Local illustrator recognized in children’s book competition

An illustration from Abi Cushman’s picture book “Aardvark and Zebra Star in Yet Another Alphabet Book.”

Abi Cushman, an illustrator based out of Niantic, has received an honorable mention in the New Voices in Children’s Literature: Tassy Walden Awards for her picture book “Aardvark and Zebra Star in Yet Another Alphabet Book.”

Organized by the Shoreline Arts Alliance and judged by national literary agents and editors, the Tassy Walden competition recognizes exceptional work by unpublished children’s authors and illustrators in Connecticut.

“I was thrilled and honored to receive a Tassy Walden award,” said Cushman. “Trying to break into the children’s book industry is tough. At times you wonder if the work you’re doing is good enough, and if it will resonate with other people. You take a big risk because you put hours upon hours of work into something that maybe no one will like or really get. This recognition in the Tassy Walden competition is incredibly encouraging.”

Cushman’s funny, meta picture book features two best friends, Aardvark and Zebra, who jump into what they believe to be a traditional alphabet book. Aardvark’s enthusiasm dims when the words in the book don’t meet his expectations. But when Zebra gets stuck in some quicksand, Aardvark has to use whatever words the book throws at him and some quick thinking if he wants to rescue his friend.

Cushman began writing and illustrating her book last August. In May, she signed with literary agent Ilse Craane of BookStop Literary Agency in Orinda, California. Cushman is a member of the Killingworth Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Critique Group and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is also the owner of Brown Bear Creative, an art/design firm in Niantic.

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