“The best children’s stories are wisdom dipped in art and words.” –Peter Reynolds in Library of the Early Mind
This afternoon, I attended a screening of the documentary Library of the Early Mind at the Minneapolis Central Library. The sparsely filled auditorium held librarians, teachers, and other people affiliated with the business of children’s literature, but I would love to see this film move beyond that audience. The film is a fascinating look into what we all remember about children’s books from the people who created them. It is a celebration of what children’s book can do, the power they have, and the way they bring stories alive. I particularly liked the Peter Reynolds quote above, which I hope I’m remembering properly since I didn’t take notes during the film, but there were so many great moments. Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, is hilarious. Jack Gantos talks about life as a writer in a way that makes you really get why he would choose to smuggle a bunch of hashish into the country (or try to, at least) and how his time in prison turned him into a writer. I highly recommend his memoir, A Hole in My Life. And I have added another book to my endless “to read list” thanks to this movie: David Small‘s Stiches.
In the panel discussion after the film, we learned from the director that inspiration for the documentary came from an article in The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik about Babar, which you can listen to here. He also mentioned that right as the film was about to be released the New York Times started the discussion about picture books possible demise (read that here). The members of the panel were of the opinion that picture books are not dead or dying. The field is changing, but the love of story remains strong. And picture books remain a powerful way of telling stories.
Here is the trailer:
This is a movie for anyone interested in stories. There is another screening tomorrow evening at the Galaxie Library in Apple Valley. Check it out.