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C:\fakepath\Gillian's book.JPG
The cover of Gillian Jones’ new book, “B is for Berkshires,”
features cows at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown.

Alumna publishes her first book

01/28/15

For some time, alumna Gillian Jones ’91 of North Adams had been thinking about putting together a book of her photographs, but between teaching courses at MCLA and her full-time job as a photo journalist for the Berkshire Eagle, she never quite found the occasion to pursue it.

“One of the things in the back of my mind that I thought would be a cool project was an alphabet book,” Jones explained. “It was on the back burner. I even had a folder on my computer with some possible photos, like ‘S is for Steeples.’”

C:\fakepath\Gillian crop.jpgThen last year, a phone call put her thoughts into action. Familiar with her work as a photographer for local newspapers, the publishers at Islandport Press in Yarmouth, Maine, wondered if she might be interested in providing the photographs for a children’s book, “B is for Berkshires.”

“When I got the call about this book, I was like, ‘Yes!’” Jones exclaimed. “It’s a dream to have this published.”

Following “A is for Acadia (Maine)” and “C is for Cape Cod,” “B is for Berkshires” is the third in a series of New England-themed alphabet books for children.

Although she is hard-pressed to pick a favorite photo, Jones is especially pleased that the includes photos of local residents.

“What’s really the most exciting are the photos of local kids. ‘A is for Adventure’ is a photograph of a girl from Williamstown, sliding down a hill at the Taconic Golf Course in the winter a couple years ago.”

 “Z is for Zip Line,” which highlights the Northern Berkshire Youth R.O.P.E.S. camp at Windsor Lake. It features a North Adams youth she’d photographed from time to time over the years.

Also, “S is for Syrup” features Robert Leab of the Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock, who is pictured near steaming vats of sap as he makes maple syrup.

At MCLA, Jones teaches “Introduction to Photography,” “Advanced Photography” and “Photo Journalism.” She also serves as an advisor to the student-run campus newspaper, The Beacon.

“It’s a book that would certainly appeal to MCLA alumni,” she said. “All of these places are meaningful. For example, for the past 10 to 15 years or so, students have climbed Mount Greylock.”

In addition to “G is for Greylock,” the book includes “F is for Foliage” and “H is for Hoosac Tunnel.”

Whether it’s “B is for Biking” on the Ashuwillticook Trail or “W is for Waterfall” at Bash Bish Falls in Sheffield, Jones’ love for the Berkshires is palpable, and it’s hard for her to pick a favorite photo.

“I love the cover. It was the first thing I did. And, the back cover is my bird feeder.  There’s a chipmunk with a mouthful of birdseed,” she laughed.

While the book is meant for children ages 3 through 10, Jones believes it also would make a great coffee table book that people who visit the area will want to take home with them.

“This is just the beginning,” Jones said. “I’m not sure what’s next, but I’d love to do more.”

“B is for Berkshires” is available for pre-order at: http://www.islandportpress.com/b-is-for-berkshires.html.