Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lisa Brown

Friday evening we hosted LISA BROWN who is the author and illustrator of a growing number of picture books including How to Be, and Sometimes. She also publishes a bi-monthly illustrated book review in the San Francisco Chronicle. And is married to Lemony Snicket.

She came in Victorian corsetry and an amazing hat to talk about Picture the Dead, a Civil War-era ghost story written in collaboration with Adele Griffin that is filled with Lisa’s illustrations of daguerreotypes, family portraits, and clues. To see our review click here.

To set the scene we dimmed the lights and lit candles (see photo). Lisa was charming and informative as she talked through her slide show of old photos and the ideas behind the book. Apparently almost every character has a real-life 19th century counterpart, unearthed from the archives of the Library of Congress. She talked about how strained people looked in old photographs, thinking it was just really, really hard to live a life back then (instead of the photographic process). Exposure time for these early photos was VERY long; so you could be asked to sit for twenty minutes in blinding sunlight. Folks’ sit-perfectly-still times were shortened to thirty seconds by the time the book is set, which is manageable but not comfortable. No wonder they looked strained. And during the 1860s, some photographers claimed that they could photograph the spirits of the dead. I really enjoyed the slide show, as did the audience. If you get a chance to hear her speak, GO.

And to find our more about Lisa and Picture the Dead click here.

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