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Eight decorated and painted wooden eggs against an orange background.
Eight of Nancy Willard’s painted and decorated wooden eggs

The author, illustrator, poet, novelist, and professor Nancy Willard is often described as mixing “the magical and the mundane” in her work, a trait she attributes to the teachings of her parents. Indeed, in her children’s book  “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers,” which was awarded the 1982 Newbery Medal, Willard imagines Blake as an innkeeper serving various imaginary guests. 

The same principles shaped the time Willard spent as faculty at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in the 1980s and 90s, where she had other Bread Loaf attendees sign wooden eggs. She then painted, drew, decorated, glued, bedazzled each egg - themed around the author or what they were working on at the time. 

In 2020, Nancy Willard’s son, James Lindbloom, sent almost three dozen of these precious eggs to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Lindbloom writes in his donation letter: “You’ll notice some of them are inscribed to me. This is the first time I’ve seen them - I strongly suspect mom used me as a pretext, if not a ruse, in her odd request when approaching people.”. The eggs were transferred to Special Collections by Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Director, Jennifer Grotz.

Seven wooden eggs painted and decorated by Nancy Willard, against an orange background.
Seven wooden eggs painted and decorated by Nancy Willard.

Cataloging these eggs was really fun. Full of mysteries, some solved, and some that remain unsolved.

Solved: Robert “Bob” Pack’s octopus egg (Pack and Willard wrote a children’s book together (“The Octopus Who Wanted to Juggle” (1990))). 

 

Painted egg with black octopus outlined in white against orange background
Bob Pack’s octopus egg
Painted wooden egg with the name "Bob Pack" signed, against orange background
Bob Pack’s octopus egg

Unsolved: Ron Powers’ Big Bird themed egg.

against an orange background, a white hand holding a painted and decorated wooden egg with Big Bird reading a book on top.
Ron Powers’ Big Bird egg

For additional photos and information on the eggs, check out our Instagram posts!

 

That’s all for today, yolks! 

 

Works cited: 

“Nancy Willard.” Poetry Foundation, 2017, <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/nancy- willard> 

Roberts, Sam. “Nancy Willard, Prolific Children’s Book Author, Dies at 80.” The New York Times, 7 Mar. 2017, <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/books/nancy-willard-dead-author.html…;

 

 

Liefe is a joint English and Dance major from the class of 2025.5. Her passion for librarianship extends to her current work for Middlebury Library’s Interlibrary Loan department and summer work for the Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes, Vermont. 

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