Meadow Brook Hall Coloring Book Review

Meadow Brook Hall Coloring Book Review – review of the coloring book for kids about Meadow Brook Hall at Oakland University and an interview with the books author, Geoff Upward.

From one coloring book to the next, most are about the same. Large, simple line drawings the kids can color in. As kids get older, they tend to “grow out” of the coloring books and feel too old for them. But, if they’re anything like my husband, they still find joy in coloring.

Meadow Brook Hall’s Executive Director, Geoff Upward has “written” a new coloring book that can cater to older kids. Not only are the illustrations more sophisticated and detailed, but the coloring book tells a story. Actually, the story is a work of historical fiction and all the people and animals mentioned in the story really lived at Meadow Brook Farms.

If you live near or in Rochester, you’re very familiar with Meadow Brook Hall. Meadow Brook Hall was the home of Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company heiress Matilda Dodge Wilson and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. The coloring/story book is a short depiction of daughter Frances Dogde’s daily life. It’s a great insight into the Dodge and Wilson’s families home life.

Being that the story and the author are so close to home, I decided to interview the author to find out more.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I really appreciate the illustrations in this coloring book. What made you decide to go the more realistic approach with the drawings?

Meadow Brook Hall Coloring Book Author Geoff Upward – I really wanted the book to be a combination coloring book and story book.  I got the idea in reading books to my 3-year-old twin grandsons.  They really follow the stories in their books and learn the words pretty quickly. One of their books included a mouse that would show up in the background on a page here and there. I wanted to do something similar in the Meadow Brook Farms book, so I wrote that into the creative brief.  Once the illustrator, Tim Jones, read more of the background I shared with him, he thought using Pekingese dogs would work even better, since the Dodge-Wilson family raised them. I thought this was a great idea, so we went with the dogs.  Interestingly, Tim’s five-year-old daughter really got into the story and her Dad’s work and helped him place the dogs in fun places.

Beyond all this, since Meadow Brook is a historical museum, I wanted to share the amazing story of the Farms and Dodge Stable with young readers . . . to get them interested in something that really happened right here in Oakland County.  To do that in a compelling way, I thought an illustration style through which young readers could place themselves in the settings would be key, thus the realistic drawings. Fortunately Tim Jones was really taken with the project and put a lot of effort into realistic depictions of the characters and the settings around the farm, based on historical photographs we shared with him and even some early home movie clips.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – You wrote a short story about Frances and her horses. Will there be more books with more stories from the lives of the Dodge and Wilson families?

Meadow Brook Hall Coloring Book Author Geoff Upward – We plan to publish as many books as we can afford (which of course will depend on sales!) . . . we have some two dozen ideas on our list right now.  Next up will be a hard-cover coffee table book on Meadow Brook Hall and Gardens. This will likely be published by Spring 2012.  Following that will be a history of Meadow Brook Farms.  But, you never know what we may come up with in the meantime . . . we’d like to do a comic book and a cookbook at some point, as well as some biographies.

Because of the rich history of Meadow Brook, which is known to be the icon of the country estates of the automotive aristocracy, and the people who lived and worked here, we have a lot of material to work with. Our archives span a great period in American history . . . from the early years of the 20th century through the 1960s. These are years that are known to be some of America’s greatest, and we want to share those lessons of innovation, hard work and helping the community that were at the core.

Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – Where can customers find the book if they would like to purchase it?

Meadow Brook Hall Coloring Book Author Geoff Upward – The 16-page plus cover 11 x 8-1/2 book sells for $5.95 in Meadow Brook’s Museum Shop. Call 248-364-6206, email glaza@oakland.edu or click on Shop from the Meadow Brook Hall website.

Kids will enjoy the story and they will enjoy taking their time coloring in the pictures. My husband commented that the drawings would be fun to color in with colored pencils. I totally agree and think I just might be joining him and testing my coloring skills!

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