Reston A to Z illustrated by Jill Olinger Vinson and written by Watt Hamlet.

New Children’s Book Takes Readers on a Tour of “Reston A to Z”

Reston A to Z is a new children’s book about Reston, Virginia, written by local author Watt Hamlett and illustrated by Reston native Jill Olinger Vinson.

Reston A to Z takes young readers on a tour of America’s first modern planned community. The tour guide in the story is Robert E. “Bob” Squirrel, a delightful character who perhaps bears more than a passing resemblance to Reston’s beloved founder Robert E. Simon.  Told in whimsical rhyming verse, each stop on this alphabetical journey features Bob Squirrel interacting with photos of the places, activities, and nature that make Reston a treasure to kids of all ages.

Stops along the tour include Lake Anne Plaza, Reston Town Center, Reston Regional Library, Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, Walker Nature Center, Reston Farmer’s Market, and the W&OD Trail. The book also highlights features of Reston such as its lakes, pedestrian paths, swimming pools, community garden plots, and parks.

In addition to its use of an illustrated character interacting with real photographs (think Pokémon Go), the book features other creative touches like a hidden acorn on each page, a coloring page, and a travel log where kids can check off the places or things in the book they have experienced.

Watt Hamlett, the book’s author and photographer, has lived in Reston since 2000.  He was inspired to write this book out of his love for Reston that grew from exploring it over many years with his wife and two sons. He hopes the book serves as a tribute to Reston’s beauty, community spirit, and the vision of Reston’s founder Robert E. Simon.

Jill Olinger Vinson, the book’s illustrator, grew up in Reston and is a graduate of South Lakes High School. She returned as an adult to live in Reston with her husband, and her two sons were born in Reston. She now lives in neighboring Herndon, Virginia.

The author has partnered with the Reston Historic Trust to bring the book to market. The book is available for sale locally at the Reston Museum and for all copies purchased at the Museum, one hundred percent of the profits will go directly to Reston Historic Trust.

The book is also available for purchase online from Mascot Books,, and will be available at other local retailers and online at, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

Reston A to Z is published by Mascot Books in Herndon, Virginia. The book is hardcover with 36 full-color pages, and retails for $15.95. More information is available at

Photo credit: Susan Go Photography

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