June 27, 1998 American Children's Books on Display at Library
Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
A small exhibition of 20th century American children's books opens in the foyer of the Library's Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. on June 25; it will remain on view through January 2, 1999. Hours for the exhibition are 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
"From Sea to Shining Sea - An American Sampler: Children's Books from the Library of Congress" draws on the Library's collections to provide glimpses of American life, from the exploration of the land to the exploration of space. Selected for their representation of different graphic styles, formats and content, the books in the exhibition range from picture books for the very young to classic folktales to historical stories for children.
The exhibition is divided into four sections: "The Land," "The Community," "America at Play" and "Tell Me a Story." Familiar and not-so-familiar titles are included in the four sections of "From Sea to Shining Sea." The Trees Stand Shining: Poetry of the North American Indians, selected by Hettie Jones (Dial, 1971) gives one view of "The Land," while Robert McCloskey's Time of Wonder (Viking Press, 1957), with its nostalgic paintings of idyllic summer days spent on an island off the coast of Maine, gives another.
"The Community" section offers a kind of cross section of the ordinary lives of Americans, from county fairs to baseball games to the circus, with a selection of books that includes Tractor Trouble: A Pop-Up Book by Steve Augarde and Mathew Price (Orion Children's Books, 1996); Bright April, by Marguerite De Angeli (Doubleday Junior Books, 1946), which focuses on a child growing up in Germantown, Pa., during World War II; The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking, 1962), which captures a child's delight in a winter's day; and Bernard Waber's Lovable Lyle (Houghton Mifflin, 1969), with more tales of the adventures of Lyle the crocodile.
Books such as Mickey Mouse's Friends Wait for the County Fair: A Walt Disney Picture Book (Whitman, 1937), The Jazz Man by Mary Hays Weik (Athenaeum, 1996), Humphrey the Dancing Pig by Arthur Getz (Dial, 1980) and Max by Rachel Isadora (Greenwillow Books, 1979), about a boy who joins his sister's ballet class while killing time before baseball practice, illustrate the section called "America at Play."
The final section, "Tell Me a Story," is a sampling of classics handed down from parent to child that have become a part of American popular culture. Such familiar titles as Little Women, Red Riding Hood, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Little Engine That Could, and Where the Wild Things Are can be found here.
The collections of the Library of Congress include some 200,000 children's books, which have been acquired through copyright deposit, exchange, purchase and gift. They include stories, poetry, nonfiction, movable books and books in electronic formats.
The Library's Children's Literature Center, founded in 1963, is an advocate for the study and use of children's books and provides information to members of Congress, children's book specialists, and members of the general public.
The exhibition, which was organized by the Children's Literature Center, was made possible by a generous grant from the Ahmanson Foundation with additional support from Lloyd E. Cotsen.