Friday, November 1, 2019

New librarian brings love of books and artistic talent to JSMS

Mari Dieumegard with the two
books she has illustrated
By Briana Bizier

Not many librarians can showcase their own work in their library’s collection. Yet this is true for Jordan Small Middle School’s new librarian, Mari Dieumegard, who has also illustrated two children’s books.

I’ve always loved books,” Mari Dieumegard, with a smile. “I love reading young adult books, and I love making children’s books. This job is really the best of both worlds.”

Originally from Alaska, Dieumegard has fond memories of visiting her grandparent’s camp in Monmouth, Maine over the summers. She attended Lewis and Clark College, located in the other Portland, before moving to Maine to attend the Maine College of Art. After graduating with her BFA, Dieumegard began teaching in an independent school in Portland.

My mom was a teacher,” Dieumegard stated, “so working with kids came naturally.”

While teaching, Dieumegard was also developing her career as an independent artist and illustrator. In a process familiar to many who work in the arts, she sent out innumerable query letters and samples of her illustrations to publishers and agents. She also moved away from the independent school in Portland and began working as a substitute teacher in the RSU14 system of Windham and Raymond.

When a position opened up in the Raymond Elementary School library, Dieumegard applied and was hired. Then, three years after sending out her many query letters, Mari was contacted by Islandport Press of Yarmouth. Would she be interested, they wondered, in providing the illustrations for a new children’s book written by Jean Flahive? Dieumegard accepted their offer, and her first publication, “The Old Mainer and the Sea”, was released in October of 2017.

We had a book birthday party at the elementary school,” Dieumegard recalled. “It was really fun.”
My personal Raymond Elementary School insider, Sage Bizier, still remembers this book birthday party, so I can verify that it was indeed very fun. Dieumegard’s collaboration with the author Jean Flahive resulted in a second children’s book, “The Canoe Maker”, which was released earlier this year. Naturally, both books are available at the Jordan-Small Middle School library and the Raymond Elementary School library. You can also find signed copies of both books at Mari’s website:
Although her illustrations focus on children’s books, Dieumegard’s love of young adult literature shines through her thoughtful book recommendations. She gave me a tour of the library while Lisa Schadler, the previous librarian at Jordan-Small Middle School, re-organized the book selection by genre to make it easier for young readers to find the books that appeal to them.
offering several recommendations for the voracious nine-year-old reader at my house.

I personally like fantasy and realistic fiction,” she said, “but I am trying to push my boundaries and read more horror and spooky stories so I can help the kids find what they want.”

Dieumegard also brings her considerable artistic talents to her position as a librarian. As the advisor to the Jordan Small library club, the LitWits, Dieumegard is currently sponsoring a logo design contest for the middle school students. She plans to teach students in the library club how to use Google Draw to create their own logo for the library. In a process that is a bit similar to Dieumegard’s own experiences submitting her illustrations to publishers, the students’ designs will then be posted online, and the school will vote to choose the winner.

This library is really a community space,” Dieumegard said. “Teachers will send their classes down here to work on projects, or students will come down with a library pass.” She smiled as a few young library lovers poked their heads into the sunny, open room.
It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job.”

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