Milwaukie immortalized in popular children's book
Lisa Mundorff, a Milwaukie-based artist whose illustrations have appeared in magazines and advertising across the country, has a new children's book out that pays special homage to her hometown.
Mundorff's "Welcome Home," published this year by an imprint of New York publishing giant Macmillan, includes a 2-foot wide drawing of a prairie-dog neighborhood in which the rodents are pictured in a town with numerous recognizable Milwaukie landmarks.
A 1989 graduate of Rex Putnam High School, Mundorff chose to end "Welcome Home" with the town of Milwaukie representing the parting message of the book: "A group of neighborhoods becomes a town, a town on Earth, a place all creatures call home and live with love."
Mundorff, 48, recently won a grand prize at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Western Washington Portfolio Show, and the Tomie dePaola Prize for picture-book illustration. DePaola is an acclaimed children's book author, and in winning the dePaola Prize, Mundorff won a free trip to New York to attend the SCBWI conference.
"It's a challenging and competitive field to get into, a lot of people want to become children's book illustrators, but the hoops you need to jump through are fun and you get to meet some amazing people along the way," Mundorff said.
"Welcome Home" already has a circulation of tens of thousands of copies being distributed nationally.
"I'm lucky that I'm going to have them in Barnes & Noble, Powell's, Amazon and the Made in Milwaukie store downtown," Mundorff said. "It's so much fun making books, I couldn't be luckier. I'm grateful for the chance to get them on the shelves of major book sellers, and in front of as many book lovers as possible."
Milwaukie buildings playing a starring role in the drawing include City Hall, Waldorf School, the post office, food-cart pod, Masonic Lodge, Enchante Chocolatier, Mike's Drive-In, Pietro's Pizza, Things From Another World, Libbie's Restaurant, Cha Cha Cha Mexican Taqueria, the Wunderland nickel arcade and Milwaukie Lumber.
"It's been a lot of fun to watch the downtown grow, and I always attend First Friday art-walk events," she said.
Ledding Library's old building is visible in Mundorff's drawing, along with the former Milwaukie High School building, both of which were demolished last year. She was a big fan of the Art Deco-era architecture of the original 1925 MHS building.
"I wanted to pay tribute to that beautiful building," she said.
Mundorff drew the map on an iPad and colored it in using Photoshop. Instead of Foxy's, the lottery cafe currently on Main Street, Mundorff drew the ice-cream parlor that formerly occupied the space and closed about 20 years ago. The building where her father, Roger, had his practice, is also drawn, with the "Law offices: Mundorff and Kovac" sign still posted.
"It's my ideal Milwaukie, because I took some artistic license," she said.
Growing up in Oak Grove
"Welcome Home" is Mundorff's debut as an author/illustrator; she was the illustrator for "A Small Blue Whale," a children's book written by Beth Ferry and published by Random House in 2017.
For the past four school years, Mundorff has taught two classes of animation at Sabin-Schelleberg Professional Technical Center, which is located at the North Clackamas School District building that housed the John McLoughlin Junior High from which she graduated eighth grade. Mundorff's sister Laura teaches language arts at Alder Creek Middle School in North Clackamas.
For the "Welcome Home" prairie-dog neighborhood, Mundorff drew the Oak Grove area where she grew up behind View Acres Elementary School, between Wanda Drive and Hill Road. Her parents still live in a yellow house drawn in the foreground of the drawing, and the View Acres soccer fields are in the background.
"I tried to throw in a many neighbors as I could, just for fun," Mundorff said.
In 1995, Mundorff graduated with a degree in illustration from Pacific Northwest College of Art. She then lived in Seattle a few years, working in graphic design.
After moving back home and buying her own house in Milwaukie, she decided to become a freelance illustrator and author so she could spend more time at home with her children, who are now 13 and 15.
Mundorff is currently working on a book on animal group names like a float of crocodiles, school of fish and a crash of rhinos. For the page illustrating a band of gorillas, she drew a group of "heavy metal" gorillas in a rock band.
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