6.22.2013

Bedtime with Puritans and Wild Things: An Exhibition Review of the New York Public Library's show THE ABC OF IT: WHY CHILDREN'S BOOKS MATTER by Edward Rothstein

All photo credits Credit: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times 

Bedtime with Puritans and Wild Things, an exhibition review written by Edward Rothstein, ran in the New York Times yesterday. The exhibition, The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter, opens at the New York Public Library next week and I would give anything to be able to see it since it seems like the closest you can get to actually wandering through a beloved book. The show is curated by Leonard S. Marcus, preeminent children's book historian, critic and author and it is expansive. Rothstein notes that the almost 250 books and artifacts, some from the early 1700s, are "intelligently woven together" by Marcus. Rothstein's article makes interesting connections between the historical, Romantic presentations of the vision of childhood, which makes up the first part of the exhibition, and the second part, which begins in the great green room of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, with a display that shows how this landmark book is linked to the "progressive" idea of the child in the decades after 1900 and how it deeply influenced all that came after.

However, I think that this criticism of Rothstein's is telling:

And if I can complain about one aspect of this fine exhibition, it would be that despite its plenty, this factor is omitted. The relationship between the adult and the child is part of the reading experience; in many cases, it is echoed and toyed with inside the books themselves.

It would have been lovely to see this relationship, this connection, honored as well.

And, if you are  huge fan of kid's books, don't forget the The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.


The original toys that inspired AA Milne

Authors share memories of going to the library as children


A model of the toy car from The Phantom Tollbooth


Maurice Sendak's drawings for Ruth Krauss's 
A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions


This is where the Wild Things Are...


Illustrated pages from William Blake's
 "Songs of Innocence"

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