Ashley Bryan’s “Beautiful Blackbird” inspires event

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — “Celebrating Ashley Bryan, Story Time and Bird Collage,” an interactive story time, will be held in memory of the beloved Islesford artist, author and storyteller from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Wendell Gilley Museum.

Hosted jointly by the Gilley and Island Readers and Writers (IRW), the free program will feature a read-aloud by Lisa Herrington and a bird collage activity led by artist Erika Rosso.

Ashley Bryan (1923–2022) was an acclaimed author, painter, printmaker, illustrator, puppet maker and storyteller whose career spanned more than six decades. The event was initially planned as a celebration of his work in honor of his would-be 99th birthday this year.

“Ashley was a longtime supporter and friend to IRW,” the organization’s executive director Jan Coates said. “Many remember him calling the community together and sharing his books with children at IRW’s events.”

Bryan died Feb. 4, 2022, in Texas. IRW therefore shifted its focus to celebrate his life and legacy and introduce a new generation to his work. The free event is geared for ages 5 and up accompanied by a parent or caregiver. Pre-registration is required.

Bryan’s iconic story “Beautiful Blackbird” is a picture book adaptation of a tale from the Ila-speaking people of Zambia that celebrates both community and individuality.

Island Readers and Writers is a nonprofit headquartered in Southwest Harbor, with a mission to inspire a love of reading and learning in children living on Maine’s coastal islands and in rural Washington County.

To pre-register or for more info about the event, visit For more info, contact Kelsey Buckley at 660-5038 or [email protected].


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