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In the early 1940s, a loving father crafted a small blue wooden engine for his son, Christopher. The stories that this father, Reverend W. Awdry, made up to accompany this wonderful toy were first published in 1945. He continued to create new adventures and characters until 1972, when he retired from writing. Reverend Awdry died in 1997 at the age of 85. Jim Durk, illustrator of several beloved children's books series ranging from Thomas & Friends and The Powerpuff Girls to Clifford the Big Red Dog and The Rugrats, graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in illustration/painting in 1983. His works include Bear's House, Brave Little Engines, and Call of the Wild. He is the founder of Durk Illustration, and he lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio.