July 30, 2008

The Lion and the Mouse

Though the July 21st issue of The New Yorker caused quite a ruckus in the political world--portraying Obama and the Mrs. as terrorists in a cartoon entitled "Fear-mongering"--it should be looked at for other reasons. Actually it was a great issue, ad best of all was a fascinating article about E.B. and Kathryn White, and the founder of the Modern Children's library, Anne Carroll Moore. Anyone interested in children's literature, or libraries, ought to read this piece:
In the first half of the twentieth century, no one wielded more power in the field of children’s literature than Moore, a librarian in a city of publishers. She never lacked for an opinion. “Dull in a new way,” she labelled books that she despised. When, in 1938, William R. Scott brought her copies of his press’s new books, tricked out with pop-ups and bells and buttons, Moore snapped, “Truck! Mr. Scott. They are truck!” Her verdict, not any editor’s, not any bookseller’s, sealed a book’s fate. She kept a rubber stamp at her desk that she used, liberally, while paging through publishers’ catalogues: “Not recommended for purchase by expert.” The end.

The end of Moore’s influence came when, years later, she tried to block the publication of a book by E. B. White. Watching Moore stand in the way of “Stuart Little,” White’s editor, Ursula Nordstrom, remembered, was like watching a horse fall down, its spindly legs crumpling beneath its great weight.
Read the whole article here.
Image Source: 1, of E. B. White at the New Yorker Offices, 2, of Ms. Moore, at the first Children's Room in the Mew York Public Library.

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