New Storybook Transports Kids & Grown Up Kids To Meet Massachusetts' Famed Conservationist Who Saved State's Most Precious Places

Massachusetts’ Best-Selling Author/Illustrator Duo Commissioned to Create Commemorative Storybook to Celebrate The Trustee's 125th Anniversary - the Commonwealth's Largest Conservation & Preservation Non-Profit

What kind of child grows up to change the world? The Trustees of Reservations, the Commonwealth's largest conservation and preservation organization, knows the answer. As part of their 125th anniversary celebration they commissioned FableVision co-founders Peter H. Reynolds and Paul A. Reynolds to write a commemorative-edition children’s picture book as a tribute to a little boy named Charley Eliot—who would grow up to be Massachusetts’ visionary preservationist and founder of The Trustees of Reservations—now known simply as The Trustees.

The story, written by Paul and illustrated 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. He dubs them "The Knights of the Woods," and together they come to the rescue of their beloved trees where they always played. As Charley announces at the end of the story, they vow to protect and preserve all special places—the fields, the mountains, the beaches and the woods for all—and for all time.

Along with family-friendly programs, camps, events, and activities, the new storybook introduces the Trustees’ mission to carry on Eliot’s legacy to a whole new generation. As Trustees President and CEO Barbara Erickson notes, “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 and inspirations at our scenic, recreational, natural and cultural sites.” 

FableVision’s founder and New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is 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,” shared Reynolds.

Reynolds’ twin brother Paul, who recently landed the Library of Congress MassBook Award for Best Picture Book of the Year for his storybook collaboration with Peter called Going Places, was deeply touched by this project. “In researching, I learned that Eliot’s life was tragically cut short at age 37 by spinal meningitis, after which his father Charles W. Eliot, who was President of Harvard University, wrote a 770-page biography of his son’s life. Reading it, I felt as if Eliot’s father transported through time and was sitting next to me sharing about his remarkable little boy. Building on those details, I tried to create a story that would capture his son’s love for nature and history—a passion that would propel little Charley into a lifetime of conservation advocacy. The landscape of Massachusetts was impacted for generations because of this man’s vision. I hope this story inspires all ages to continue Eliot’s vision through the work of The Trustees, and that it will foster the next generation of stewardship of our natural and historic resources.”  

Peter, Paul and Julia stand with a picture of Charles Eliot.

Peter, Paul and Julia stand with a picture of Charles Eliot.

The endpapers at the front and back of the book feature full-color illustrations by the Reynolds’ longtime colleague and fellow FableVisionary 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. 

Attendees of The Trustee’s 125th Anniversary Gala in May received advance copies of the storybook. 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 explains, “Our most seasoned hand-binder from our library division, an immigrant from Moldova who has been with Bridgeport for nearly 35 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.” 

Limited quantities of the collectors-edition book are also available at 12 sites, including The Trustees’ most visited National Historic Landmarks: Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich and Naumkeag House and Gardens in Stockbridge. Additional Trustees locations carrying the limited-edition book include Appleton Farms Dairy Store in Ipswich, KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market, Appleton Farms’ booth at the Boston Public Market, The Old Manse in Concord, Powisset Farm Guest House at Field Farm in Dover, Tully Lake Campground in Royalston, and Dunes Edge Campground in Provincetown.

Celebrate this special book with Peter and Paul during special book signing events this summer, including a public unveiling and birthday party at the Boston Public Library on Saturday, July 23, as well as special teacher/librarian event at The Blue Bunny Books in Dedham later this year.

The Trustees’ 125th anniversary celebrations will continue throughout the year with other public events and celebrations. Festivities include a Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra concert on Aug. 6, hosted for the first time ever at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich. 

Kathy LoukosComment