WILTON — A senior project at Bates College in 1997 became the first children’s book published for Maine author/illustrator Matt Tavares of Ogunquit.

Tavares talked about his work and sketched a quick drawing Wednesday for participants in a Summer Reading Program presentation at Wilton Free Public Library.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Tavares liked to draw. He also liked baseball especially the Red Sox.

As an art major in college, he decided he wanted to illustrate children’s books, he said.

After a search for a piece to illustrate for the senior project didn’t materialize, he wrote the book, “Zachary’s Ball,” based on baseball and then set out to find a publisher.

While one book has turned in to several, Tavares has also illustrated books for other authors including one on the Statue of Liberty and another on President John F. Kennedy.

Each required a lot of homework and much research to sketch and then paint in details for each illustration in the book, he said.

Trying to make people realistic, he often poses himself, family and friends in costumes and takes photos. Later he uses the photos to draw how an arm is bent on a baseball pitcher or how people stood to watch the Statue of Liberty built in Paris.

Asking for a volunteer, Tavares posed Kole Cousineau as a pitcher to show how he makes a quick sketch of the baseball players and surrounding details like other players, the stands and the green wall at Fenway.

While he enjoys illustrating, he has also come to appreciate being both author and illustrator.

The hardest part of writing in school was when a teacher would make him go back and rewrite his work, he said.

Now working with editors and art directors, he takes their suggestions as a way to make the book better.

“I don’t take it personally and try not to get too attached to something I’ve written,” he said about his attempts to tell a story.

Much of his work centers on baseball although he showed his first copy of his new book “Over the River and Through the Woods,” expected out in September.

Another book on Ted Williams is expected out in 2012, he said.

One book, “Mudball,” is based on a tale of the shortest home run ever hit. The hit was 2 feet but it was lost in the mud and no one could find it as the hitter ran the bases.

“It probably never happened and was just a tale,” he said while explaining how he drew the baseball players in the mud with heavy rain coming down.

The Summer Reading Program concludes next week with a trip to Wilton Blueberry Farm, said leader Trish Flint. More information is available at the library.

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