Origami How-To: 3 Videos to Get Started

By Kat Kan, MLS

Many people are going stir-crazy these days, so I thought now was a good time to share a few of my origami videos. Feel free to share these tutorials far and wide—and don’t forget to try some origami, yourself!

I have been folding origami since I was like eight years old. I started with origami paper, and when we moved back from Japan to the United States, I actually started using notebook paper from school. You can easily adapt notebook paper, wrapping paper, and others to make origami paper squares, even if you don’t have any at home.

No scissors? No problem! Just fold a piece of paper back and forth along the same edge until the paper weakens. Then, carefully tear in a straight line (It’s easier than it sounds!).

In the first video, I’ll show you how to build three things out of the same piece of paper: a house, a piano, and a fox. Let’s get started.


The traditional paper crane is called the orizuru. This was the very first thing I ever folded. I’m amazed that I did it! But I loved it so much that, of all the different origami that my grandmother taught me, this is still my favorite one. We’ll also be making a flapping bird toy.

In Japan, in the Shinto religion, each time you fold a paper crane, you’re praying. The idea is that if you can succeed in folding 1,000 cranes, your prayer will come true. I also share the true story of a little girl named Sadako Sasaki and the legacy she inspired. Do you have your paper ready?


“Trash Origami” is a really fun book with a lot of different kinds of ideas. We’re going to look at how to make two things from this book: a Jumping Frog and the Crown & Towers Game. That way once you’ve made your frog and your crowns, you can play a fun game with them.


Videos originally posted by Northwest Regional Library System, Florida.

If you’re looking for a graphic novel guru, you’re looking for Kat Kan. Kat looks like the stereotypical librarian with glasses and a bun, until you see the hair sticks and notice her earrings may be tiny books, TARDISes from Doctor Who, or LEGO Batgirls. Click here for more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

By Nerissa Moran, Spanish Language Selector

I identify as Anglo-American, but have always enjoyed working with Spanish-speaking librarians. I’ve always been fascinated by celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month at the public libraries where I’ve helped with collection development, searching out titles appropriate for their patrons—especially at the annual book fairs in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of people living in the U.S. whose ancestry can be traced back to Spain, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

The observation began in Sept 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, an observance that included the dates of Sept 15 and 16 (the anniversaries of independence for several Latin American countries). In 1988, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) celebration. The year 2020 marks the 52nd anniversary of this recognition of Hispanic culture and traditions, innovations, achievements, leaders, and artists.

As the World Public Library says, “National Hispanic Heritage Month is the period from September 15 to October 15 in the United States when people recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino American to the United State and celebrate the group’s heritage and culture.” Read more about it on the official site.

Celebrations can look different in diverse parts of the country, from Miami and New York—which have large Cuban-American and Puerto Rican populations—to Fresno or San Jose in California and Maricopa County in Arizona—home to many first-, second-, and third-generation Mexican-Americans.

On the west coast, where I’ve spent most of my time, San Francisco Public Library introduced VIVA! last year, a city-wide celebration of Latino/Hispanic cultures. Celebrations took place in all 28 branches, with papel picado (paper streamers), flores de papel (paper flowers), and ofrendas (altars) setting the scene for more than 100 events with music, food, film, dance, crafts, and author talks representing Latino Hispanic cultures.

The highlights for me were story book readings and Mexican mask-making. Children’s author Mitali Perkins read “Between Us and Abuela” with the kids at Bernal Branch. West Portal Branch hosted children’s author Aida Salazar (“The Moon Within”). Skeleton craft was demonstrated for Dia de los Muertos. And the mask-making workshops, which the library did in conjunction with the Mexican Museum, were a hit at various branches.

Many librarians find it important to participate in this celebration because it helps them reach more people in their communities. According to the Pew Research Center, almost a fifth of the total U.S. population is Hispanic—over 57 million people—and they are the second-fastest growing racial or ethnic group behind Asians. The Hispanic/Latino population was once concentrated most heavily in certain regions, like the Southwest, or certain cities, like Miami, San Francisco, and New York. Now, however, this population is distributed throughout the U.S.  Besides reaching more people with library events and bringing more people into the library environment, this kind of outreach helps people cultivate an understanding of and appreciation for each other’s cultures.

This year, with Covid-19 infiltrating our communities, we probably won’t have many opportunities to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month via displays and in-person gatherings. There is still a great selection of books available, though. San Francisco, for example, has curbside pickup at the Excelsior and main branches, where you can check out books by wonderful YA authors like Newberry Award-winner Matt de la Pena. Other Hispanic American authors of note include Sandra Cisneros, Stephanie Diaz, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Margarita Engle, Kiera Cass, and Benjamin Alire Saenz, among others.

LA Public’s Central Library will host a live stream of Peruvian music this year on Sept 17 at 4 p.m. PT, featuring songs and rhythms from Inca, Criollo, and Afro-Peruvian extraction on ethnic woodwinds, strings, and percussion instruments. The downside is that there are no gatherings inside the library.  The upside is that public libraries are still making celebrations like this one available to all!

My most fervent hope for the moment is that we can resume in-person programs inside libraries soon, to experience Hispanic Heritage Month and Day of the Dead celebrations. I look forward to the return of not just the displays and social functions on special occasions, but also the myriad interpersonal exchanges associated with library services that are so important for adults and children alike. How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month this year?

Nerissa’s passion for all things literary was evident from a young age, when she corralled a younger brother to play Horton in her “production” of Horton Hatches an Egg. Nerissa now enjoys the privilege of working remotely and starting each day practicing yoga on the deck at home in the redwoods. Read more here.

Beloved Comics Characters: Looking Back at 60 Years of Reading Comics

By Kat Kan, MLS

Recently, a friend on Facebook challenged me to post images of 10 comics characters that had an impact on me. Since I started reading comics with newspaper comic strips when I was in Kindergarten, I realized that I have been reading comics, in one form or another, for 60 years. I used that Facebook challenge to think back over the decades.

I remember watching lots of cartoons on television when I was between four and five years old: mostly Popeye, Mighty Mouse, Yogi Bear, and all the various Hanna-Barbera cartoons that were on back then. We had just moved to San Francisco from Hawaii in 1959. The newspaper’s comics page had strips like Peanuts, Blondie, Little Orphan Annie, and Steve Canyon, but I paid more attention to the humorous strips. I thought I was pretty grown up while “reading” the newspaper every day, although I always went straight to the “funnies.”

PopeyePopeye was one of my favorite cartoons. I could sing along with his “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man” theme song, and I decided to eat lots of spinach in the hope I could grow to be as strong as he was (as I’m sure a lot of other kids did, too). Bugs Bunny was another favorite character, and my mother could get us kids to eat whole carrots as a treat. She let us strut around the house saying “What’s up, Doc?” while eating carrots like they were candy. Hmm, my Japanese mother was pretty smart, using cartoon characters to “trick” us into eating healthy…

When my Air Force Sergeant dad was transferred to Japan in late summer 1961, I was ready to start first grade. He and my mother started taking us kids with them to the Base Exchange (BX) every Saturday—think of it as WalMart or Target for military families. The BX had a magazine rack, and the bottom rack was filled with “funny books,” otherwise known as comic books. Until then I really had no idea that such things existed. My parents allowed us to choose one comic book each week (they had to approve our choice), which we three kids had to share. As the oldest, and the one who was actually reading, I tended to choose the comics. Over the course of every week, I’d read and reread the books until they fell apart.

Little LuluSome of my early favorites include Little Lulu, Nancy and Sluggo, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, Dennis the Menace (yes, there were comic books, not just the newspaper comic strips), and Richie Rich. Of these titles, my absolute favorite is Little Lulu. She was such a sassy girl, easily able to handle all the boys, especially Tubby. I loved that she wore dresses, but that it didn’t stop her from doing all kinds of fun, physical things. She also believed that she and other girls were just as good as boys, and she acted on that. Decades later, Dark Horse Comics published collections of John Stanley’s Little Lulu comics, and my younger son, then about eight years old, would sit in a chair in my study and read them, giggling most of the time. One day he looked up and told me, “This comic is for girls.” I asked him, “You’re reading the book, do you like it?” “Yeah.” “So, if you like the comic, that means it’s not only for girls, right?” He thought for a moment, then said, “Yes!” And now, present day, Drawn & Quarterly is doing its own reprinting of Little Lulu comics. That girl has had lasting power… and I love it!

When I was in third grade, we Air Force families were moved from the Washington Heights housing in central Tokyo (near Ueno Park) out to newly built housing (called Kanto Mura) nearly an hour away from the city. The housing was set up in quadrangles of four-unit buildings. We had new neighbors, and all of us kids played with each other and went to each other’s homes all the time. The moms all helped each other keep track of us. Our house became the place where a bunch of the boys would come with their stacks of comics; I was the only girl in the group. We’d sit on the living room floor in kind of a circle, put all the comics in the middle, and just read one comic book after another. My parents still only let me buy the funny comics, but some of the boys brought really cool superhero comics. That was my introduction to Batman, The Phantom, Superman, and The Spirit. I really liked those heroes. I loved the adventures, and they just seemed to go better with the books I was reading: mythology, adventures, and mysteries.

Green LanternIn 1964 we moved back to the U.S., and within a few months my parents decided to buy a house. It was just a couple of blocks from a drugstore that had a comic book rack. By this time, I was getting a weekly allowance of a whopping 25 cents! I used part of that allowance once a month or so to buy comics. But now, with my own money, I was buying superhero and adventure comics. I really loved The Green Lantern then; Hal Jordan was my favorite superhero. I think I liked that he was pretty much a regular guy who got his powers from his ring, which in turn was powered by the lantern. It seemed to be more straight science fiction, which I was reading in books.

I also bought Tarzan comics (published by Gold Key). I was already reading the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, borrowed from my local public library. Back then, starting at age 10, I didn’t have to have a parent with me to go to the library and check out books. I read a lot, close to a book a day. When my mother ordered me to go outside, I’d often take a book or some comics and sit outside on the front steps from the sidewalk up to our lawn and read, until she’d order me to either pull weeds or go ride my bike.

By 1967 I would also pick up random comics that tied in to shows I watched on television: The Green Hornet, Star Trek, The Rat Patrol…I reread those comics a lot. I would also borrow comics from our neighbors. I remember reading a big stack of Metal Men comics and some Batman Family comics. I loved Batgirl on the Batman TV show, but the Batgirl in the comics wasn’t like Yvonne Craig’s portrayal, so I didn’t seek out Batman comics on the store racks. I had a nice little stack of comics that I kept reading. I also bought the occasional issue of “Mad,” especially if the issue included a parody of a TV show or movie I liked. In addition, I bought a number of mass market paperback collections of Peanuts comics, which I also read to pieces—literally.

My dad had been deployed to Vietnam the summer of 1967. When he returned home in 1968, he had orders to move across the country to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia. As an enlisted man, he didn’t have a generous weight allowance for household goods to be shipped to his new assignment, so he ordered us kids to get rid of a lot of our stuff, especially books and comics. I snuck a few of them into one of my boxes, but I had to give up most of them.

For a couple of years, I just kept rereading those few comics I saved, especially Star Trek and Green Hornet, since I no longer had easy access to stores. We spent one year in Georgia, before my dad was reassigned to Hawaii. While we lived in Kailua that first year there, I found a stack of Classics Illustrated comics at a neighborhood garage sale and bought them. I read lots of classic literature already, but the comics were so much fun! When we finally got base housing at Hickam Air Force Base, where my dad was assigned, I started high school and met a girl who loved science fiction and comics as much as I did. Ruth introduced me to Marvel Comics. In the mid-1960s I had watched the Spider-Man and Fantastic Four cartoons on TV, but I was a DC superhero comics fan. I spent a lot of time at Ruth’s house, where we would read through her X-Men comics.

Fast-forward to the mid-1970s. I was attending University of Hawaii and living at home, while working part-time at the local WaldenBooks. The store carried trade paperback collections of Heavy Metal comics translated from the French: I remember “Lone Sloan: Delirius.” And Simon & Schuster published trade paperback collections of Marvel Comics in “Origins of Marvel Comics,” “Bring On the Bad Guys,” “The Superhero Women,” and others. I found the trade paperback of “God Loves, Man Kills”—a classic X-Men story—and lots more. I went on a buying and reading spree. “Elfquest” by Wendy and Richard Pini came out in trade paperbacks in the late 1970s, along with comic book adaptations of Robert Asprin’s “Myth Adventures” fantasy novels, and I bought and read all of those.

MaiI focused my buying and reading on the trade collections of comics, because I bought them from bookstores. By this time, most supermarkets and drugstores carried very little in the way of magazines or comics. They had done away with the spinner racks, and just displayed a few magazines and maybe some Archie comics digests at the checkout counters. WaldenBooks didn’t carry them, but Honolulu Bookstore carried English translations of Japanese comics, starting in the mid-1980s. When we lived in Japan, I used to “read” the comics in my mother’s Japanese magazines, so when I saw some manga, I picked them up. One of my earliest purchases was “Mai, the Psychic Girl” by Kazuya Koda and Ryoichi Ikegami.

Ronin RabbitI also finally ventured into a couple of specialty comics shops. From that time, I started buying comics issues of some Marvel and DC series, then branched out to Eclipse Comics, Valiant, and several other publishers. Fantagraphics had been publishing “Usagi Yojimbo” comics, and I bought the trade paperback collections. I have kept up with “Usagi Yojimbo” through several decades now; Stan Sakai combines Japanese history, folklore, and cultural traditions to tell compelling stories featuring his ronin rabbit. As a mixed Japanese-White person (in Hawaii we’re called Hapa), I really appreciate seeing my Japanese culture represented in comics. I also bought the original black and white “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” trades.

These days, I enjoy manga for the time the creators take to tell the stories, and for telling stories in many different genres—from crime drama to fantasy, to wacky humor, to serious science fiction, to historical fiction, to stories focusing on food, to creepy horror. I like the black and white art, which helps me read horror. I don’t like full-color gore that so many American horror comics depict. I also get a kick out of the fact that several publishers are reprinting or publishing new comics featuring some of the comics characters I read when I was young. And I love seeing prose writers getting into comics: people like Joe Hill, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, and others. I jumped up and down in my chair and screamed with joy at my computer screen when I saw that Jerry Craft’s graphic novel “The New Kid” had won the 2020 Newbery Award.

I read comics for all different age levels now, including mainstream superhero and independent comics, in almost every genre. I have supported Kickstarter and Patreon projects for a lot of new comics creators. I’m now 65 years old, and I love comics even more than I did at five. I don’t plan to stop reading comics until I can’t read any more at all. I love the incredible diversity of creators, styles, and genres that people can read. They exist in print and online. Some are available for free. Many libraries carry at least a few graphic novels that people can borrow. And I really love that my work at Brodart focuses on helping librarians find good graphic novels for their collections.

I never would have believed, even when I was in library school, that I could use my love for comics in my job. It’s been an amazing journey, and I’ll continue on it as long as I can.

shutterstock_644882620

 

 

Kat_Kan_Better_Pic

Katharine

If you’re looking for a graphic novel guru, you’re looking for Kat Kan. Kat looks like the stereotypical librarian with glasses and a bun, until you see the hair sticks and notice her earrings may be tiny books, TARDISes from Doctor Who, or LEGO Batgirls. Click here for more.

 

A One and a Two and…The Census and You: Why the Census Matters to Libraries

By Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

shutterstock_790714156

Planning for the 2020 Census has been going on for years, but you could say that our latest national headcount officially began on January 21, 2020. That’s when Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr became the first person counted for the 2020 census. Nenguryarr, 90, lives in Toksook Bay, Alaska. She’s a member of the Nunakauyarmiut Tribe and speaks a language called Yup’ik. The Census counted about 600 folks that day based on the 2010 Census. You’ll have to wait a little longer for an exact count.

For the rest of us, the Census begins in earnest in March. In mid-March, about 95% of U.S. homes will receive a letter from the Census Bureau. The letter will encourage most shutterstock_1552032581recipients to fill out the Census online. In some areas where Internet access is known to be less ubiquitous, recipients will still be encouraged to respond online but will also receive a paper questionnaire. They also have the option to answer Census questions over the phone. Occasional reminders will be mailed several times through the end of April. Eventually, doors will be knocked on to get as many responses as possible.

There are lots of good reasons for libraries and librarians to be involved with the Census and the ALA has done a good job of explaining them. But briefly, libraries can offer Internet access, help diverse groups find useful information about the Census in the appropriate languages, and help to make sure that respondents don’t get scammed.

According to the New York Times, you can fill out the Census online in five Asian languages, and there are guides to the Census in about two dozen Asian languages. Paper forms will only be available in two languages, however: English and Spanish.

Of course, bad people will try to use the Census to get useful info for a variety of illegal activities, so make sure your patrons know the Census doesn’t ask for Medicare card numbers, full Social Security numbers, or bank or credit card account numbers. You can also assure your patrons that the Census doesn’t ask any questions about citizenship. Read more here.

shutterstock_237968428OK, so are there any other reasons why libraries and librarians should be good helpers and citizens when it comes to the Census? Well, yes, there are more than a billion additional reasons—and all of them are green. It’s estimated that’s how much federal money will be doled out to states for libraries, based on Census findings: $1 billion.

That’s still a fraction of all the federal money that will be divvied up over time based on the Census count for all sorts of things.

So whether you’re urban or rural, rich or poor, new to this country or descended from Pilgrims, the Census is very important. And when the counting is finally complete, there will be data, data, data. Many people, businesses, and organizations will use this information to make all sorts of decisions, from where to build or expand schools, to where the next shiny new grocery store will pop out of the ground.

Are you ready for the Census?

Additional resources:

U.S. Census Bureau Survey Participant Help Page

American Library Association Census Home Page

ALA Libraries’ Guide to the Census

 

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.

Richard

Budding collection developer Richard Hallman finally set aside his dreams of becoming a rock star, movie director, and/or famous novelist to embrace librarianship. Click here for more.

What’s it Like Being an MSLS Student in 2020? Interview with Meghan Herman

shutterstock_266031926

Meghan Herman graduated in 2019 from Penn College of Technology with a B.S. degree in Industrial Design. However, being the daughter of a Brodart executive (Gretchen Herman is Brodart’s Vice President of Product Development), she grew up having a close familiarity with the library industry. It was no great surprise, then, that Meghan recently decided to pursue her Master of Science in Information and Library Science (MSLS) degree from Clarion University.

Not only is she currently studying diligently to become a librarian, she also works full time in Brodart’s Collection Development department. Talk about getting a crash course in libraries from two different angles at once!

What follows is a look at one person’s MSLS journey, which will be an ongoing feature in Librarian to Librarian. Please share your own perspective as you read about Meghan’s experiences.

 

shutterstock_617684927

L2L: What made you want to become a librarian?

MH: I’ve always been interested in books, so that was a strong driver for me. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design, but by my senior year, I had decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. Also, after I graduated, there weren’t many available positions in the field. I knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but the Industrial Design programs are mostly in New York City or California, where I didn’t want to be. Then I discovered an MSLS program at Clarion that doesn’t require an undergraduate degree in Library Science. I did a lot of research, talked to people, and thought about it for almost four months. Then I made the decision to pursue my MSLS and become a librarian.

L2L: What courses have you taken so far?

I completed an introduction to librarianship and a class on databases. I’m currently taking courses on developing library collections and Information sources and services.

 L2L: Have you chosen an area of concentration in your studies?

MH: We do have areas of concentration, but I have not picked one yet. I might stick with collection development or get more into the information science aspect.

L2L: What appeals to you about collection development?

MH: Well, I enjoy building lists. It’s my current position (at Brodart). The data portion of collection development is fascinating to me. When creating lists one of the important factors we consider is demand. But aside from bestsellers and popular authors and subjects, we need also to account for important books that may not show up in a demand search. For example, technical-oriented books that have lower Dewey Decimal numbers aren’t usually in high demand, but they can be very important for a library’s collection.

 L2L: Do they teach you how to “shush” unruly patrons in the library?

MH: (Laughing) I’m not there yet. That’s a more advanced course.

shutterstock_667206523L2L: Do you have any perspective on how MSLS curricula have changed over the past few decades?

MH: Well one thing I’ve discovered is that some librarians who got their degrees years ago are surprised to find that an entire course of study can be online these days. That can be a challenging aspect, because all of the interaction is spread throughout the day, as people post their comments to lectures and discussions according to their different schedules. This can make the discussions less spontaneous and I have to monitor those posts and experience the class through my phone, which is different.

As for the curriculum itself, I feel like electronic sources have become more important.

L2L: How about issues like gender and inclusiveness?

MH: One thing I can say is that our professors ask us what we prefer to be called—not only name or nickname, but also our preferred pronouns. I’m finding the industry to be very open. As long as you can do the work, people will accept you, no matter who you are.

L2L: What is it like working in a libraries services company while studying to become a librarian?

MH: It’s very interesting to see the same challenges from two different angles. One of our homework assignments was to pick a Dewey range, choose titles in that range, and fill categories for a collection. Essentially, we picked a specific range and were assigned a budget and a specific library to select for. I do that at work as well, but there I have access to a number of automated processes. The tricky part for me is to complete the homework assignment while knowing that I have more powerful tools to use at work that make the task much easier!

shutterstock_704005726About 50% of the students already work in the library industry—like me—but some do not. So the teachers have to tailor instruction based on how much each student already knows. At the beginning of my study, I was brand new, but since then, not only have I been studying library science, but I’ve also been working every day in the industry. Some students worked in libraries, found out they really enjoyed it, and then decided to get formal degrees. Other people worked in different industries but volunteered at libraries and, as a result, decided to switch careers.

 L2L: What do you enjoy most about MSLS studies?

MH: Probably the IS aspect — especially building technical information into databases.

L2L: Is it what you expected?

MH: Yes and no. It’s a lot more writing, but I should have expected that! There are a lot of research papers on various library systems. One assignment was to choose a well-known librarian and explore that person’s professional life. I picked Judith F. Krug, who fought hard for intellectual freedom in libraries. She surprised me somewhat, because while Krug looks the part of a typical librarian — quiet, reserved older woman—her appearance belied her significance in the library world. She was an outspoken champion for incorporating books in library collections that had formerly been regarded as taboo. She focused mostly on subjects like information about STDs—nothing erotic—but which had formerly been flagged as sexual and bad. She helped to change people’s thinking so that libraries now regard those topics as important medical texts, to be included on library shelves.

I’ve also written research papers on professional specialization within the library. The professor wanted us to explore more in an area that interested us, and I used this paper to examine different options before landing on academic librarianship. This career path, while interesting, is hard to get into starting out—so it will be interesting if I ever pursue it later on in life. The last paper I’ll mention focused on the impact of eBooks and eReaders on the library, both positively and negatively.

 

shutterstock_1478411528

 

Meghan HermanIn the summer of 2019, Meghan decided to pursue her MSLS while starting a new professional job at Brodart. Outside of work and school, Meghan has what she describes as a pretty chill life.

Click here for more.

 

Beyond the Clouds: What Ever Happened to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry?

By Travis Corter, Copywriter

shutterstock_1016596171

“All men have the stars…but they are not the same things for different people…You—you alone—will have the stars as no one else has them…” — “Wind, Sand and Stars,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Copyright Domaine de Saint-Exupery

Photo © Domain de Saint- Exupéry

What is it about unsolved mysteries that keeps our minds churning into the late hours of the night? Is it the compulsion to solve a puzzle no one else has, to be the first to see things clearly? Or maybe it’s the compulsion to understand what happened to a fellow traveler in life, especially one who fell earlier than expected.

The addictive rush of flying and a conviction to serve his own fellow travelers is what propelled author and avid aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of “The Little Prince,” through nearly every phase of his life before his disappearance in the summer of 1944. But the circumstances surrounding his disappearance aren’t the only mysterious aspects of his short life. Debate continues over whether the man was a supremely skilled or reckless pilot, whether he used his friends for gain or genuinely cared for them.

Let’s start with some of the basics to get a better understanding of the famous pilot and revered writer.

  • Born June 29, 1900, in Lyon, France.
  • Became a part-time mail pilot in 1924.
  • In October 1926, Saint-Exupéry flew mail to northern Africa, France, and Spain.
  • Published “The Aviator,” his first short story, in a literary magazine in 1926—the same year his oldest sister died of tuberculosis.
  • Saint-Exupéry’s first novel, “Night Mail,” was published in 1929.
  • Married Consuelo Suncin, a widowed Salvadoran writer/artist, in 1931.
  • During a 1935 Paris-to-Saïgon air race, Saint-Exupéry and André Prévot, his navigator, crashed in the Sahara desert. The two suffered mirages and fought dehydration and starvation for days—until a caravan of Bedouin found and helped them. This experience would years later become the key catalyst for “The Little Prince.” It was also detailed in Saint-Exupéry’s memoir “Wind, Sand and Stars.”
  • Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s most popular literary work, “The Little Prince,” was published in French and English in 1943. First published in the United States due to the ongoing war, which prevented Saint-Exupéry from publishing in France, the book was published in France in 1946.
  • On July 31, 1944, Saint-Exupéry embarked on an approved mission after eating with friends at a restaurant and cheerfully “performing card tricks and telling funny stories.” He was never seen again.

The Young Man

One of five children born into an aristocratic family, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was still a boy when his father, the Viscount Jean de Saint-Exupéry, died of a stroke. Antoine regarded his mother, Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger de Saint-Exupéry as “a beautiful, intelligent, and caring woman.” She and the five children moved to her aunt’s castle (yes, a real castle) in the northeast. Antoine’s dear brother, François, died from rheumatic fever at age 15, another reminder that loss is too often at the doorstep.

But Marie took Antoine for his first airplane ride when he was 12, and something new was born. So began an all-consuming love for flight. After failing to enter the French Naval Academy in 1918 and subsequently studying architecture at the School of Fine Arts in Paris, Saint-Exupéry earned his military pilot’s license in December 1921.

There was, however, more to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry than this passion for flight. Despite a shortened lifetime, he played many roles and left a lasting impact.

The Aviator

Narrow In PlaneActing as a mail pilot early in his career, Saint-Exupéry once fractured his skull in a plane crash. The accident dissuaded his fiancée at the time from further pursing their relationship due to the danger he constantly faced while flying. He also regularly rescued downed pilots. Some individuals claim they found balled-up pieces of paper in his planes and said the man would often keep flying until he completed the novel he was reading. This speaks to how his vocation and literary aspirations were closely intertwined.

When World War II descended, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for the French Air Force. As German Forces seized control of Paris in May 1940, Saint-Exupéry fled the country for New York. He would return to France in 1943 and promptly return to his squadron. Pilots 30 and over were not allowed to fly the P-38 Lightning, but then-42-year-old Saint-Exupéry convinced officials to make an exception for him. He once wrote in the “Paris-Soir” newspaper: “Don’t you understand that self-sacrifice, risk, loyalty unto death, these are behaviors that have contributed greatly to establishing man’s nobility?” He also confessed, “I feel like I am watching the war from a theatre seat.” He was also grounded, however, after crashing several planes.

The Lover

Historiahoydotcomdotar

Saint-Exupéry married Consuelo Carillo shortly after meeting her. Photo source: Historiahoy.com.ar

He married Salvadoran widow Consuelo Carrillo, an artist/writer, shortly after meeting her in 1931. Consuelo says in her memoir, “The Tale of the Rose,” that Antoine Saint-Exupéry gave her a puma in France after she fled his proposal on the very night they met, in Argentina. The two shared a passionate, if terribly strained, marriage.

The Writer

Saint-Exupéry was known to start each writing day at 11:00 p.m. and wrote until dawn. He often called his friends after midnight to read bits of what he’d written aloud. His second novel, “Night Flight,” was published in 1931 and won France’s esteemed “Prix Femina” literary prize. In 1932, after an English-language translation of “Night Flight” was released, the book was adapted for the silver screen, starring John Barrymore.

Wind Sand and StarsSaint-Exupéry published “Land of Men,” which recounted his flights over South America and North Africa, in 1939. The memoir won the 1939 “Grand Prix du Roman” and was released in the U.S. under the title “Wind, Sand and Stars,” in which Saint-Exupéry also describes the 1935 crash that would go on to inspire “The Little Prince.” “Wind, Sand and Stars” received the Grand Prize for Fiction from the French Academy, along with the United States National Book Award for best nonfiction book, a testament to the blurred lines Saint-Exupéry’s writing navigated.

Saint-Exupéry’s memoir “Flight to Arras,” detailing his reconnaissance flights in France, was published in the United States in 1942.

Little Prince Cover“The Little Prince,” first published in the U.S. during World War II and published three years later (1946) in France, is the author’s best-known work. The story takes its inspiration from a 1935 plane crash that stranded Saint-Exupéry and his navigator in the Sahara desert with no food or water for several days. “The Little Prince” is a fable for both children and adults. In it, a prince, who hails from Asteroid B 612, gains wisdom by traveling throughout the universe. When he lands on Planet Earth, he meets a downed pilot in the desert. The themes reflect the author’s views on friendship, death, childhood, and more.

The book has sold nearly 200 million copies and been translated into over 300 languages. Saint-Exupéry handed his good friend, Silvia Hamilton, a paper bag with his illustrations and “The Little Prince” manuscript tucked inside, with this apology: “I’d like to give you something splendid…but this is all I have.” The book was illustrated by the author himself, who gave the publisher strict guidelines regarding illustration placement and the captions to be included, among other parameters.

“The Little Prince” boasts adaptations including movies, ballet, opera, anime, live theatre, games, and even the world of music.  France even opened a Little Prince theme park, Le Parc du Petit Prince, in 2014. The park boasts several attractions and exhibits, including a roller coaster called The Snake. In 2013, a signed first edition of the title was estimated to be worth $25,000-$35,000.

The Myth

No one had the slightest clue what became of the revered aviator and author. Some suspected an accident, or that he was shot down. Others thought the pessimism of his later years might have driven the pilot to suicide. Then, in September 1998, fisherman Jean-Claude Bianco found an engraved bracelet caught in his trawling net—a bracelet belonging to none other than Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Hoping to keep the man’s status as a revered war hero of almost mythical proportions, the surviving Saint-Exupéry family opposed efforts to investigate the source of a landing gear found by scuba diver Luc Vanrell in May 2000. Major pieces of Saint-Exupéry’s downed aircraft, a P-38, was found and brought to the ocean’s surface in 2003. A serial number confirmed this craft belonged to Antoine Saint-Exupéry, though the lack of bullet holes and combat damage keep the aviator author’s true fate hidden behind a shroud of secrecy.

The Legacy

A three-foot-tall bronze likeness of the titular character of “The Little Prince” stands outside the Northport-East Northport Public Library in Long Island, NY, the result of a joint effort between the Saint-Exupéry estate and French expatriate Yvette Cariou O’Brien. Museum exhibitions and a foundation launched by his surviving family continue to advance some of the causes Saint-Exupéry valued.

The Friend

There is one more role Saint-Exupéry played that had a large impact on himself and everyone around him: Friend.

(2) Alchetrondotcom

Léon Werth, friend to Saint-Exupéry, told of his WWII ordeal in “33 Days,” though the memoir was not published until 1992. Photo source: Alchetron.com

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry dedicated “The Little Prince” to his close friend, Léon Werth, noting, “(H)e lives in France, where he is hungry and cold. He needs to be comforted.” Werth was a reputable Jewish critic and writer who could no longer publish once Germany occupied France. He would go on to survive World War II. Saint-Exupéry felt such a strong kinship with Werth that he smuggled Werth’s manuscript, a memoir recounting Werth’s ongoing ordeal and escape from a Paris ruled by wartime Germany, out of the Nazi-occupied country and brought it to New York.

Saint-Exupéry’s attempts to get his friend’s work published failed, but Saint-Exupéry did write an introduction to the memoir, which eventually be published in 1992. He wanted to convince the United States to enter World War II…and he longed to see his friend and compatriots set free of the fear that had made France inhospitable.

In the introduction to Léon Werth’s memoir, “33 Days,” Saint-Exupéry lamented one of several friends he’d lost in life. “Guillaumet, the last friend I lost, who was shot down flying mail service into Syria, I count him as dead, by God. He’ll never change. He’ll never be here again, but he’ll never be absent either.” Friendship and death seemed long intertwined throughout Saint-Exupéry’s life. He also noted in his “33 Days” introduction that “(t)he presence of someone apparently far away can become more substantial than before they left.” Meaning that absence truly does make the heart grow ever fonder.

Regarding the ache that comes from a cherished acquaintance being plucked out of one’s life, Saint-Exupéry wrote: “Bit by bit… it comes over us that we shall never again hear the laughter of our friend, that this one garden is forever locked against us. And at that moment begins our true mourning, which, though it may not be rending, is yet a little bitter. For nothing, in truth, can replace that companion…One by one, our comrades slip away, deprive us of their shade.” –Excerpt from “Wind, Sand and Stars.”

In “The Little Prince,” however, Saint-Exupéry assures readers that no one is ever truly gone: “In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…”

Saint-Exupéry’s love of people drove him skyward time and again as a mail pilot. It was his love of people, not just country, that drove him to fight for France and join his comrades in the clouds during some of the most harrowing times the world has seen. He wasn’t perfect, not one of us is, but he was a fierce friend. And though his later writings may have seemed melancholy, Saint-Exupéry stood firm in the assertion that the darkest night is always lit by those we love, if only we look up.

shutterstock_481793977

Sources:

10 Deadlines Only a Librarian Would Understand

Deadline Comic

Image by Cartoon Resource

 

For librarians, deadlines invite a special chance to embrace the sometimes absurd—but always rewarding—task of meeting patrons’ unique and changing needs.

Here are 10 deadlines that only a librarian can fully understand.

 

1. Buy $100,000 worth of books in three days—but only titles NOT available in the U.S.

Overwhelmed with Books

Spanish Language Selector Nerissa Moran: “My funniest book deadline would be buying at the book fair in Guadalajara. Talk about a rush order!”

 

2. Become a master on The Masters as fast as humanly possible.

Golf Academy

Richard Hallman, M.Ln.: “Way back when I was a news librarian, we had many deadline requests.” Here’s one Richard remembers well: “Find out everything you can, as fast as you can, about everyone who’s a member of Augusta National Golf Club, AKA ‘The Masters’ golf club.”

 

3. Order at least 1,000 books per day.

shutterstock_540088372

Fern Hallman, M.Ln.: “This was back in the day, before Bibz and the World Wide Web (1988), ordering an average of 1,000 books per day for new library branches in Atlanta.”

 

4. Give children a library tour of a building you’re completely unfamiliar with.

Tour Guide Border

Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS: “The only crazy deadline I have faced would be: Show up as a substitute librarian at a branch and find out I need to take school kids on a tour in half an hour—but I’ve never been in this building before!”

 

5. Set up a camera to welcome students to school on live TV—with NO prior experience.

TV Studio Kid

Suzanne Hawley, MLS: “I was hired to open a new school… My attention was solely focused on unpacking and organizing the collection on the new shelves, as well as managing the set-up of computers in the library… The principal mentioned to me that I would also oversee a TV studio. Late on the Friday before the first week of school, she told me she expected to welcome students live on TV for their first day. I Had NO idea how to operate ANYTHING in a TV studio. Wearily, I unpacked the camera and tried, without luck, to figure out how it sent signals to the classrooms. Never underestimate a librarian! The principal was seen on the TVs in every classroom at 9 a.m. the first day of school.”

 

6. Find a way to wheel a TV downstairs for a group of toddlers—while the elevators are down.

Elevator Out Of Order

There is no limit to the lengths to which a librarian will go to help little ones gain a literary edge. Desperate times sometimes call for creativity. Luckily, librarian ingenuity often strikes at the eleventh hour. Never bet against a librarian under pressure.

 

7. Find 26 wine corks and make a pumpkin out of them. Post-haste.

Winr Cork Pumpkin

Autumn opens the door to all kinds of unique opportunities for librarians. And that means unique challenges. Programs like Wine-Cork Pumpkin Making provide a chance to feature special activities for adults, giving them a new excuse to visit the library.

 

8. Get told you have to create an escape room in time for the library’s grand reopening—and on a shoestring budget.

Escape Room

Escape rooms challenge those within to use problem-solving skills and sometimes motor skills to successfully unlock a door and emerge with a sense of accomplishment. Such a program, with adult supervision provided, could benefit library goers. Organizing the event, though? That’s a different challenge altogether!

 

9. Learn everything you can about ska, starting yesterday.

I Heart Ska Border

Maybe a fellow librarian was going to lead a program on ska featuring instruments the young attendees could make themselves. Unfortunately, she’s come down with a nasty bug and asked you to fill in. So you dive in and get to work. Librarians are masters of the impossible.

 

10. Dress up as a children’s book character when the person scheduled to play that character suddenly cancels.

Sailor Costume

There’s a unique adrenaline that comes with undertaking such a substantial feat with little to no prep time. But nothing beats putting a smile on someone else’s face or eliciting giggles.

 

This is just a sampling of the quirky obstacles librarians often face. Odds are, you have your own fun anecdote about a library deadline no one else would understand. We hope some of these have brought a smile to your face. Remember, you’re not alone!

Is it Time to Eliminate Overdue Fines?

By Fern Hallman, M.Ln.

shutterstock_1465411436

I have been a library user my whole life. My mom took us to the library every week, and kept perfect track of all of the books we borrowed. We were never late. I won’t say we were afraid of the local librarians, but we certainly understood that the library was a great service and that we should cooperate fully with the rules. However, the rules were not always easy for those with limited resources, like families with unreliable transportation or personal issues. Also, to use a watered-down cliché, THINGS HAPPEN. Maybe you left a book in a hotel or a taxi, and were unable to confess at the library. Would this go on your permanent record? Will this prevent you from ever visiting the library again?

Take a look at this map from the Urban Libraries Council. It shows a strong national movement for the elimination of library fines. While some libraries see the fines as a revenue stream, in many cases the fine money just goes back into the city or county general fund and does not directly benefit the library. This study from Library Journal, perhaps the most scientific one available, notes that only 15% of fines collected nationally by public libraries is spent on library materials. A little more unscientifically, you may take into account that libraries incur labor costs when they track and collect fines, and that some libraries even pay collection agencies to collect fines.

According to one perspective, fines are a useful way to teach and promote personal responsibility, while others feel that it’s more important to encourage reading and forego the morality. You can read more about the debate here.

shutterstock_741262948Some library systems have been reluctant to completely eliminate fines, choosing other creative ways to approach the issue. A different option is to eliminate fines only for youth, since fines often keep parents from allowing their children to use libraries. Libraries hope to increase access to reading and other library services to those who need them most. Not to worry—most libraries still expect books to be returned before more can be checked out.

Here are two more examples of libraries that are eliminating fees for younger patrons:

shutterstock_108717770Several libraries—including Santa Clara County Library District and Dearborn Public Library—have established programs to allow patrons to pay their debts in alternative ways, including through food donations. Perhaps this is a good way to generate goodwill and retrieve long lost library materials.

It may be too soon to determine how this issue will play out, but here’s an early result. According to news reports, the Chicago Public Library, one of the largest library systems in the country, has seen a 240% increase in book returns since the implementation of a fine-free policy. The new policy has also improved public perception of the library system and attracted new users.

Your library system may not be ready to make this move, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about.

For more on the magic we librarians create, here’s an interesting article on the role of librarians.

 

fern

Fern

Fern has worked for Brodart as a Collection Development Librarian since 1990. She also did a stint as a reference librarian in the CNN newsroom and is married to a newspaper librarian. Click here for more.

What Ever Happened to R.L. Stine?

By Paul Duckworth, MLS

The name R.L. Stine may be quite familiar to librarians, but what about the man behind the books? Those of you with only a passing familiarity of the author have likely asked at least one of these questions:

“R.L. Stine? Who was he? Whatever happened to him, anyway?”

“He’s not a real person. It’s like the Hardy Boys series, all those books have been churned out by a team of writers.”

“Oh, he was that nerdy guy who wrote all those scary little books for kids, wasn’t he?”

“Isn’t he dead?”

“I feel like I ought to mark a pathway on the floor of the Children’s Department so kids could just follow it to find the R.L. Stine books, instead of asking me again, and again, and again!”

Stop right there! Are you talking about the R.L. Stine that I’m talking about? Let’s look at the facts. First of all, he is not dead. But, if you thought he might be, you’re not alone. He recently turned 76 and, as we all know, that’s pretty old (no offense to the septuagenarians reading this). At a book signing a couple years ago, a teacher approached him, phone clutched in hand, and said, “Can I have my picture taken with you? The kids all think you’re dead.”

And to tell the truth, despite the fact that he makes his living writing children’s horror stories, he doesn’t look at all like a horror storyteller. I know, that begs the question, “What’s a famous horror writer supposed to look like?” I don’t know…why not go ask Siri or Alexa?

shutterstock_1471814327

The first “Goosebumps” series featured 62 books.

Stine has often joked about the local newspaper in Ohio describing him this way: “In person, R.L. Stine is about as scary as an optometrist.” Stine then goes on to say, “I’m basically a jolly guy who likes to sit at a keyboard all day and write things to frighten children.” Then he shares the anecdote about the time he was outdoors, walking toward the conference center where he was going to speak, when a woman stopped him and said, “Did anyone ever tell you look a lot like R.L. Stine? No offense.” And, of course, he never hesitates to tell people that a magazine once described him as a “training bra for Stephen King.”

rl-stine-400x300

Meet Jovial Bob, himself.
Image credit: scholastic.com

Robert Lawrence Stine was born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 8, 1943, the first of three children. He grew up in Bexley, an old, tree-lined suburb of Columbus. His father was a warehouse clerk, his mother a homemaker, and the family was poor, quite poor (no offense to any penurious people reading this). As Stine relates, “I had to wear my cousin’s old clothes to school. I think it made me very shy. It’s one reason I liked staying in my room and writing.” And he really did like to stay in his room. His mother would often try to coax him, unsuccessfully, to go outside and play. “What’s wrong with you?” she would blurt out. Lucky for his future fans, Stine didn’t budge from his room. He was an avid reader and began writing when he was nine. He recalls, “I was this weird kid. I found an old typewriter in the attic and I dragged it into my room and I would just stay in my room, typing — typing out funny stories and little comic books.” And he has never stopped writing since. When he turned 13, his parents asked what he wanted for a bar mitzvah gift. Guess what he chose—a new typewriter! “They bought me an office-type machine. We’re talking a heavy-duty typewriter here. It was perfect. I used that typewriter for years.” Just imagine—all those books he’s written on that typewriter, and all of them using one finger at a time—he never learned how to type.

After high school, he attended The Ohio State University, where he majored in English. His freshman year he had to borrow the money needed to pay his tuition. He graduated in 1965, after having been the editor of the school humor magazine for three years. In an August 2018 Wall Street Journal article, Stine describes what happened next:

After graduating from Ohio State, I drove to Manhattan in my white Corvair. I sold it for $400 as soon as I arrived and moved into an apartment in Greenwich Village. My first job was writing fake celebrity news for a woman who published six movie magazines at her townhouse on West 95th Street. I never saw her out of her brown bathrobe. Three of us came each day to write. She’d tell me to write an interview with Jane Fonda or Diana Ross. There never were any interviews. We were expected to make it all up. After a long string of writing jobs, I wound up at Scholastic. The publisher had launched Dynamite, a magazine for kids. It was so successful I was asked in 1975 to launch Bananas, a humor magazine for teens.

He adopted the name Jovial Bob Stine and remained Bananas’ editor and chief writer for 10 years. Then, Scholastic went through a major reorganization and Jovial Bob lost his job with the company. Soon afterwards, he found himself desperately doing all kinds of work to survive financially. One day, he remembers, “I was having lunch with an editor, a friend of mine. And she had had a fight with somebody who was writing YA novels, horror novels. And she said ‘I’m never working with him again. You could write a good horror novel. Go home and write a book called Blind Date.’ She even gave me the title.” He did a name switch from Jovial Bob to R.L., since that made him sound like a more serious author of horror. The book was released in 1986 and was met with success. So, as fate would have it, Stine turned from his first love of writing humor to writing horror. Millions of children who like to get frightened are glad that he did.

shutterstock_440004022

R.L. Stine’s first “Fear Street” novel, “The New Girl,” was published in 1989.

In 1989, he created the “Fear Street” series for teens, which led to more than 100 titles. Stine’s wife, Jane, had recently co-founded Parachute Publishing, and “Fear Street” found a home with Parachute. Jane became Stine’s editor, which she has continued throughout his career. And yes, all of his books are written by Stine himself, the “one finger wonder.” Unlike so many other authors, he does not use ghostwriters. Three years later, Jane and her business partner at Parachute suggested to Stine that he create a horror series aimed at kids between seven and 12, which was an untapped market. He was somewhat reluctant, but told them he would give it a try if he could come up with a good name for the series. Soon afterwards, Stine was reading TV Guide and saw an ad that proclaimed, “It’s Goosebumps Week on channel 11.” This was 1992, and as it’s often said, the rest is history.

Now, after more than 125 “Goosebumps” titles, two wildly successful “Goosebumps” movies have been released, which has generated renewed interest in the book series. A new movie is coming out next year based on his Fear Street series. Stine has also written two well-received picture books, both illustrated by Marc Brown. He has sold over 400 million copies of his books and they have been translated into 35 languages. He is one of the best-selling authors in history, has achieved incredible success, and is estimated to be worth about $200 million. He modestly attributes his success to the fact that kids like to be scared and the books are very easy to read. He and his wife Jane live in a large apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They also have a home in Sag Harbor, NY, at the eastern edge of Long Island, where Bob likes to barbeque. So, given his age, what do you suppose he is doing with his time, aside from grilling meat? One might assume he is kicking back and enjoying his golden years with his family. After all, he and Jane have one son and a grandchild. Coasting along? No way! Relaxing is not how he’s spending his days, other than participating in the beloved rituals of the barbeque.

Who is this person? What makes R.L. Stine tick? He is a humble, gentle man with a huge sense of dark, dry humor. He loves horsing around with his jokes and… he loves making kids frightened. Ask him what his proudest accomplishment is, and he shoots back, “Getting kids to read.” He is intensely curious, loves being entertaining with people, and although a natural introvert, has honed the extroverted skills needed to connect with others. He has an active mind that never seems to stop—perhaps as a result of his voracious reading habits. He keeps up a dizzying schedule of book conferences, bookstore signings, media interviews, and school visits. When I contacted him recently, he messaged back, “Wish I had time, but I’m traveling now, Paul.” He seems to get genuine pleasure from connecting with children, librarians, teachers, and the adults who were his fans 20 or 30 years ago. In response to repeated questions from kids about his writing techniques and his awareness of today’s distractions that keep children from writing, he created a 16-page writing program for teachers to use with their students. Also, no doubt in response to thousands of requests, his website offers a package of images that children can download for school reports (including his and Jane’s wedding photo).

shutterstock_1069559237

Send your fan mail—he does read it!
R.L. Stine
Parachute Publishing, LLC
157 Columbus Avenue
Room 518
New York, NY

He’s often asked where he gets his ideas and what advice he would give to young writers. “People always say do I have advice for young people and generally I don’t give advice for young writers at all,” Stine says. “[But] I never said no to anything when I was starting out as a writer. Just say yes. Say yes to everything.”. R.L. Stine is a man with a passion, and not just about scaring children. His devotion shows through in the introduction he wrote to teachers for his writing program. He is outspoken about the benefits children receive from reading and writing. Last year, Mental Floss published a list of 12 quotes from him in honor of his 75th birthday, clearly revealing Stine’s firm belief in the value of being a literate person.

In a 2015 interview, NPR’s Michel Martin asked him, “Since the ‘Goosebumps’ series started, there have been a number of children’s books series that have also been successful, but none like yours. I just wondered if you—you know, what—of all the things that you’ve done, what do you want your legacy to be?” Stine replied, “My legacy? Oh, I don’t know. I guess on my tombstone: He got boys to read.”

Jovial Bob has indeed turned boys—and girls—into readers, and sparked their imaginations. Chances are good that right now he is planning or participating in another public appearance where hundreds of his young, excited fans will delight in his storytelling, humor, and passion. At 76, he shows no sign of winding down—or giving up writing his scary stories. Like the Energizer Bunny, he is still going. Nothing outlasts R.L. Stine.

Thank you, R.L. Stine. Countless kids, teachers, and librarians adore you. Your contributions to spreading the values of reading and writing are colossal. You can be certain your legacy will be long-lasting. And… maybe someday… you and I can have that chat by phone before you head out to barbeque some chicken. You’ve got my number.

 

Paul Duckworth New - 2.5 x 3
Paul

Nothing brings a smile to Paul Duckworth’s face quite like a good book, a long walk, and the unmatched beauty of country life. Click here for more.

 

 

Books in the Family

By Gwen Vanderhage, MLIS

shutterstock_1146872162

“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.” ~ Anni Albers

In some families, there runs a thread of common traits, common interests, or particular talent. We see it with athletes like the Manning family, political dynasties, or some of the legendary acting families like the Barrymores. There are also family partnerships and dynasties in the world of children’s picture books. Three of the most successful picture book families happen to be African American and mixed. These are families who contribute mightily to the diversity shelves with their personal and universal stories.

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers

1 Illustrator Families

Image credit: wbur.org

Walter Dean Myers is best known for his gripping teen novels exploring African American identity and urban life, as well as his powerful historical novels and biographies. He also authored many picture books. Christopher Myers, his son, was immersed in the craft of publishing from an early age and always dreamed of illustrating his father’s books. Before he was a teenager, Christopher began winning art contests and even had his art published in a children’s magazine. The two became collaborators when Christopher Myers was in college; he received a 1998 Caldecott Honor for their first picture book together, “Harlem.” Ultimately, the two would collaborate on five picture books, all of them featuring poetry written by Walter Dean Myers. Christopher Myers illustrated several of his father’s novels, as well.

2 Illustrator Families

Image credit: scholastic.com

Both illustrators brought exceptional talent and detail to their books. What’s more, they took immense pride in each other’s work and had real affection for each other, which is immediately obvious in reading interviews of them, or seeing them in person at book events — as I was lucky enough to do. In his chapter about their family in “Pass It Down,” Leonard Marcus writes about how both of them were worried about letting the other down in their collaborations. Christopher held his father’s writing in high regard, while Walter had great respect for his son’s art and never wanted him to feel judged when they worked together.

Since Walter Dean Myers’ death in 2014, Christopher Myers has been an outspoken advocate for the need to see diverse people and viewpoints in publishing. He is the creative director of the Make Me a World imprint at Random House, which published its first books this fall, to great acclaim. He has also been an ambassador of his father’s legacy. In his acceptance speech for his father’s Children’s Literature Legacy Award (American Library Association, 2019), he said:

You told us about young people like you were, ambitious and fearful, guarded and loving, intimidated and brave. Mixed-up and beautiful. You told me that the reward of a story was in the growth of a character, that no one cared about superheroes unless they had a weakness, a vulnerability that was a strength. That is what every child, in classrooms and prisons, riding subways or walking through cornfields, recognizes in these books you’d written and themselves. Kids who have been painted with masks, like thug or good-for-nothing, threat or fear; first you saw in them, yourself, and then articulated all that vulnerability, lightness, sweetness, and love.

This family that speaks to the importance of seeking out stories and voices, and telling your own, has made the Myers legacy one for all readers.

Donald Crews, Ann Jonas, and Nina Crews

3 Illustrator Families

Image credit: nccil.org

Donald Crews and Ann Jonas met at art school in the 1950s and shared careers and family from then on. In the 1960s, the two found most of their work in jacket design for books, before Donald published his first picture book, “We Read: A to Z.” It wasn’t until after Crews received a Caldecott Honor for his now-classic “Freight Train” that Ann began publishing ground-breaking picture books of her own. She was inspired by her two daughters, Nina and Amy, and included them as characters or models in most of her books. Nina Crews, now an adult and celebrated picture book maker in her own right, remembers being around her parents’ art and supplies all her life. In their family, creativity was celebrated in everything they did. They visited museums often, Ann made her daughters’ clothes, and the parents built their children toys like a play kitchen and dollhouse. This environment allowed for freedom of experimentation, and while Nina has followed in her parents’ footsteps, her artistic style is entirely her own. Nina Crews’ work mixes photography and collage, and features her father and her sister’s children as models.

The Pinkney Family

738MFox

Image credit: hbook.com

Jerry Pinkney is one of the most celebrated American children’s illustrators working today. He won the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his interpretation of Aesop’s “The Lion and the Mouse” and has won numerous Caldecott honors, Coretta Scott King awards, and lifetime achievement awards from those same bodies, in addition to awards and honors outside of the American Library Association. Working from his home studio, Jerry Pinkney has spent a lifetime sharing his art with his family. His wife, Gloria Pinkney, was a milliner, silversmith, and storyteller before becoming an author. Together, they strove to fill their home with inspiration — common areas full of art supplies, dance and drama classes, and no television. The children made toys out of balsa wood or pipe cleaners; they dressed up in costumes and modeled for their father’s paintings. Eventually, all of the Pinkneys’ four children became artists in different disciplines.

Brian Pinkney was the most interested in his father’s artistic process and wanted to do whatever his father was doing. Brian published his first picture book in 1983, just after graduating college. While he was finding work as an illustrator, Brian was dissatisfied with painting and started working with scratchboard drawing. Over the years, his own style has become more recognizable and different from his father’s. He has written picture books of his own, while mainly illustrating the words of others. He has his own shelf of medals, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards and two Caldecott honors.

Gloria Jean has gone on to author her own picture books, most of them illustrated by her husband or sons Brian and Myles.

Myles Pinkney is a photographer who has contributed to books by his mother and has collaborated on picture books with his wife, Sandra L. Pinkney. Their book “Shades of Black” won an NAACP Image Award.

Andrea Davis Pinkney is a best-selling and award-winning author who married into the Pinkney family. She has received Coretta Scott King Author Awards and authored the books for which her husband, Brian Pinkney, earned Caldecott honors. The two have collaborated on 20 children’s books, in addition to their own critically-acclaimed projects.

11 Illustrator Families

Image credit: simonandschuster.com

The third generation of Pinkney artists is beginning to make their way in the publishing world this year. Granddaughter Charnelle Pinkney Barlow (daughter of Myles and Sandra) has her first book out in January 2020. In “Just Like a Mama,” Charnelle illustrates a text by Alice Faye Duncan. Charnelle’s art can be found on Instagram, where she has also been featuring her textile prints and designs @callmechartreuse.

Family talents and values really do make a lasting impact. My own family features several generations of teachers and readers. I know that my childhood experiences — from my mom reading aloud, to library trips when staying with my grandmother, and the crates of new books my reading specialist aunt would drive over to share — these all made a critical impact on the children’s librarian I am today. Do you have a family passion or talent passed on to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Sources:

“2019 Children’s Literature Legacy Award Acceptance by Christopher Myers on Behalf of Walter Dean Myers” — Horn Book, June 24, 2019

Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark — by Leonard S. Marcus

“The Pinkney Family: In the Tradition” — Horn Book, January 10, 1996

“The Pinkneys are a Picture Book Perfect, Author-Illustrator Couple” — NPR, August 11, 2019

Seeing Into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright — written by Richard Wright and illustrated by Nina Crews

“A Visit with Charnelle Pinkney Barlow” — Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, September 30, 2019

 

Gwen Vanderhage - 2.5 x 3

Gwen

After spending many years as a children’s librarian and collection development specialist at Denver Public Library, Gwen joined Brodart to share her passion for children’s literature with as many different libraries as possible. Click here for more.