Day Trips: Storybook Capital of Texas, Abilene

Whimsical sculptures of children's book characters enliven downtown Abilene

Photos by Gerald McLeod

The Storybook Sculpture Project in downtown Abilene is the largest collection of public sculptures depicting characters from children's books in the U.S. and maybe the world. The art project began in 1996 with Childhood's Great Adventure, a bronze depiction of characters popping out of a book. The piece was inspired by William Joyce's book Santa Calls, which was set in Abilene.

Since then, another 17 whimsical sculptures have been added within a few blocks of one another. Some are attached to buildings, while others are easily found on the sidewalks. The most popular statues are the six Dr. Seuss characters in a shaded park next to the railroad tracks. Once you see all of the sculptures it is hard not to come away with a smile, especially after seeing Duck on a Bike. The Texas Legislature was so impressed with the community art collection that it named Abilene the Storybook Capital of Texas in 2015.

Start a tour of the Storybook Sculpture Garden at the visitor center in the T&P Depot at 1101 N. First St. for a map. Guides can also be downloaded from Don't miss the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature across the street from the depot. The free gallery displays original art from children's books.

Abilene could also be called the book festival capital of Texas. The town hosts the West Texas Book Festival (Sept. 19-24) and the Children's Art & Literacy Festival in June.

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Storybook Sculpture Project, Abilene, West Texas Book Festival

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