In September of 2001 the first National Book Festival was held in Washington D.C. Laura Bush, a retired librarian, then First Lady of the United States, worked with the Librarian of Congress to launch this new event to encourage a lifelong love of reading. James Billington, then Librarian of Congress, said, “We must all try, in every way we can, to send the message that reading is critical to our lives and to the life of our nation.” (1)
In 2002 a new addition to the Festival, The Pavilion of the States, was added. (2) Each year states choose a Children’s or Young Adult book they feel represents them. A representative from each state heads to D.C. to set up a table to showcase their choice and more importantly their state. On the day of the festival thousands of children and their parents run through the pavilion collecting stamps, stickers and bookmarks, on the way learning more about the country they live in. Washington State was involved almost from the very beginning sending representatives from the State Library to the book festival since 2003. The books that have been selected each year are an eclectic mix, but they all have one thing in common, they represent Washington State.
The 2017 choice is by author/illustrator Nikki McClure, a Washington native and longtime resident of Olympia. Waiting For High Tide (Abrams, 2016) tells the story of a young boy scouring the high tide line for treasures, practicing walking the plank and waiting for high tide so he can swim. While he waits, sea birds and other creatures mirror the family’s behaviors: building and hunting, wading and eating. At long last the tide arrives, and human and animal alike savor the water.
McClure’s picture book features full-bleed cut-paper illustrations in black and white with isolated use of blues and pinks. “Lavish with words and images in a story that is a worthy heir to Robert McCloskey’s work. The sense of place is so rich that it seems possible to smell the air and hear the gulls,” says a Publisher’s Weekly starred review.
It is that sense of place that led to its selection to represent the state of Washington in the Pavilion of the States and in the Great Places, Great Reads publication at the National Book Festival. McClure said she wrote the book to “represent place and to have a beach book that wasn’t East Coast and was for Washington kids.”
Nikki McClure is an author and artist who works with cut-paper to create picture books and an annual calendar. “I cut my images from black paper with an X-Acto knife. Everything is connected,” McClure says. “It’s all one piece of paper, yet it now it holds a story.”
Her books include “To Market, To Market,” “How to Be a Cat,” “Mama Is It Summer Yet?” and illustrator of “All in a Day” by Cynthia Rylant.
The Washington Center for the Book is a partnership of The Seattle Public Library and the Washington State Library. It is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.