Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

CLAIRE: THE LITTLE GIRL WHO CLIMBED TO THE TOP AND CHANGED THE WAY WOMEN DRESS written by Debra Scala Giokas and illustrated by Mary Ryan Reeves

Fashion Designer Claire McCardell to be Celebrated 

with a Children’s Book and a Bronze Statue


May 24, 2021, Sayville, NY –   What do Sayville, New York and Frederick, Maryland have in common? They both have residents who are celebrating Claire McCardell, the American designer who changed fashion culture. McCardell, who graced the cover of Time Magazine in 1955, brought modern American women sportswear, ballet flats, knit ski caps, hooded jerseys, and pockets.

On May 24th, which would have been McCardell’s 116th birthday, a picture book for children ages 6 through 10 will be available. Entitled, CLAIRE: THE LITTLE GIRL WHO CLIMBED TO THE TOP AND CHANGED THE WAY WOMEN DRESS, the pen and ink picture book illuminates the fashion icon’s story and will empower little girls.

Sayville resident Debra Scala Giokas, a member of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, first came across Claire McCardell’s name in 2018 after reading about an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Claire’s casual style and the idea of mixing and matching separates have influenced modern-day designers including Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, and Geoffrey Beene. Scala Giokas found Claire’s story inspiring and thought it should be told to girls.

She teamed up with illustrator Mary Ryan Reeves, who hails from Claire’s hometown of Frederick, Maryland. Reeves, an award-winning artist, and retired art educator is a member of the Frederick Art Club and also a graduate of Hood College where Claire attended for two years. They also added a companion coloring book called CLAIRE’S CLOSET.

“This became a labor of love,” said Scala Giokas, “Mary is the perfect illustrator to bring life to my words and to celebrate McCardell.” She added, “This is to encourage little girls to dream big. Of course, it’s for anyone who appreciates fashion.”

When asked about her illustration process, Ryan Reeves said, “At all times I thought about Claire’s dream of creating functionality in women’s clothing. I started seeing spools as bedposts and nighttime became the New York City skyline. I also relied on the shapes and patterns she used in her designs to give me inspiration.”

Frederick Art Club president Marilyn Bagel said, “McCardell will also be honored this fall with a 7.5’ bronze statue by award-winning sculptor Sarah Hempel Irani that will overlook Carroll Creek Linear Park, a world-class urban park in downtown Frederick. An accompanying wayside exhibit will tell the story of Claire’s extraordinary career.”

For further information on the statue, check out the Claire McCardell Project on the Frederick Art Club website at

Both the picture book and the coloring book, published by Chandelier Street, will be available on May 24th.

For further information about the books, contact Debra Scala Giokas,, and about the statue, Marilyn Bagel,