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Mary Azarian

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09/26/2009

Mary Azarian, to whom the 2009 Burlington Book Festival was dedicated, grew up on a market garden farm in northern Virginia. She attended Smith College, where she studied printmaking with Leonard Baskin and painting with Jules Cohen and Elliott Offner. In 1963 she moved to Vermont and taught in a one room school in Walden for four years. She began her printmaking studio, Farmhouse Press, in 1969 and has been producing woodcut prints since then.

In 1974 she participated in the Vermont Images Project sponsored by the Vermont Council on the Arts and produced a set of alphabet woodcuts depicting and documenting the fast disappearing life on small hill farms. The Vermont Department of Education had the alphabet reproduced as poster sets which were then distributed to K-3 classes in all Vermont schools. This project eventually became her first picture book, A Farmer’s Alphabet, published in 1981 by David R Godine. Since then she has illustrated more than 50 books including Snowflake Bentley, which earned Azarian the 1999 Caldecott Award. Her most recent books are Tuttle’s Red Barn and Darwin, a picture biography of Charles Darwin, published this spring to coincide with the 200th anniversary of his birth. She is currently working on a book about dogs (a favorite subject) called The Shih Tzu’s Haiku.

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