One April in Boston

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of One April in Boston

The story behind the children’s book that teaches Paul Revere’s Ride and goal setting for kids

Author Ben Edwards and illustrator Cortney Skinner met in 1998 at the Paul Revere House in Boston, where Cortney was cutting authentic 18th-century style silhouettes for the public. At that time, Ben was doing research for a children’s book that would tell the story of his family’s connection to Paul Revere. Cortney eventually made some silhouettes for Ben’s book, and his assignment soon expanded to pen and ink illustrations to support the text, and an oil painting for the book’s cover. Ben’s book idea had grown beyond the American Revolution to include connections to the Civil War and an ancestor who made the supreme sacrifice in World War I. The book tells the real story of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and teaches children the value of goal setting.

The first edition of One April in Boston: The Gift of the Spyglass was released in the fall of 2000. Fifteen years later, Cortney created an additional 27 original pen and ink drawings for the second edition of the book to supplement the 20 he produced for the first edition. In 2020, One April in Boston celebrates its 20th anniversary. In this blog, Ben and Cortney share the stories behind his illustrations, give the reader insight into his artistic process, and introduce plans for the new artwork Walking Boston and Spyglass Books, LLC have commissioned to mark the book’s 20th anniversary.

Accurately Illustrating the Midnight Ride

Our picture of history changes as our research improves—here’s how that impacted One April in Boston and The Midnight Ride Artwork Project

by Cortney Skinner | 02.19.21
When Ben Edwards commissioned me to create 20 pen and ink illustrations for his children’s book One April in Boston in 1999, the challenge was to make these illustrations as historically accurate as possible. […] Read More

Honoring My Ancestors in Stone

Replacing the marker for the Edwards family tomb at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground with the aid of the John Stevens Shop of Newport, Rhode Island

by Ben Edwards | 02.13.20
Established in 1659, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston’s North End is the city’s second-oldest burying ground. Originally called North Burying Ground, it is named after 17th-century shoemaker William Copp […] Read More

Making Pictures with Tiny Lines

Drawing in pen and ink is a matter of creating an illusion—it’s a collaboration between artist and viewer

by Cortney Skinner | 02.06.20
In my previous blog post on pen and ink, I covered the basics of the tools an artist uses. In this post, I’ll be talking about how lines are used to create the illusion of reality in a picture. […] Read More

Family Tales of a Connection to Paul Revere

Stories I heard as a child sparked an interest in genealogy and inspired me to write One April In Boston

by Ben Edwards | 01.31.20
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for history. I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and in grade school collected stamps and coins. Anything with a connection to the past fascinated me. […] Read More

The Challenges of Pen and Ink Illustration

Creating the illustrations for the first edition of One April in Boston

by Cortney Skinner | 01.28.20
Before Ben Edwards approached me in 1999 with the project of doing pen and ink illustrations for One April in Boston, most of my commissioned illustrations had been paintings. […] Read More

No Artist is an Island

We are all artists of our own lives, we are all connected, and we all collaborate in this existence

by Cortney Skinner | 01.22.20
Folks working in the arts never work alone. Though they may solo at the easel, keyboard, notepad, etc., from the moment they pick up that first instrument or tool, they’re working in conjunction […] Read More

The Two Nautical Instruments in North Square

Recently installed public art gives visitors a glimpse of Boston’s past and draws inspiration from the children’s book One April in Boston

by Ben Edwards | 01.17.20
In colonial Boston, the North End was home to mariners and sea captains, one of whom was my sixth-great- grandfather, Captain Benjamin Edwards […] Read More

Seeing the Future—A Gift We All Possess

Setting goals can help turn our visions for the future into reality—but only if we have the courage to take action each day and never quit

by Ben Edwards and Cortney Skinner | 01.14.20
Can we see into the future? Each of us has a concern for what lies ahead. We work hard in the present to bring about a better future […] Read More

My Journey—Student to Working Illustrator

A career with twists and turns that always circled back to a fascination with and a love for history

by Cortney Skinner | 01.06.20
Completing the illustration course at the Art Institute of Boston did not endow me with a degree of any kind, but it did give me the basics in commercial art production […] Read More

Howard Pyle Was My Great-Grand Teacher

The art of Illustration is a skill passed down directly or indirectly from illustrators of the past

by Cortney Skinner | 01.03.20
Illustrators are pictorial storytellers. In order to do their work, they also have to be highly imaginative, observant and absorbent human beings who take in all sorts of influences around them […] Read More

Making Silhouettes for One April in Boston

Profile Shades—An ancient art brought into the present

by Cortney Skinner | 12.16.19
When I was first approached in 1999 by Ben Edwards to do some illustrations for his upcoming book, One April in Boston, I was asked to create several silhouettes to portray his 18th-century Boston ancestors, since there were no surviving likenesses of them. […] Read More

My Journey – Student to Working Illustrator

Creating the Cover Art for One April in Boston

Traditional vs. Digital Painting—How my methods have evolved over the past two decades

by Cortney Skinner | 12.11.19
It was about 20 years ago when Ben Edwards commissioned me to create some silhouettes, pen and ink interior illustrations, and a full-color cover painting for his new book, One April in Boston. […] Read More

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Direct from the Author
Paul Revere House - Boston

About This Blog

The Spyglass Blog was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the children’s book One April in Boston. Here the author and illustrator share the stories behind the illustrations, give insight into the artistic process, and introduce related artwork Ben Edwards shares on his Walking Boston private tour.


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Boston’s only private guided walking tour with a children’s book author and relative of Paul Revere. Details below.

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