Sean Clarity, inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit
Heads up San Francisco book-lovers! There’s a cool exhibit opening this Friday, May 1 at Gallery 1988 (1173 Sutter St., at Polk). It’s called “Beyond the Page: Re-Illustrating Our Favorite Children’s Books,” and if you couldn’t tell from the title of the exhibit, it features original illustrations of characters and scenes from favorite children’s books. Some of the books you’ll see new art for: Bridge to Terabithia, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Velveteen Rabbit, Calvin and Hobbes, and Snow White.
The show is free, but the gallery asks visitors to bring a new children’s book. They’ll be donated to the San Francisco Unified School District. The show lasts May 1-21, 2009, and the opening reception is Friday May 1, 7-10pm.
Check out preview images (including the one above) on the Gallery 1988 blog.
Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has been awarded the John Newbery Medal, an award bestowed on an author for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. I’m always looking for great children’s books to give to my favorite 9-year-old, and this one (which has been on the NY Times Bestseller List for months) really caught my eye, as it’s about a boy that lives in a graveyard and who is raised by ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery inhabitants. I read and liked Gaiman’s Stardust (his writings are not at all limited to children’s literature–see his bio here) so I can’t wait to check this one out.
I’m babysitting a very cool 9-year-old for a few days, which has gotten me thinking about books I loved when I was younger. I read a LOT as a kid, but The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (and illustrated by Jules Feiffer) was one of my absolute favorites. This year I recommended it to the same 9-year-old and she could not put it down, so it definitely continues to stand the test of time. With so many new books coming out each year, it’s easy to forget about the great books that are already out there. I don’t worry too much about this usually, because I know I can always come back to the classics next year, or 10 years down the road for that matter. But with children’s literature it’s harder since 5 years can make for a completely different read of the book. There’s only a short window for a children’s book to have that amazing impression.
Anyway, back to The Phantom Tollbooth. The story is about oh-so-bored Milo, a young boy who comes home one day to find a mysterious package. Once he assembles the tollbooth inside, he’s off to a fantasy world that toys around with word play and logic, finding places and people that are literal interpretations of ideas or common phrases. Along his way he travels to the Doldrums, Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, the twin towns of Reality and Illusions, the Mountains of Ignorance, and a Castle-in-the-Air, and meets entertaining and utterly unique characters like the watchdog called Tock, a “Not-So-Wicked Which,” a boy who hovers in the air at his final height and grows toward the ground, the Whether Man, a Spelling Bee, and the Half Boy (who is the .58 person of the average 2.58 person family). It’s really fun to read and really hard to put down. If you’re scratching your head about a gift for a 4th-grader, this is a sure bet.