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Boston, MA – June 30, 2016 – As part of its yearlong celebration of the Trustee’s 125th Anniversary, and in honor of its founder and visionary preservationist Charles Eliot, the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization has unveiled a commemorative edition children’s picture book, Charley Eliot and the Knights of the Woods. The fictional tale about Charles Eliot’s childhood was commissioned and created in partnership with twin brothers Paul and Peter H. Reynolds, best-selling children’s book authors and founders of the award-winning Boston-based media studio FableVision.
The story, written by Paul with illustrations by Peter, features ten-year old Charley Eliot, who enlists his friends to protect a grove of ancient oaks that are being cleared to make way for a road. It is a tribute to the real Charles Eliot, the pioneering landscape architect and open space visionary who was born in 1859 and went on to found the then-named “Trustees of Public Reservations,” now known as The Trustees, in 1891 as the first land preservation nonprofit of its kind in the world which preserves and operates some of the state’s most beautiful and iconic beaches, campgrounds, woodlands, historic houses, gardens and recreational sites. Though imaginatively recounted, many of the elements of the story are based on the actual early years of Eliot’s life, when he spent time in Norton’s Woods in Cambridge, developed a deep appreciation for nature and open spaces, and formed a club with his childhood friends called “The Knights of the Woods.”
The Reynolds brothers, also advocates of historic and open space preservation, are known for creating and distributing original educational media, mobile games, and apps designed to move the world to a better place. Limited quantities of the collectors-edition book are also now available at 12 Trustees gift shops and sites across Massachusetts. For more information, click here.
Additional copies will be available at a special family story time & 125th birthday party celebration of the Reynolds brothers in the Children’s Library at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square on Saturday, July 23rd at 11AM. The event will include a special book signing by the authors, delicious birthday treats, and a creative activity. Ideal for ages 6 to 10, the event will be fun for all ages who care about protecting Massachusetts’ natural and historic places. Attendees are also encouraged to visit the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Gallery, located on the first floor of the Library’s McKim Building, to experience "From the Sea to the Mountains: The Trustees 125th Anniversary," an exhibition presented in partnership between the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and The Trustees open through August.
The Trustees’ longtime mission has been to carry on Eliot’s legacy in preserving special places for the public to enjoy, and engage more people, including young families, in their work and properties through events and programs, nearly half of which are geared towards families. “Many people who live in Massachusetts may not know there is a Trustees’ property within five miles of where they live and that most are free, or low cost for members to visit, and open year round,” says Trustees President and CEO Barbara Erickson. “We hope that this inspirational story of our imaginative and forward-thinking founder from the talented Reynolds brothers will spread the passion for conservation to the younger generations, and encourage them to visit and find magical moments at a Trustees site this summer and beyond.”
During Eliot’s time at the end of the 19th century, Boston had become the nation's fourth largest manufacturing center, with development consuming farmland, countryside, riverfront, and even historic sites. Boston's population swelled by tens of thousands and living conditions were deplorable. To protect these places, Eliot proposed the creation of a unique statewide nonprofit organization that would hold special places for the public to enjoy “just as the Public Library holds books and the Art Museum pictures.” The Trustees of Public Reservations was established and signed into law by Massachusetts Governor William E. Russell on May 21, 1891 thanks to Eliot’s leadership and bold vision.
New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, who illustrated the new story, and whose other books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide and are printed in 25 languages, is equally excited about the book’s impact, “At FableVision, we’re very fond of visionaries — and Charles Eliot truly was one. I’m thrilled to be able to draw attention to his vision and mission that allowed The Trustees to protect so many of Massachusetts’ most precious sites for 125 years. Sharing that story with people of all ages is real honor.”
Reynolds’ twin brother Paul was deeply touched by this project. “Charles Eliot died when he was only 37, but in his short life he called generations to protect nature and historic places. I hope this story will reach a new, younger audience for the Trustees, and foster the next generation of stewardship of our natural and historic resources.” The Reynolds’ book Going Places recently landed the Library of Congress MassBook Award Best Picture Book of the Year. The brothers hope that the Charley Eliot book will one day be a candidate for the award, which honors Massachusetts-themed literature.
Released in a limited edition printing, the Charley Eliot and the Knights of the Woods storybook was carefully hand-bound by FableVision’s print partner, Bridgeport National Bindery (BNB) in Agawam, MA. BNB’s Michele Brennan notes, “Our most seasoned hand-binder from our library division, an immigrant from Moldova who has been with Bridgeport for nearly thirty-five years, used the time-honored technique fan binding. This is a centuries-old skill, one we decided to use once I shared the mission of The Trustees. Bridgeport preserves these skills and passes them on to our younger interns. It seemed appropriate to bind the books in this way to honor The Trustees’ 125th Anniversary.” Finch Paper, operating in Glens Falls, New York, generously provided the paper for this edition. Finch has managed forestlands for over 150 years and continues to care for the land on behalf of The Nature Conservancy® as well as other landowners.
The endpapers at the front and back of the book feature illustrations by the Reynolds’ longtime colleague Julia Anne Young who is also a writer, illustrator and designer. Young’s drawings feature a handful of The Trustees’ signature properties around the Commonwealth.
The Trustees’ 125th anniversary celebrations kicked off on May 21st with a highly-attended, free “Home Sweet Home” historic open house day across the state and will continue throughout the year with other public events and celebrations. Festivities include a Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra concert on August 6th, hosted for the first time ever at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich.
About the Reynolds Brothers
Peter H. Reynolds and Paul A. Reynolds, twin brothers, are co-founders of FableVision and The Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning & Creativity and often collaborate on creative works. Paul, who researched and wrote the new Charley Eliot storybook, is CEO of FableVision, and oversees the company’s K12 edtech publishing group FableVision Learning. Paul also teaches digital media production at Boston College, where he has served as adjunct faculty for over two decades. Peter H. Reynolds, the book’s illustrator, is a creativity advocate, and NY Times best-selling author and illustrator. Peter’s book The Dot was named as one of the top 15 “Greatest Books for Kids” of all time by Scholastic Parent & Child magazine — alongside Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Peter also founded The Blue Bunny, a family-owned and operated children’s book, toy, creativity store.
About FableVision Studios
For the past two decades, FableVision Studios has been creating award-winning websites, games and activities, animated films, interactive graphic novels, museum kiosks, digital storybooks, desktop applications, and iPhone apps. FableVision’s media, storytelling and technology solutions move the meter for publishers, broadcasters, museums, research groups, foundations, and educational institutions. Co-located at the Boston Children’s Museum, FableVision is dedicated to helping all learners reach their full potential and to helping like-minded organizations tell "stories that matter, stories that move" that will move the world to a better place. http://www.fablevisionstudios.com/
About The Trustees
The Trustees preserves and cares for some of the best of Massachusetts’ natural, scenic, and cultural sites for the public to use and enjoy. The organization’s passion is to engage more people in culture, agriculture, nature, and healthy, active lifestyles, using its properties, its community spaces, and its many programs as a powerful and compelling platform to connect people to places and each other in our increasingly digitized world. As the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization and the nation’s first land trust founded in 1891, The Trustees celebrates its 125th Anniversary this year and continues its work in protecting the irreplaceable for everyone, forever. Today, The Trustees cares for 116 spectacular and diverse reservations spanning more than 26,000 acres— from working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, and community parks, to barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns and historic sites, many of which are National Historic Landmarks — located within minutes of every resident. Funded by more than 125,000 members and supporters and 1.6 million visitors in 2015, The Trustees invites you to get out, get inspired, and find magic in the moment at a Trustees property near you: www.thetrustees.org.