Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, June 7, 2013

For The Children

One of the most fascinating aspects of becoming a teacher librarian is the history of libraries, librarians and librarianship required classes.  To not only trace how information was stored and shared but to learn who had access at any given point in time, makes you grateful for the services available today.  It also makes you proud to be a part of a greater whole which has added and continues to add much to the local and global community.

Given the opportunities today for children in public (and school) libraries, it's hard to comprehend a time when they were not allowed in libraries.  There were no reading materials for them nor a special area set aside for their enjoyment.  Miss Moore Thought Otherwise:  How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) written by Jan Pinborough with illustrations by Debby Atwell highlights the life of this woman who was determined to live her life on her own terms.

Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl named Annie Carroll Moore.  She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own.

In the 1870s when Annie was born and growing up, it was expected women, like children, should, more or less, be seen and not heard.  Madcap rides in carriages and on toboggans were more to Annie's liking than stitchery.  Despite children not being allowed in libraries, she developed a love of reading.

Instead of choosing a normal path for unmarried women at nineteen, Annie decided to study law like her father.  Due to a family tragedy her plans were set aside for some years.  Exciting news changed her plans again; libraries were hiring women as librarians!

Annie become a librarian at the Pratt Free Library after graduating from the Pratt Institute library school located in Brooklyn, New York.  Annie's library brought her recognition because of a special room designated for children.  Soon Dr. Bostwick requested her to oversee all the children's areas in every single one of the branches of the New York Public Library.

She developed a pledge for children; their signature in a book in exchange for library privileges.  Silence signs were removed.  New appealing titles replaced outdated dusty tomes.  Annie Carroll Moore worked tirelessly to ensure parents, teachers and librarians knew about and had access to the best children's literature available.

In the spring of 1911 with the dedication of the new New York Public Library the work of Annie was apparent in the creation of the Central Children's Room; the architecture, decor and materials welcomed children of all ages and backgrounds. Over the years despite what was going on in the outside world, in this room, programs and people provided a haven for the children.  Children never knew when Miss Moore might bring out Nicholas Knickerbocker, a wooden doll, to entertain and speak with them.  Even at the age of seventy after retirement, traveling across the United States, she continued to encourage others to provide outstanding services for children in their public libraries.

Debut children's book author Jan Pinborough has created an informative and lively look at the life of Anne Carroll Moore, a champion for children in the world of libraries.  Pinborough's thorough research not only focuses on Miss Moore's lifetime accomplishments but gives readers insight into her resolute personality; reading in the attic on rainy afternoons, going to her father's law office to learn, traveling to New York City alone to study, having special furniture made for the Central Children's Room, and extending her ideas about a place for children in libraries to other countries.  With the repetition of the phrase Annie thought otherwise readers develop admiration for this woman; we feel like cheering for her successes.

Acrylic paintings by Debby Atwell with their distinctive folk art quality pair perfectly with the narrative giving readers a window into another time and place.  Her bright full-color palette and spirited illustrations begin on the matching jacket and cover.  On the front we see Annie Carroll Moore tall and proud in front of the New York Public Library, children on either side of her and on the back Annie standing beside one of the library lions, hat in hand, another hand on the lion with the lion's eye looking at her.

Her choice in picture size and placement is a reflection of the text it enhances.  The opening and closing pages illuminate the text with framing showcasing flowers, birds and trees native to the season opposite a full page picture.  Atwell elects to use two pages, single pages, pages crossing the gutter creating a column for the text, and oval insets, all complimenting the ebb and flow of the writing.  One of my favorite illustrations shows Miss Moore in her car, suitcases stacked on top, the roadway filled with the text winding through cities and towns in our country.

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children written by Jan Pinborough with paintings by Debby Atwell is a pleasing picture book biography, making Anne Carroll Moore's dreams, goals and achievements accessible to those for whom she dedicated all---children, libraries and access to the very best literature.  At the conclusion of the book are two pages titled More About Miss Moore which also notes others in the field working for children.  It is followed by a page of sources.

Please follow the links to the author, illustrator and book websites embedded in each of the names above.  This title has received a nomination for the Amelia Bloomer Project.

Yesterday I was invited to a fifth grade classroom to do extra booktalks to fire the students up for summer reading.  To my surprise I was presented with a copy of this book signed by all the students and their teacher, Mrs. Carol Madison.  I would love to post it here for you to see but many of the students gave their first and last names.  There is no greater treasure than books and the love of reading especially when you can pass it on and share it with others.

No comments:

Post a Comment