Why Children’s Books Matter

The exquisite exhibition celebrating children’s literature at the New York Public Library is the cause of many excited cries from the young and the older lovers of classic tales. Curated with the joy of storytelling itself, the exhibition displays not only books, but original illustrations, actual manuscripts and the inspiration behind many of our favorite characters. The Wild Things, Pooh Bear and all the gorgeous irreverence of Dr Zeuss take center stage. There is the wooden doll which served as a model for Mary Poppins ( although perhaps not for Julie Andrews! ), the original manuscript from The Secret Garden, illustrations from The Wizard of Oz and the drawings of Little Toot, as watercolorist Hardie Gramatky doodled and daydreamed in his studio looking out over the East River.

The stories behind the stories are always the best, like discovering that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz grew out of a father’s desire to distract and entertain his children ( which took him from a door-to-door salesman to a Broadway legend ), or that Frances Hodgson Burnett wanted more happiness in the world, so wrote A Secret Garden as a premise for hope – ‘When you have a garden, you have a future’….

One of the most loved residents of the Library, Winnie the Pooh – the original Pooh Bear and a present from the author’s publisher to the library, was on display with Eeyore and Piglet. In the midst of the much loved toys was a photograph of A. A. Milne with his son, the boy that inspired Christopher Robin. A woman stood in front of the cabinet in misty disbelief that she was looking at the real thing. Perhaps her father – like mine – had made up magical stories for her that were better than any others, they were the gift of imagination, and she still believed that ‘in that enchanted place on the top of the forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing…’ 

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8 Responses to Why Children’s Books Matter

  1. Dallas Colley says:

    How wonderful, thank you Gabrielle for glimpse of much loved characters and your narrative.
    Hearts to you

  2. Laura Currie says:

    My Mum and I were in NY a couple of weeks ago (visiting from Melbourne) and stumbled across this exhibition by chance. It was one of the best mornings we had. Awesome memories triggered looking through the displays.

  3. Jenny says:

    We loved that exhibition, especially finding out about Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag and the section about NYC in children’s books. It was also great to see the real Winnie the Pooh toys….thanks for those wonderful photos.

  4. Tess says:

    Thanks for this Gabrielle … just another reason for me and my husband to visit New York when we can! I feel like I’m living it vicariously through YOU. I hope you don’t mind if I share some of this on my blog with your link? Tess

  5. Pingback: New York! New York! I Love You … | Life with Tess

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