Evangeline for Children

Illustrated by Alison Davis Lyne

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This page is to tell a little about the illustrating of "Evangeline for Children" written by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore and published by Pelican Publishing Company. This book was published in February 2002, and should be available at bookstores or directly from PELICAN Publishing Company.

It is also available from Barnes & Noble. Just go to their home page and type in Evangeline for Children in their search box.

In November of 2000, I got a request to illustrate a children's book for Pelican Publishing Company. The book is an abridgment of Longfellow's poem "Evangeline", for children 5 to 8 years old. I immediately got a copy I had on hand of Longfellow's poem. It was a hard read, but an illustrator's delight with all of the descriptions. The story was one of a love lost through forced separation and the devotion shown by the heroine Evangeline. The backdrop for the story was an actual historic event, the 18th century expulsion of the French Acadians from Nova Scotia, and their travels, which ended up (for some of them) in the bayous of Louisiana., where they became the Cajuns of today.

My job was to paint the "pictures that are worth a thousand words". I began with some great photos of one of the author's daughter who posed for Evangeline. I then began to research the period for clothes, housing, and scenes from Nova Scotia. After going through my own mini-library, I went to the local library and to bookstores. I also went to the web and found a wealth of information.

The story begins by introducing the bucolic farm life in French Acadian Nova Scotia in the 1750's. The farmland was made rich by use of a system of dikes built by the French settlers. Located in the Minas Basin close by Cape Blomidon was the small farming community of Grand Pre. Here lived Evangeline, her betrothed Gabriel, and her father Benedict and his father Basil. The entire village led an l8th century farming life, of working the land and living off its bounty. I found some good articles in a National Geographic magazine I had on hand, photographs of the area from various library books and some other geographic information on Cape Blomidon. The illustration below shows Evangeline and Gabriel as children finding a swallows nest in the barn.

The land had changed hands repeatedly, from the French to British and back to French, echoing the ongoing battles in Europe for dominancy by both countries. In 1755 the British government wanted the Acadians to take an oath of loyalty to the British crown, but the Acadians refused. The British forces second in command, a Col. John Winslow ,was ordered to round up the Acadians and deport them. He did this without any plan as to their ultimate destination, resulting in many deaths at sea, and suffering at the various seaports where they tried to settle. Language difficulties resulted in many families being separated, never to be reunited. This is what happened to Evangeline and Gabriel. The rest of the story is of Evangeline's travels in search of her lost Gabriel

I had a question about the shores where Evangeline was forced onto a ship bound away from her home, and the kind people at the Nova Scotia Information Service, were most helpful to a last minute phone call for information.Also helpful was a book "The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America 1607-1783" by Dale Taylor. I found some great paintings showing uniforms, and clothing of the area at a site called La Deportation Des Acadians and information on keel boats (used as one way transportation for travel down the Mississippi). The illustration below shows Evangeline on her way down the Mississippi in a keel boat.

I know I have only scratched the surface of the life and times of Evangeline, but I have enjoyed learning about a portion of our country's history. It has been great fun to put together the pieces of this historic puzzle, and add a dash of my own imagination and color.

I would love to hear (email or snail mail) from other people who are captivated by the Evangeline story. I am always interested in finding out more about a place in time that I have attempted to bring to life in paint. I have always wanted to put the color into history that I wanted to see as a child.


illustrations here are copyrighted by the artist and Pelcian Publishing Company and may not be downloaded.

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