This week I visited two interesting exhibits. Well, they were of interest to a Children’s Librarian, certainly.
The first exhibit was called Pop-ups from Prague,A Centennial Celebration of the Graphic Artistry of Vojtech Kubašta (1914-1992) at The Grolier Club on East 60th Street. The exhibition showcases the full range of artwork by this major Czech paper engineer, children’s book illustrator, and graphic designer. Culled from the collection of Ellen Rubin (aka The Pop-Up Lady) many of these pop-up creations took us through history, showing us Sputnik, the Prague uprising and Mozart! The collector gave an hour long talk about the history of pop-ups and this artist in particular. On a personal note, I found some of his work charming, but it didn’t move me like the work of current US artist, Robert Sabuda.
Next, I moseyed down Fifth Avenue to an exhibit at the main New York Public Library branch, The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.
This was a well done and visually appealing examination of why children’s books are important: what and how they teach children, and what they reveal about the societies that produced them. I followed a docent tour with an intelligent volunteer. It was just me and a lovely Dutch educator and the three of us enjoyed the show together. Charlotte’s Web had an entire wall, as did Ferdinand The Bull. And, as you can see from the photographs I have included, Good Night Moon had a full wall.
I also appreciated the displays about Anne Carroll Moore, who headed children’s library services for the New York Public Library system from 1906 to 1941. She was an important influence on all children’s librarians and libraries and we are most grateful to her. Moore developed a set of standards that she called “The Four Respects”:
1. Respect for children. She wanted children to be treated as individuals and to be treated seriously.
2. Respect for children’s books. Moore was adamant that books for children should be well written, factually accurate and should not mix fact and fantasy.
3. Respect for fellow workers. She insisted that the children’s library be viewed as an integral and equal part of the complete library.
4. Respect for the professional standing of children’s librarians. Moore felt that the profession must recognize children’s librarianship as a professional specialty.
Another display featured Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the NYPL who pioneered the library’s outreach within the Puerto Rican community. She was an active advocate for the Spanish-speaking community by instituting bilingual story hours, buying Spanish language books, and implementing programs based on traditional holidays.
The history of children’s literature was illustrated with examples of different styles of books. Dick and Jane was right next to The Cat in The Hat. These examples of children’s readers showed how attitudes about children’s development and education change through time.
I also enjoyed the tribute to Maurice Sendak’s work and Alice in Wonderland.
If you get a chance, stop by the NYPL for this exhibit. It’s educational and fun!