• Kevin Hawkes

Kevin in the Great North Woods



With winter storms blowing through Maine and more snow on the

horizon, my thoughts are drawn to one of my favorite books that I illustrated years ago: Marven of the Great North Woods by Kathryn Lasky. When I first read

Kathryn’s astonishing story of her father’s childhood odyssey, I was incredulous!

A ten year old boy? Alone in Northern Minnesota in the dead of winter?!

How could that be possible?


My first experience on skis came sometime in my late teens and was nothing to brag about. Even after some practice, there was always a 50/50 chance I would end up in a face plant on the downhill glide. I loved to spend time outdoors as a child. My own father was from Idaho and made sure we had many camping experience but we tended to go in herds. There were lots of us. I was never alone.



Starting the sketches for the illustrations for Marven was a challenge. I did quite a bit of research on the time period and worried about “getting it right”. Soon, however, the images that flickered onto the screen of my imagination became mesmerizing and full of contrasts. A small boy alone on a train platform surrounded by wilderness, long violet blue shadows like ink stains across the snow, orange-lit interiors of cabins glowing with lantern light against cobalt blue skies and the towering siihouettes of lumberjacks moving through dark and silent forests.






I love these paintings. Marven’s incredible odyssey continues to inspire me. Whenever I peek out my kitchen window in February at the deep snow and am tempted to wrap myself around the radiator, thoughts of Marven push me and my “derrière” out the door and into an adventure!


Marvin of the Great North Woods is available in softcover through various bookstores and on-line retailers.


If you would like to purchase a hardcover edition, I do have a limited number available this month for $18 plus shipping and handling. Please e-mail me in the comment box for information.


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