Abby and Jack Review Two New Children’s Books

Abigail is back, this time with her friend Jack to review two new children’s picture books. Jack tackles Zachariah Ohora’s latest fuzzy caper involving a pair of apartment-dwelling felines, while Abby looks at a canine compare-and-contrast board book by French illustrator Élo. Both are great choices for early readers to enjoy during the dog (and cat) days of summer.

Niblet & Ralph, by Zachariah Ohora, Dial Books for Young Readers; $17.99, 32 pages, ages 2-6. 

Niblet and Ralph is about two cats and their kid owners. The four of them live in the same building, but only two of them know it. A tragic mystery happens that brings the humans together–be sure to read the book to find out! The cover shows a cat wearing headphones–how adorable!

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Images reproduced with permission from Dial Books.

Contrary Dogs, by Élo, Candlewick Studio; $12.00, 20 pages, ages 0-6. 

Contrary Dogs is a funny book about all different types of dogs–opposites, really. For example, one has spots, another doesn’t. Plus, it’s a book where you can lift the tabs–who doesn’t like those? Your child will love exploring the tabs and reading all about these amazing dogs!

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CONTRARY DOGS. Copyright © 2016 by Éditions Sarbacane. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

Announcing the Winner of the 2018 Albertine Prize

Readers may recall a story posted back in December about the Albertine Prize, an annual award co-presented by jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy that recognizes American readers’ favorite contemporary French fiction translated into English. The reading public was invited to vote at Albertine’s website, and pretty much stuff the ballot box with their favorites.
This year’s five nominees included:

 

Incest by Christine Angot, trans. by Tess Lewis, Archipelago Books
Compass by Mathias Enard, trans. by Charlotte Mandel, New Directions
The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis, trans. by Michael Lucey, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou, trans. by Helen Stevenson, The New Press
Not One Day by Anne Garréta, trans. by Emma Ramadan, Deep Vellum
Interest in the prize was drummed up on April 10 when LitHub’s editor-in-chief Jonny Diamond, The New Yorker’s H.C. Wilentz, Albertine’s director Tom Roberge, and others shared their favorites.
The winner of the $10,000 prize was finally revealed to a packed house on Wednesday, June 6, with French literary critic and la Grande Librarie host François Busnel and translator Lydia Davis. The grand prize went to Anne Garréta’s Not One Day (Deep Vellum, 2017) translated by Emma Ramadan. Garréta’s twelve vignettes exploring memory and desire was originally published as Pas Un Jour in 2002 (éditions Grasset) and awarded the prestigious Prix Medicis. The winnings are split between author and translator and assure the book greater exposure to an English-speaking audience. Congratulations to the winners!

 

Photo courtesy of the French Embassy of New York

Little Women at 150: Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel never gets old

My story on the 150th anniversary of Little Women is the June e-feature at Fine Books and Collections

Source: Literary Anniversary – Fine Books and Collections

Words and Meaning: A Look at Exhibit Design

A recent trip to the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) to inspect, among other items, a panel painting newly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, revealed a curatorial trend of removing informational wall panels and captions. This captionless experiment was being played out in the museum’s Renaissance and Old Masters galleries.

 
“The Museum is working on alternative design approaches that encourage new ways for visitors to interact with and participate in daily uses of the gallery,” reads the WAM website. In Worcester’s Renaissance gallery, informative text has been replaced by interactive iPads and laminated guides stored in hanging bins around the room.

 
As a museum-goer accustomed to informative text, the absence was jarring–is the portrait on the wall a Vermeer or a Rembrandt? To answer that required firing up the communal electronic device or hoping the plastic info sheets weren’t missing. The experience brought up the question of whether or not informative captions distract from artistic enjoyment and contemplation.

 

Captions have become something of a controversial topic in the museum world, for reasons ranging from misleading facts to funding concerns to pleasing everyone in an age of political correctness. In a 2015 ArtNews article, WAM director Matthias Waschek expressed great pleasure at removing “that damn piece of paper,” referring to wall labels, allowing works of art to speak for themselves. Yet for those without a degree in art history, properly constructed captions provide welcome nuance and context.

 
“I guess I’m old fashioned,” said Brazilian art historian, curator, and collector Pedro Corrêa do Lago recently when asked about his preference for informative captions. Corrêa do Lago has amassed over 100,000 autographs, manuscripts, and other handwritten items that span nearly a millennium and which are now subject of a new exhibition at the Morgan Library. The Magic of Handwriting: The Pedro Correa do Lago Collectionshowcases 140 jewels from his archives that bear the signatures and handwriting by a who’s who of the world’s creators, performers, and thinkers. (See Nick Basbanes’s forthcoming profile on Corrêa do Lago in the next issue of FB&C.)

 
Corrêa do Lago wanted viewers to enjoy the exhibition at hand while also understanding the rationale behind the inclusion of each piece. How then, to tie together material hailing from six distinct disciplines in the Morgan’s intimate Engelhard Gallery? To do this, he turned to Brazilian husband-and-wife team Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara, the duo responsible for designing the Rio 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony. At the Morgan, Thomas and Tassara organized the items like rows of cream-white Greek stele; each autograph sheet is raised at an angle, as if on a writing desk, protected only by a thin film of plexiglass, while large-font informative text greets the viewer at eye level. The result is a wholly immersive and informative experience.

 
“The text is critical,” explained Thomas. “It explains why Pedro selected these specific pieces, and how the power of handwriting can connect us to great people.”

 

 

Unaccompanied by captions, however, a letter bearing the thumbprint signature of physicist Stephen Hawking or other slips of paper become no more than marks on a page.

 

 

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New for 2019: Booklyn Art Fair and a New Location

In a positive sign of the times, we’re pleased to report the forthcoming arrival of another new book arts fair. Booklyn, that beloved Brooklyn institution dedicated to promoting book artists, printers, and other bibliocentric pursuits, is getting into the book fair business. In September 2019, Booklyn will be joining forces with the New York City Book and Ephemera Fair, also affectionately known as the Satellite Fair that takes place the same weekend as the annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair, and they’ve put out a call for exhibitors. Here are the specifics:

 

Booklyn has forty tables available to exhibitors for the duration of the two-day show at the bargain price of $400 each, limit four tables per artist, group, organization, or press. Contact mweber@booklyn.org to reserve a table before the September 1 deadline. The Fair itself will take place Saturday, March 9, 2019, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Sunday, March 10, 2019, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Sheraton Central Park 811 7th Avenue New York, NY, 10019.

 

The theme for the 2019 fair is a bit of a mouthful, but certainly gets the point across: “Resistance and Resonance, how have the recent Art Build, Me Too, March for Our Lives, Black Lives Matter, BDS, Immigrants’ Rights, Gender Justice, and Standing Rock direct action movements affected the field of creative publishing?” Participants are invited to submit a proposal for a presentation based on that theme.

 

Bookyln organizers hope this new endeavor will provide participants the opportunity to meet new audiences and collectors in Manhattan.

 

In addition to launching a new fair, Booklyn’s in some new digs: the organization recently moved to a location in the Artbuilt Brooklyn center located in the Brooklyn Army Terminal (Building B-7G) and will reopen to the public in July with a welcoming exhibition, workshops, and lectures. The telephone number remains (718) 383-9621.

Women in a Golden Age of Artists’ Books

The Center for Book Arts is hosting a roundtable on the work of women book artists on May 22nd. Here’s what to expect:

Though artists’ books can arguably trace their origins back to medieval volumes like the Trѐs Riches Heures, contemporary artists’ books tend to reference William Blake as the forerunner to the genre. And since then, the field has produced masters like Dieter Roth, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and others who transform books into art objects.

The 1970s and 80s are considered by many experts as the golden age of offset printed artists’ books, and though it was a field mostly dominated by men, women were making their mark, too. A roundtable discussion being held at New York’s Center for Book Artson Tuesday May 22 will explore the work of those women creators of offset printed artists’ books, the challenges they faced, and what they hope the future holds for the next generation of printmakers. Participants include Cynthia Marsh, founder of Tennessee’s Goldsmith Press; Rebecca Michaels, a photography professor at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia; and Philadelphia-based book artist, printmaker, and professor Patty Smith.

The panel will be moderated by the Met’s associate chief librarian of the Watson Library, Tony White, whose exhibition, Production, not Reproduction: a Chronological History of Offset Printed Artists’ Books, appeared at Yale in 2006 and at the Center for Book Arts in 2007.

Diane Dias De Fazio, a public services librarian at the NYPL and one of our featured librarians in the “Bright Young Librarians” series, has been instrumental in organizing the event. “The work of Smith, Marsh, and Michaels was featured in both iterations of that exhibition. White also served as guest editor for Volume 25 of the Journal of Artists’ Books,” Dias De Fazio said in an email recently.                                                                                          

 

“I interviewed all three women ten years ago when I was creating a genealogy of offset printers for Volume #25 of the Journal of Artists Books,” explained White. “I learned about where they discovered printing, who they studied with, and who they taught. There are a number of male offset printers who have received more recognition, but who came a generation or so later. With so many women book artists’ and printers, I want to make sure their stories are heard, especially in the contemporary book production environment.”

Though Tuesday’s panel of participants is far from complete, White believes that the women sharing their stories are representative of the experiences others have had.

“In a way, I am returning to a project I started in 2007 to gather and publish the interviews of offset printers,” explained White. “The focus of the program is on women who played important, foundational roles in the field of high speed rotary offset printing. “It is a highly technical and demanding printing process–much less forgiving that letterpress.”

“Women in a Golden Age of Artists’ Books” happens on Tuesday, May 22 at the Center for Book Arts (28 West 27th St, 3rd floor) from 6:30-7:45. RSVP to this event at rsvp@centerforbookarts.org.

Welcome Bookworks, a New Artist’s Book Fair

Readers, welcome Bookworks to the book artist’s fair scene. The San Francisco Center for the Book is hosting its inaugural event on Friday, May 18, from 5:30-8:00 p.m. at their location on Rhode Island Avenue. Eighteen book artists will be displaying their creations, all at price points between $50 to $500.

 

“We want this fair to support up-and-coming artists much in the way our founders, Mary Austin and Kathleen Burch intended when they created SFCB back in 1996,” said executive director Jeff Thomas. “Additionally, San Francisco hosts the CODEX book arts fair each spring, but young and struggling book artists often can’t exhibit there due to the relatively high cost to participate,” he said. “Our show is dedicated to supporting artists just starting out, as well as giving new collectors a reasonably-priced venue to start their own collections.” In addition to giving new artists a platform to reach prospective buyers, the show also welcomes established local book artists like Mary Laird and Lisa Rappoport. “At its core, this show is really about the vibrant book artist’s community here in San Francisco and that it can be accessible to all,” explained Thomas.
The event is free and will be accompanied by light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, so RSVP ASAP!

 

This story first appeared on the Fine Books Blog on May 11th.