Ruth Sanderson 1951 | American illustrator
Sanderson graduated from the Paier College of Art in Connecticut in 1974. Since then, she has illustrated many books for children and young adults. Sanderson is a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Western Massachusetts Illustrator's Guild.
I grew up in the small town of Monson, Massachusetts. I lived there from the time I was born in 1951 until I was 18 and went away to college in 1969. When I was growing up in Monson, my favorite place to play was the woods. I spent many happy hours with my friends at "Cat Rock" which was a beautiful spot in the woods not far from our house on Main Street. My imagination came to life there, and I believed there were magical creatures living in the tangled underbrush that I might catch a glimpse of if I was very lucky. I still believe that, I must confess. My other favorite place was the library. I was a shy child and books were a way to identify with characters that were brave and got to do exciting things. One of my treasured possessions was a battered copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales that once belonged to my father. I read the stories over and over.
My grandmother, Ruth, was the librarian in Palmer for over 40 years. My sister, brother and I spent many hours with her at the library when we were quite small. I remember being in awe at the tall stacks of books and the varnished wooden walls and desks. When I was older, I walked from our house to the Monson library. After moving from picture books to chapter books and novels, I fought over Black Stallion books with my best friend, Judy McDonald (sometimes she won). We anxiously awaited each new adventure, for the series was written during these years. After reading the stories, we would gallop through the woods on our imaginary stallions. When Judy moved from downtown to a farm up on Munn Road near the Wales border, our adventures in the woods expanded into Brimfield State Forest and Dean Pond.
One of the most magical places in the woods near her house was an abandoned theme park. I remember singing songs from The Wizard of Oz!" as we walked the few miles to reach that dirt road which was our gateway to adventure: "Lions and tigers and bears, Oh, my!" At the end of the long, tree-lined dirt road a pink castle loomed. Of course it was locked, but it was easy to get into the old park through the woods. Inside were many buildings in miniature, big enough to stand inside, but small--there was Santa's workshop, a little church, a miniature railroad. My favorite was a fieldstone cottage - probably intended as a fairy-tale house - perhaps the home of the Seven Dwarves. The place also included a Frontier land - a main street with a boardwalk, saloon and hotel, and covered wagons left abandoned to rot in a field. I don't believe the place ever opened to the public. But my imagination was opened there.