Arts Literature

Book Feature: Of Words and Water

<em>The Story of Wilma Dykeman – Writer, Historian, Environmentalist</em>

Shannon Hitchcock, Author; Sophie Page, Illustrator

The lifetime achievements of Appalachian author Wilma Dykeman grace a new picture book for children that combines an engaging narrative and colorful illustrations to depict Dykeman’s life and her work that brought much-needed attention to the polluted state of the French Broad River in the 1950s.

“The problem of river pollution never completely goes away and so it’s up to every generation to make a commitment to clean water,” author Shannon Hitchcock says. “I hope Wilma’s story inspires young readers and their families to do their part.”

Of Words and Water is the fourth book in Hitchcock’s Storytellers’ Series, and features engaging illustrations by Sophie Page. “Her work has a folk art quality to it that pairs perfectly with Appalachian storytelling,” Hitchcock says.

Page uses a combination of diorama, collage and drawing to create her non-traditional illustrations. “The sculptural elements are made from painted clay or wood, and placed into cut-paper environments to develop a sense of depth through shadow,” she says. “I then photograph the scenes and draw on top of those images to add detail.”

Of Words and Water: The Story of Wilma Dykeman – Writer, Historian, Environmentalist, April 2024, children’s, hardcover $18.95, softcover $9.95, written by Shannon Hitchcock, illustrated by Sophie Page, and published by Reycraft Books, New Rochelle, NY. Hitchcock will appear at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café on Monday, June 10, at 6 p.m. Learn more at and

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