Friday Favorite: Nancy Tillman

When pregnant with my first child, I started looking for art work to hang in a baby’s room. The stuff I found in stores seemed too cutesy, too overpriced, too stereotypical or uninspired. Then one day, being surrounded by an array of picture books at work, I decided that finding a book I loved and framing a few of my favorite pages was an affordable and creative option. I searched for warm, child-friendly illustrations depicting wonder, joy, magic and love. I browsed my favorite authors’ books for inspiration but nothing clicked until finally I stumbled upon the incredibly beautiful work of author/illustrator Nancy Tillman, who is a local Portland, Oregon gem. Her book “On the Night You Were Born” is a celebration of new life coming into the world:

“On the night you were born, the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered ‘Life will never be the same’ Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world”

The text is poetic. The illustrations are arresting and magical, with wide-eyed polar bears and birds; frogs, giraffes, and other creatures all welcoming the new baby with dance and music (“when the polar bears heard they danced until dawn”). They’re great for framing because they have wide, white space around each page. I used a razor blade to separate the pages from the spine and took them to a local craft store for matting and framing. We chose five of our favorites and hung them in a loose cluster on one wall. Tillman now sells her artwork here.

Tillman has a variety of other stories, including “Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You” (just try to read to your child without tearing up!), “The Crown On Your Head”, and “It’s Time to Sleep My Love”. Several are available in board book format too. Her books always carry the message, “You Are Loved” which is perhaps one of the most valuable messages we can give our children as they embark on their life journey.


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