People all over Maine who grew up with Ashley Bryan books in their libraries are saddened to learn the author/illustrator has passed away.

Who Was Ashley Bryan?

Every child who loves to read has a favorite book and a favorite author. For millions of children, over many generations, that author is Ashley Bryan. His most famous book is probably 'Beautiful Blackbird,' but he wrote more than 70 altogether, told from the African American experience. His words and illustrations are so full of color and joy that they leapt off the page and grabbed international attention. Here are just a few of the many distinctions received by Bryan, during his lifetime.

  • In 2006, he was nominated for a Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2006.
  • Three years later, in 2009, he would go on to win a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his contribution to children's literature.
  • He has a Maine school named for him. The Ashley Bryan Elementary School is located on Islesford, or Little Cranberry Island, where he lived.
  • This is also where you'll find the Ashley Bryan Center, which preserves his artwork and celebrates one of Maine's most renowned literary treasure.

When Did He Die?

Bryan died Friday in Texas, where he had been staying with relatives. Governor Janet Mills expressed her sorrow at the passing of a man she described as having a 'great imagination and childlike soul.' In a media release, she shared memories of the last time she spent time with him.

Over our lunch, he spontaneously recited Langston Hughes, Shakespeare's love sonnets and other wonderful verses. His passing is a tremendous loss, but we are immeasurably better for his many, many gifts to our world.

She proclaimed Monday, July 13th, 2020 Ashley Frederick Bryan Day, in honor of his 97th birthday.

In His Own Words....

I'll close this remembrance of Ashley Bryan's life, with one of his more famous quotes:

Having a safe space to imagine and dream and (re)invent yourself is the first step to being happy and successful, whatever road you choose to pursue.

We're so blessed that your safe space was here in Maine. Thank you, Ashley Bryan, for the many gifts you shared with the world. They will continue to delight young minds for generations to come.

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