A book about war and peace doesn't need to be hundreds of pages long.
A Bench in London: The Story of an American Soldier covers both topics well, but is a short, colorful children's book published earlier this year by Chevy Chase resident Carolyn Feigenbaum, illustrated by Chevy Chase native Jordan Cutler and edited by Chevy Chase resident Deborah Kalb.
The book tells the story of an American soldier—Feigenbaum's uncle—who was stationed in London during World War II. The soldier—Zelig Oldeschool—was "a Yank who loved London, particularly the environs of Berkeley Square." When Oldeschool was off-duty, he often visited the square in London's Mayfair district.
After the war, Oldeschool—who had enjoyed taking his nephews and nieces, including Feigenbaum, to the Chicago Zoo before World War II, often spoke of the peaceful park. After his death in the 1990s, his wife purchased a bench in his name in the park.
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Feigenbaum, who has lived in The Village of Chevy Chase Section 5 for over 40 years, also addresses in the book the hardships of war and the importance of parks to the urban environment.
It was the first children's book project for Cutler, who grew up in Chevy Chase and who has his own freelance graphic design business in Washington, DC.
To develop the illustrations, Cutler started "with pencil drawings scanned into the computer, then [used] Adobe Illustrator to create the finished artwork ... [which] is drawn with a [computer] mouse."
The illustrations of the children in the book were based on photos of Feigenbaum's grandchildren. Feigenbaum's photos of Berkeley Square also guided Cutler in the development of the illustrations.
"The park has some really unique details, such as the planters and plane trees, so having the photos was very helpful," said Cutler, who was also inspired by vintage children's book illustrations.