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Drawing readers by drawing pictures

Students from all grade levels watched with fascination as illustrator Susan Cornelison answered their questions about art and illustrating on Jan. 30 at Bailey Elementary School. Staff photo by Amber Kispert

You can't judge a book by its cover, but illustrator Susan Cornelison hopes you get drawn in by them. "You gotta get them to pick up the book off the shelves," she said. "I tend to bring kids in through the book covers by making an intriguing cover and using the right colors."

Cornelison spoke to the classes at Bailey Elementary on Jan. 31 as part of "I Love to Read Month" about her love of books and illustrating.

"The skies the limit with books and it's definitely something kids should pursue," she said. "Reading takes you into a different world and you totally just sink in and become a part of it."

Cornelison is the artistic genius behind Bailey's characteristic alertness traits, which can be found in Coach John Wooden's book, "Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success."

"I'm very proud of this book because there was a lot of pressure to do it right and do it well," she said.

Cornelison, who was originally an art teacher, decided to pursue art about ten years ago when a woman she met in passing gave her the best advice she has ever received.

"It only takes one day of being brave," she said.

It was by those words that Cornelison left the teaching world and began to pursue her own art.

"I have always loved to draw and paint," she said. "I enjoyed teaching art, but I also wanted to do it myself."

Cornelison said the thing she loves most about being an illustrator, for both children's and young adult books, is that no two days are the same.

"I love the variety, you're never bored," she said. "Every manuscript is different, it calls for a different style or a different medium."

She also greatly enjoys the challenge of finding the right image for a work, or facing those daunting road blocks.

"I learn something new on every project, so there's always the next challenge, there's always the next step," she said. "I love the challenges of it."

For Cornelison, children's literature is one of her favorite styles to illustrate because of the amount of imagination she is allowed to use in her drawings.

"Children's books are definitely more fun," she said. "You get to be super creative and whimsical."

In the future, Cornelison said she would like to one day to write and illustrate her own children's book so that she can spread the love of reading to even more children.

"Reading just opens up your imagination," she said. "You get totally immersed in that, you can't stop when you start."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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