By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
A is for Art, B is for Books and C is for Color.
That’s how the new book, “Mazza from A to Z,” begins. The alphabet book tells the story of a group of young animal students as they visit the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, one letter at a time.
The book was illustrated by Jenny Hanf, who graduated from UF in May with a degree in children’s book illustration.
“We had been wanting to do a Mazza A, B, C book of some sorts for years and fell in love with Jenny’s work,” said Ben Sapp, director of the museum. “She’s such a wonderful individual and a great role model for us and the university, so it was a perfect match.”
Hanf worked as an intern at the museum last school year. When the late Jerry Mallett, founder and longtime director of the Mazza Museum, found out she was in the illustration program, the two started to develop the book project so Hanf could gain experience in her field.
“We wanted something that when people come to visit, if it’s for the first time, they would be able to leave with a remembrance of the museum by purchasing this book, as well as the number of school children that come,” said Sapp. “We wanted to make it at a price that, when they come for tours, they could afford it.”
The cost is $7 for paperback and $9 for hard cover.
Hanf, who graduated from Findlay High School in 2012, said it took about a year to complete the book. She first created the animal characters on paper, then scanned them into the computer and added color using a tablet.
“We kind of discussed animals being more fun and relatable to all children,” she said.
Hanf used all kinds of animals to represent the students such as a giraffe, dog, rabbit, rhinoceros, panda, deer and an alligator.
“I picked some of the fun ones, ones that are easy enough for them to recognize because it is a pretty young age for some of them,” she said.
The words to represent each letter were chosen through collaboration, she added.
“We had meetings about once a month and sometimes more,” said Sapp. “She would bring her computer and share with us, and we would discuss and suggest changes and Jenny would come back to us.”
He said it was much like a true publishing experience for Hanf.
Sapp noted that Joseph and Judith Conda, supporters of the museum, gave seed money to get the book published by the university.
“So really, we had very little expense at all. And it’s a process that will be able to refund itself. And when we start to run low, we can have more published,” he said.
The Condas also had an opportunity to meet Hanf who shared with them the process involved in creating the book and some of the changes that took place along the way.
“The other amazing thing with Jenny’s work, and I believe it just happened, but some of her characters truly reflect or represent some of the docents and people we have helping with tours on a regular basis,” said Sapp. “So that was almost magical.”
The lead docent when Hanf started the project was Carolyn Sockrider, said Sapp.
“She passed away last November, but we knew right away that truly was Carolyn,” he said. “Then there’s another character that Jenny knew a lot more was Dr. Jerry Mallet. He is characterized as one of the characters in the book as well. It really makes it special.”
Hanf said one of her favorite pages in the book is the letter “O” for the word “Oh,” which depicts several characters tossing coins into a fountain in the lobby of the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion.
“It’s something I’ve seen be a fun part of the tours here,” she said.
“When the preschool children are finished with their tour, we give them a coin, a penny, and they’re able to toss the penny and make a wish,” Sapp explained.
The book was available for the summer conference of teachers and librarians in July and later at an art camp for children.
“We were so very excited to have the finished book and to know that it was done by one of our students,” said Sapp.
He said it also opens the door to future possibilities for other students in the program.
“It really makes the learning so real for them, and that is what they’ve gone to school for. And it’s just putting what they’ve learned to work and been able to share it with the world,” Sapp said.
Hanf will be presenting at the Nov. 6 Funday Sunday event at the museum. She will be the keynote speaker and autograph books, as well.
The book is available in the museum’s gift shop, which is open during the same hours as the museum: noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays; and other times by appointment by calling 419-434-5521.
Send an E-mail to Jeannie Wolf