able to display so many of the illustrations from books that we and our children grew up with,” says exhibition co-chair Kirsten Kilner Holmes. 

Most of the original artwork in this show is on loan from CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators & Performers), a not-for-profit that represents many of Canada’s cultural icons.

Barbara Reid, for instance, is well-known for her award winning picture books and her unique plasticine illustrations that have been published worldwide and earned her the Order of Canada. 

Toronto illustrator and author Barbara Reid’s work is on display. She was given the Order of Canada for her contributions to children’s literature. (Cathy Dobson photo)

Also on display is original artwork from Sarnia’s own Ron Broda, as well as the work of illustrators Sue Todd, Judith Graves, Ellie Arscott, Pheobe Gilman, Brenda Clark and many more. They are the illustrative genius behind books such as the Franklin series, The Wild Beast and Something From Nothing. Michael Martchenko’s original artwork is also on display. He is the illustrator for Robert Munsch’s classic children’s books starting with The Paper Bag Princess.

Michael Martchenko’s unmistakable work has accompanied countless Robert Munsch books. (Cathy Dobson photo)

The CANSCAIP show is unique and won’t appear anywhere else, said Kilner Holmes. The collection is augmented by illustrations from private collectors for the show. 

Ron Broda initially suggested the exhibition, she said. It was planned for 2020 to mark the gallery’s 40th year but the pandemic postponed it.

“This has been an incredible partnership with the county libraries, school boards and the Sarnia Book Keeper,” said Kilner Holmes. “Our hope is that people will visit Art in the Park (this Saturday Sept. 9 at Weir Park) and then the gallery to see the exhibition.”

The entire show is hung at about four feet so kids can enjoy it at eye-level. Here, library branch assistant Caroline Smyth admires some of the work. (Cathy Dobson photo)

In conjunction with the exhibition, a contest ran throughout the summer at local libraries and encouraged young artists to create their own book covers based on a favourite book. The winner will be announced this Friday and their work will be displayed with the professionals in the show.

Additionally, a series of virtual workshops is planned with some of the featured artists and will be offered to elementary school students across Sarnia-Lambton.

Each piece in the exhibition is accompanied by the actual book, which puts the original artwork into context. The Sarnia Book Keeper is selling several of these books in the gallery gift shop.

Pheobe Gilman’s book Something From Nothing is a fascinating study in detail. (Cathy Dobson photo)

CANSCAIP, The Art of Picturebooks, opens Saturday, Sept. 9 and runs until Saturday, Oct. 28.

Gallery in the Grove is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit gallery located on the second floor of the historic Faethorne House in Bright’s Grove.   

Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  For more information about this exhibition visit

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free