In Memory of Ashley Bryan
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of our friend Ashley Bryan, who passed away earlier this month. Ashley was a writer and illustrator of children’s books, many about the African-American experience. He was U.S. nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2006 and he won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his contribution to American children’s literature in 2009.
Our own George Emlen had a few words to say about Ashley and the impact he had on Jack Langstaff and on Revels.
“We note with sadness the passing of another great artist with ties to Revels – prolific children’s book illustrator and author Ashley Bryan. Ashley and Revels founder Jack Langstaff, both with many publications to their names, were kindred souls. They collaborated on two books of spirituals: What a Morning! The Christmas Story in Black Spirituals and All Night, All Day: A Child’s First Book of African-American Spirituals. John Andrew Ross, another Jack collaborator, wrote the music arrangements for both books.
Ashley’s stories, whether retelling African folk tales or centering on Black American life, pulse with rhythms and cadences that honor the ancient art of storytelling. His books are alive with color and motion, reflecting Ashley’s vivid and animated storytelling, his own brand of performance art.
With his ebullient personality, Ashley greeted everyone as an old friend, ever eager to share his passion for life. He and Jack both had a captivating, childlike wonder about the world and the sense that every day offered the possibility of a new adventure. This quality reveals itself on every page of Ashley’s work as well as in every one of his personal relationships, and it is deep in Revels’ DNA.
Here at Revels we are grateful for Ashley’s friendship, and for his unique way of spreading joy and celebration in the world.”