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For Immediate Release:

Brandywine River Museum "Critters" Come Alive In New Children's Christmas Book

CHADDS FORD, PA --August 17, 2012 Teasel & Twigs: 'Tis a Critter Christmas Tale is the delightful story of Brandywine River Museum "critters" who come to life at night. On the eve of the annual Children's Christmas party, the critters scurry through the Museum trying to find Roger the Reindeer's lost berry nose. On their adventure, they pass by iconic paintings and familiar A Brandywine Christmas scenes--the famous O-gauge train layout, Andrew Wyeths' Snow Hill, Jamie Wyeth's Portrait of Pig, the critter angel tree and the critter-filled Noah's Ark.

Written by first time author Paige Singer, Teasel and Twigs is a tribute to Singer's grandmother, the late Elizabeth "Libby" Dean. Along with Anne Scarlett, Libby Dean created the first critters in the early 70s. Their efforts helped to bring national recognition to the Brandywine River Museum's annual holiday display. Singer, who grew up in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, now lives in Arizona. Lamenting the fact that her children are unable to experience the Museum as she did during her childhood, she wrote the book as a way "to connect them to her grandmother's creative world and the community of my childhood." Her goal was to "write a poem that would bring to life her art, her critters."

Artist Robert Dionne, who studied illustration and fine art at The Art Institute of Boston, has long been inspired by the "Golden Age of Illustration" specifically, the work of Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth. He works on painting commissions for private collectors and has a decorative arts painting company. Dionne enjoyed the experience of illustrating Teasel & Twigs, saying, "It was an honor and joy bringing the critters to life and celebrating Christmas with them every day in the studio."

Critters are ornaments made using materials found in nature, such as teasel, twigs, pinecones, dried flowers, berries and leaves. In 1984, the critters decorated the main Christmas tree in the Reagan White House and their dining room table. More than 3,000 ornamentswere crafted for this project. The dining room table display--Santa and his reindeer--are now part of the Smithsonian collections.

Currently, 130 volunteers work year-round to make nearly 10,000 critters each year. Total net sales passed the $1 million mark last year. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Volunteers' Art Purchase Fund, which has added more than 200 paintings, drawings and prints to the Museum's holdings since 1975. The annual Critter Sale takes place the first weekend of December and after the sale critters are available in the Museum Shop.

There will be a book signing with Paige Singer and Rob Dionne during the weekend Critter Sale on Saturday, December 1 from 10 a.m. to noon. Teasel & Twigs: 'Tis a Critter Christmas Tale ($20) will be available exclusively in the Museum Shop and online at

The Museum's A Brandywine Christmas, November 23, 2012 through January 6, 2013, celebrates the season with fabulous holiday displays including an extensive O-gauge model railroad and thousands of whimsical critter ornaments on holiday trees. The Museum will remain open until 6 p.m. December 26 - 30.

The Brandywine River Museum is located on U.S. Route 1 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The museum is open daily, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for Christmas Day. Admission costs $12, adults; $8, seniors age 65 and over; $6, students and children ages 6-12; free for children under age 6 and Brandywine Conservancy members. For more information, call 610-388-2700 or visit the Museum's website

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