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“Garth Williams: Illustrator of the Century” exhibit

Through July 31st, 2018, the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine, is hosting the children’s book exhibit “Garth Williams: Illustrator of the Century.” Curated by none other than children’s literature scholar (and Friend of The Horn Book) Leonard S. Marcus, the exhibit is “by far the largest Garth Williams retrospective ever assembled,” with over one hundred pieces of original artwork, sketches, etc., by Williams, illustrator of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little; the Little House books; The Cricket in Times Square; Bedtime for Frances; Little Fur Family, The Sailor Dog, and others by Margaret Wise Brown; lots and lots of Little Golden Books; New Yorker cartoons; and much more.

The exhibit is mainly on the second floor of the library, all along the walls and by the stacks. Unsurprisingly, Marcus’s accompanying notes are accessible and informative; his presentation of the Rabbits’ Wedding controversy (“Trouble in Paradise”), for example, includes a copy of a racist magazine article decrying the picture book’s “thinly veiled endorsement of interracial marriage.”

There’s a “virtual exhibit” link, with narration by Scott Nash (the library provides headphones). Nosy folks like me may be interested that several of the pieces come from the private collections of Angelica and Tony DiTerlizzi (who also helped with our Beverly Cleary retrospective and uncovered this letter from Cleary to her illustrator Louis Darling’s widow, Lois) and of Mo Willems.

Downstairs in the children’s room area is a “Collaboratory” with related hands-on activities and information about Maine children’s book creators. There are a lot of them — and it’s an active and distinguished group. We just missed by a few days the library’s discussion between Some Writer! author/illustrator Melissa Sweet and E. B. White’s granddaughter, Martha; this weekend you can catch Elizabeth K. Wallace and James D. Wallace talking about their biography Garth Williams, American Illustrator: A Life. Let us know how it goes!

ETA: A note from the Curtis Memorial Library on Facebook: We welcome friends of The Horn Book to this remarkable exhibit. We have self-guided audio tours, as well as docent tours Wednesdays at 2:00 PM, Thursdays at 6:30 PM, Fridays at 10:00 AM and Saturdays at 10:00 AM. We are two blocks from the Amtrak Downeaster train station. Garth and Brunswick await you!”

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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