Thanks to Betty LeVan of Bluffton for sharing her recollections of a special project to teach Lowcountry children what happens when wildlife habitat is destroyed.
A Tribute to Corinne VanLandingham
By Betty LeVan
After seeing Corinne VanLandingham's obituary in the newspaper recently, it brought back fond memories of our friendship.
It was 1984, and we both lived in Palmetto Dunes. I had one of my paintings at an art show. It was a large painting of a small boy sitting on the beach.
One day, Corinne came knocking on my door and asked if I would illustrate a story she had been mulling for many years.
How thrilled I was to accept the challenge to draw pictures for a children's coloring book. At that time, Corinne had already had a column called "Sand Dollars" for 14 years with The Island Packet.
I felt I couldn't go wrong on my investment.
"Boots: A Little Deer" is about a deer who is very frightened. He had been running all day, and he was lost.
He was looking for his mother and daddy ever since the bulldozer plowed into their cozy home among the bushes and trees early that morning.
In the book, Boots is in the middle of a tennis match; he passes a lagoon where men are fishing and finds himself in front of a tall lighthouse at Harbour Town.
Corinne and I traveled together all over Hilton Head Island and up the coast to Charleston selling our book. I must say, we enjoyed eating at seafood restaurants along the way.
Corinne even bought a hammock on one of our trips. I think she thought she needed the rest.
Seeing Corinne's obituary in the newspaper reminded me of the three boxes of books I had left. I took them to the Boys & Girls Club. I hope they enjoy coloring the books, as we were very proud of the book.
Beany Newhall, for whom the Audubon Newhall Preserve is named, wrote the foreword to our book. Here is what it said:
"Corinne was among the first of the new settlers to arrive on Hilton Head. There were very few houses on the south end of the island, and the deer, raccoons, possums, otter and quail were numerous.
"Very gradually at first and then faster and faster progress took over. The animals were restricted to preserves and smaller areas of open space.
"Corinne tells her story in an appealing way from the viewpoint of the deer. The reader gets a good idea how the rapidly shrinking living areas affect the animals.
"No one could resist 'Boots' and the darling boy and girl who wanted to help him. Young and old will enjoy living our Boots' adventures.
"The charming illustrations are by Betty LeVan, a former school teacher, who left the cold of a New York Finger Lakes cattle farm covered with wildlife for her 'island in the sun.' "
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