We caught up with the author and illustrator during his recent stop at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, where "Sing to the Sun," an exhibition of his work, was on display. It included illustrations from his children's books as well as his collection of found-object puppets made from items collected near his home on Little Cranberry Isle, off the coast of Maine. Bryan, 87, is an emeritus professor of Dartmouth University and a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. In his memoir, Words to My Life's Song, Bryan shared many of his experiences, including his time in World War II, when he kept his pastels in his gas mask for safekeeping.
What's on your nightstand?
The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. It's been something that I've always wanted to read, part of his Danzig Trilogy.
What did you think?
It was an extraordinary work. I do recommend it. I also finished a children's book on the plane that is out this fall, Forge (by Laurie Halse Anderson). It's on Washington's soldiers and details what soldiers endured during the American Revolution. And now since coming here, I'm planning on reading Yesteryear I Lived in Paradise by Myrtle Scharrer Betz. It's on Honeymoon Island, and I went out there while I was here. I enjoy reading about different islands, since I live on one up North.
What poets do you recommend parents encourage their kids to read to help get them hooked on poetry and reading?
I strongly encourage reading the great black American poets — Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer