Kutztown University presented communication design professor Kevin McCloskey, a Kutztown author and artist, with the 2019 Arthur and Isabel Wiesenberger Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Presented at KU's Faculty and Staff Convocation and Celebration Aug. 23, the award is given annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching skills and service to the University. McCloskey has been teaching at KU since 1989.

According to KU, McCloskey uses his blog, Illustration Concentration, now in its 10th year, as a link between KU alumni and current students in the Communication Design Department. He is active in the community, volunteers to review incoming freshmen portfolios and has served as a mentor to numerous colleagues and students. He has led KU study abroad courses in England and Oaxaca, Mexico. He received two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships to study in Mexico, the Social Equity award from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and an outstanding service award from the KU chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty.

“I've been at Kutztown University for 30 years. We have a lot of younger faculty doing outstanding work. So, I think of this as a sort of a ‘lifetime achievement’ award,” said McCloskey. “This award will motivate me to do my best in my remaining years teaching.”

In the past five years, McCloskey authored “We Dig Worms!,” “The Real Poop on Pigeons!,” “Something's Fishy,” “Snails Are Just My Speed!” and the most recently released Sept. 10 “Ants Don't Wear Pants!” The books are available wherever books are sold like Firefly Bookstore in Kutztown. Two of his recent titles have been selected by School Library Journal's annual top 10 list of graphic books for children.

“McCloskey keeps curious minds growing through blending science, art, and comedy in his Giggle and Learn series,” according to Toon Books, the publisher of his books.

“Being a children's book author and illustrator gives me the opportunity to educate an audience I might never meet,” said McCloskey. “I want kids to know wherever they live, nature is near. Simple creatures -- worms, pigeons, snails, ants -- can be just as fascinating as big animals that live far away, like lions and rhinos. I want youngsters to stay curious about science and the natural world.”

He shared a review by the School Library Journal, “In the newest title in the “Giggle and Learn” series, a girl and boy imagine shrinking to the size of ants. Direct, often playful text describes basic facts about ants, such as their physical features and life cycles. Accurate cartoon illustrations add to the lighthearted tone. One full-page drawing shows two ants as they ‘tap each other with their antennae to share news.’ Antennae, jaws, and other body parts are clearly identifiable, while subtle facial expressions and a word balloon for one ant inject just the right amount of humor. Well-chosen tidbits, such as elephants’ fear of ants, are accompanied by engaging illustrations. The author conveys the variety of ant species with some especially interesting examples such as the trap-jaw ant and exploding ants. The premise of the kids shrinking, then growing back at the end, is not fully explored, but there’s plenty of lively and intriguing information, with high visual appeal. VERDICT An excellent choice for younger readers who like animal facts peppered with humor,” writes Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, Oregon.

How does he know so much about ants? This summer McCloskey took a short course about ants at the University of Florida.

“I met some amazing ant experts who are excited that I am teaching little children about insects,” he said.

McCloskey then engages young readers and artists through author lectures to children.

His “My Ants Don't Wear Pants!” book tour begins Sept. 21 with the Brooklyn Book Festival in New York and includes stops at the Washington, D.C. Politics and Prose; Takoma Park Library in Maryland; Open Book Foundation in Washington, D.C.; Children’s Book Fest in New Jersey; Easton Book Festival; Comics Art at Pratt Institute and concludes Nov. 7 at the Oley Valley Elementary.

“I will be visiting inner-city schools in Washington, D.C. That's when I will know what children think about it,” he said.

McCloskey has also been invited to speak to hotel guests on Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the new Hampton Inn, Kutztown, as part of the hotel’s In House Guest Activities that showcases the local Kutztown area and encourage hotel guests to stay and buy local.

Check out McCloskey’s blog at https://illustrationconcentration.com.

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