Corduroy Takes a Bow

Local illustrator celebrates 50 years of Corduroy bear

BALLSTON SPA — Illustrator and Ballston Spa native Jody Wheeler recently collaborated with actress Viola Davis to celebrate 50 years of America’s cherished bear, Corduroy.

Wheeler’s latest illustrated book, “Corduroy Takes a Bow” (Penguin Random House) is based on Don Freeman’s character Corduroy Bear. Working with Emmy, Tony and Academy Award-winning actress and author Viola Davis, Wheeler brings Corduroy back to center stage, where he charms readers of all ages with this heartfelt tale of enchantment and wonder.

This classically illustrated story promises to ignite children’s interest in theater and the arts. Davis draws upon her unique experiences in the theater to add pizzazz to this tale. Her storytelling allows Corduroy to engage and dazzle young readers and Wheeler’s illustrations bring this enchanting story to life.

Wheeler, who previously illustrated Corduroy classics such as “A Christmas Wish for Corduroy” and “Corduroy Lost and Found,” is a graduate of Ballston Spa High School. She has been honored with a distinguished alumni award for her contributions to literature.

“I still think there is magic in reading a book as a grade-schooler, or having a special person read you a picture book, with the slowly turning pages … that you both hear and see and feel,” Wheeler said. “That connection never gets old.”

“Corduroy Takes a Bow” has already received glowing reviews.

“Perhaps the book’s most valuable visual aspect is featuring people of color in all elements of the theater, from Lisa and her mother, to the orchestra pit, stage manager and actors . . . A sweet story that will have children clamoring to see a show, perhaps with their own bears,” according to Kirkus Reviews.

Throughout her career, Wheeler has illustrated more than 60 books, including the Nate the Great series, keepsake books, greeting cards and many licensed characters. She now splits her time between her hometown and Manhattan, and is available for book readings in bookstores, schools, libraries and other enrichment settings.


A full-time production editor and publications coordinator by day, I previously spent 10 years in community news as a reporter, editor and graphic designer. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from SUNY New Paltz and can't stay away from the excitement of local news. On a good day I can be found exploring conservation areas and hiking trails in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley.

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