Organizers of the 5th Annual Reading Rocks in Rockford are thrilled to feature the talents of Gijsbert (Nick) van Frankenhuyzen and wife Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen. The dynamic duo is already known to many Rockford students as they took the elementary schools by storm in May showing their ability to tell a story and illustrate.
The duo owns 40 acres in Bath, MI and share a love of wildlife, taking wounded animals in and nursing them back to health. This affinity for nature has led the couple to an insight for flora and fauna that most do not have. It is that insight and love that conveys itself in their works.
Some of Nick’s published credits include Michigan favorites The Legend of Sleeping Bear, Legend of the Loon and Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five-Mile Poem. The couple has a number of published works that include both their talents, including Adopted by an Owl, Itsy Bitsy and Teeny Weeny and Saving Samantha.
The couple loved their initial visits to Rockford, and getting to know the students. Nick shared his drawing talents and showed how anyone can draw by simply recognizing the basic shapes in nature. Robbyn shared her story-telling skills.
“We went to a couple of elementary schools each day for three days,” Robbyn said. “It was a tight schedule, but amazingly organized and spot-on. All the schools were wonderful hosts and the kids were eager learners, excited ‘drawers,’ and polite listeners. It was a pleasure to work with the Rockford tribe.”
The feeling is mutual; teachers and students alike enjoyed the Van Frankenhuyzen’s artistry. “They are the most down-to-earth sweetest couple,” said Kathy Munger, co-organizer of Reading Rocks in Rockford and a reading specialist for Rockford Public Schools. “They really opened up a new world for the kids, we can’t wait to see what they do during the festival.”
The duo are scheduled for the Author’s Showcase, located in the Dam Parking Lot. Nick will be giving a drawing presentation at 10:20 and 12:20, and Robbyn will be storytelling at 11:20 and 1:20. They will also be bringing their books, art prints and note cards to sell during the festival.
“Our favorite philosophy that we share with all is, ‘make your hobby your career, if you find what you are good at and what you like to do, make that your career because it will never seem like a job.’”
It looks like the van Frankenhuyzens have the secret to being highly successful. Your family is invited to come to Reading Festival and meet this very special couple.