December 10, 2014 - February 7, 2015. One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature. Curated by Chris Loker.
|December 10, 2014 –
February 7, 2015
One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature
Curated by Chris Loker
Powerful narrative, unforgettable characters, illustration that stirs the imagination, and insights that engage the mind and heart – literature for children is forged from the same enduring elements as
literature for adults. Children’s books with these qualities often shine for
generations, with some achieving landmark fame. A few such books ultimately go
on to enter the canon of classics of children’s literature.
The Grolier Club’s milestone public exhibition, One Hundred
Books Famous in Children's Literature, showcases one hundred books of
this caliber, printed from 1600 to 2000. On view from December 10,
2014 through February 7, 2015, the show includes such beloved books as Robinson
Crusoe, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer,
Treasure Island, Peter Rabbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan,
Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things
Are, and Harry Potter. These
classics and others—many famous today, some only in their time—will
bring smiles of enjoyment to adults and children alike.
The curator and children’s book
authority Chris Loker has secured loans from major institutions throughout North
America for this exhibition. Among them are the American Antiquarian Society; Beinecke Rare Book &
Manuscript Library, Yale University; Cotsen Children's Library, Princeton
University; Houghton Library, Harvard University; The Morgan Library &
Museum; as well as numerous distinguished private collections.
The books are
displayed according to key themes in children’s literature: Fairy Tales
& Fables, Faith, Learning, Nursery Rhymes, Poetry, Girls & Boys,
Animals, Fantasy, Adventure, Novelties, and Toys. This organization allows
viewers to see genres of literature for children ranging from early forms of
instructional and devotional primers to exuberant expressions of rhymes, tales,
stories, novels, and picture books.
First or early editions are displayed wherever possible, some of them
The oldest book in the exhibition, Orbis Pictus, published
in Nuremberg in 1658, is a bilingual schoolbook in simple
encyclopedic form for young students of Latin (the text is in both Latin and
German.) Used for two centuries throughout Europe, it is an early effort
at integrated text and pictures, and thus shows a pivotal step in the
development of the illustrated book for children.
The New-England Primer is one of only two extant copies printed in 1727 (the earliest
known surviving edition.) In print for over 200 years, this was the first
reader for many young Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries, and thus one of
the most frequently read books in the United States.
Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (Vol.
2), published in London
in 1744, is an exceptionally important book, although not well known today. It
is the first known collection of English nursery rhymes, gathering together
the earliest recorded versions of ditties crooned to babies such as "Sing
a Song of Sixpence," "Hickory, Dickory, Dock" (here titled
"The Mouse ran up ye clock"), "Mary Mary Quite Contrary,"
"Baa Baa Black Sheep," and "Cock Robin," among
Songs of Innocence, written, illustrated and
published by William Blake in London in 1789, contains his short lyric poems
for children. It is the third in Blake's series of illuminated books—the
earliest examples of artist's books. Created by this 18th century British
visionary, poet, author, painter, illustrator, printer and engraver, this copy
is one of fewer than forty manuscript copies made, has never
been out of print, and is an artistic masterpiece.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll [pseudonym for Charles
Lutwidge Dodgson], illustrated by John Tenniel, and published in London in
1865, is from the first edition that the author
withdrew and suppressed. However, 50 copies from that edition had already
been distributed, and today only a few more than 20 of those are
known to reside in private or institutional collections. This
particular copy is both unique and remarkable as Lewis Carroll edited it
by hand in his trademark purple ink in preparation for his publication of The
Nursery "Alice." An unprecedented work of fantasy, enriched with wordplay,
nonsense verse and a deep vein of mathematical and logical puzzling, this landmark book invites interpretations on multiple levels, and since
publication has never ceased to fascinate children and adults around the world.
The first half of the 20th century saw the explosion of ground-breaking
picture books that presented color-saturated illustrations entwined with
enticing worlds: Velveteen Rabbit, Millions of Cats, The Story of
Babar, Story of Ferdinand, Madeline, Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, Le
Petit Prince, Eloise, and perhaps the most colorful of all, Goodnight
Moon. In the second half of the 20th century there are equally
glorious picture books that celebrate color, texture and message: The
Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungary
Caterpillar. Where the Wild Things Are, written and
illustrated by Maurice Sendak, was published in New York in 1963. A
landmark artistic accomplishment, this picture book is beloved throughout the
world by children for its vivid illustration and compelling story of Max, the
boy who sails to an island inhabited by Wild Things. Sendak’s integration
of pictures and text widened the path for the modern author /
illustrator. His obituary in the New York Times described him as
"widely considered [to be] the most important children's book artist of
the 20th century."
Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, published in London in 1997, is
the most contemporary book in the exhibition. The first of J. K.
Rowling's seven fantasy novels, it is a tale full of magical realism about
three young friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This
book is from the initial print run of just 300 copies, all of which went
first to public libraries. In terms of fame, the Harry Potter books
unleashed an unprecedented publishing phenomenon, and have been printed in over
70 languages, making devoted readers out of millions of children and adults
Displayed along with these one
hundred books are over 50 historic artifacts that demonstrate
the interrelationships between these famous books and the culture of
their era, including original book art and illustration, autograph
letters, manuscript drafts, antique toys, early dolls and games, antique
horn books, ivory alphabet discs and other children's objects, all of
great interest in their own right.
One Hundred Books Famous in
Children's Literature is the sixth in the series known as the Grolier
Hundreds. The Grolier Club has previously organized
only five such exhibitions in its 130-year history, focusing on English literature
(1903), American literature (1946), science (1958), medicine
(1994) and fine printed books (1999). These admired exhibitions and their catalogues have
set the standard for book collecting and reading enjoyment in their fields, and
the organizers expect no less from this new addition to the Grolier Hundred
Maurice Sendak, famed author of Where
The Wild Things Are, believed, “You cannot write for children.
They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to
them.” This concept—that on its way to becoming famous a book needs first and
foremost to be of interest to children—underlies the choice of books
represented in this exhibition. The Grolier Club believes that the books
presented in this historic show will long remain a source of
interest, and of joy and wonder, to children of all ages.
Accompanying the exhibition is a
320-page, hardbound catalogue with color photographs of all one hundred famous
children’s books plus four scholarly essays, available for purchase at The
Grolier Club and through Oak Knoll Books (http//www.oakknoll.com),
exclusive distributors of Grolier Club publications.
The exhibition and catalogue have
been made possible in part by the generous support of Bring Me A Book
Foundation, Mountain View, California; Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation, New
York; Furthermore Grants in Publishing, A Program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, New
York; and Pine Tree Foundation of New York.
A Colloquium, “Journeys Through
Bookland: Explorations in Children’s Literature,” takes place Tuesday,
January 20, 2015 from 1-5 pm, with a cocktail reception to follow. This
colloquium brings together six children’s literary experts who will lead
participants through highlights in the past,
present and future of the book for children.
CURATOR’S TOURS OF THE EXHIBITION:
10, 2014, 1-2 pm
11, 2014, 1-2 pm
3, 2015, 1-2 pm
4, 1-2 pm
VISITING THE GROLIER CLUB:
The Grolier Club, founded in 1884, is
America’s oldest bibliophile
society, with a mission to foster appreciation for the art, history and
production of the book
and graphic arts.
47 East 60th Street
Between Park and Madison Avenues
New York, NY 10022
Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 5
Exhibitions are open to
the public free of charge
For further information please
Jennifer Sheehan, Grolier Club
Susan Flamm, PR Consultant to The
Curator Chris Loker is available for
interviews and tours of the exhibition.
Please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Grolier Club at 212-838-6690.