Google shows off Ithaca College prof’s work

The Google homepage on Saturday will have a touch of the prairie thanks to an Ithaca College professor and in honor of what would be Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday.

Wilder, the author of “Little House on the Prairie”, will get the Google doodle treatment with a colorful needle-felted image made by Ithaca College professor of writing Jack Wang and his twin brother, Holman. A Google doodle is a stand-in for the usual logo used to honor and recognize significant people and occasions.

The Internet giant tapped the Wang brothers on the strength of their illustrating skills with a needle-felted technique they used in a series of books called “Cozy Classics.” The board books abridge 12 literary classics — such as “Moby Dick” and “War and Peace” — into age appropriate forms created with felt.

Google contacted Wang by e-mail saying they had an assignment for the illustrator and writer, but first the brothers had to agree to keep it a secret.

“Google encouraged us to keep the logo colorful, cheerful and legible,” Wang said in a statement. “We also discussed concepts with them, and we had room to create, which was nice.”

The brothers decided on an illustration featuring Laura and her sister Mary, both made famous by the series of books — and later the popular television series — about growing up in a pioneer family.

The Ithaca College’s professor felted the bodies for both figures, detailed and dressed Mary — seen on the right in the doodle — and built the model cabin seen in the background. The logo will appear all day Saturday on the homepage, and is already visible online for visitors searching from Australia.

“We’re happy to have our 15 minutes — or in this case, 24 hours — of fame. Hopefully it will make more people aware of our ongoing creative work,” Wang said.

The brothers will soon be releasing a new series of books based on the “Star Wars” film franchise. In March, Chronicle Books will publish “Star Wars Epic Yarns,” a trio of books containing classic scenes from the original film “A New Hope” and its sequels “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” all rendered in the felt format, according to Ithaca College.

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