(Children’s) BookNotes

From civil rights, magic, naughty cats and bunnies, below are the top stories this week in the world of children’s books:

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit is the first children’s literature character to appear on a British coin: bit.ly/1LQ971n

American Girl adds a new character to its book lineup, focusing on the civil rights movement: bit.ly/1U2JxZB

On her website Tuesday, J.K. Rowling released the first of four essays chronicling the history of magic in North America: https://www.pottermore.com/collection-episodic/history-of-magic-in-north-america-en 

Children’s book author-illustrator Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty series is adapted for children’s theater in Oregon: http://www.orartswatch.org/bad-is-good-the-cats-meow/

Classic Children’s Tales: 150 Years of Frederick Warne; Frederick Warne, $25.00, 112 pages, all ages.

Since 1865 Frederick Warne & Company has championed the importance of providing children with their own literature, and introduced the world to Beatrix Potter, Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott and Edward Lear, as well as more modern authors such as Eric Hill (creator of the Spot series) and Cicely Mary Barker (Flower Fairies). In 1983 Penguin Books acquired Frederick Warne, where it flourishes as an imprint. Now celebrating its sesquicentennial, Warne recently released a commemorative compilation of its most prestigious authors and illustrators. Classic Children’s Tales: 150 Years of Frederick Warne is a foil-stamped jewel destined to find pride of place on the bookshelves of many children’s book collectors. Devoted to Potter, Caldecott, Greenaway, and Lear, each of the four sections includes introductions supplied by modern legends Jan Pieńkowski, Paul O. Zelinsky, Lee Bennett Hopkins and Eleanor Taylor. Stories that have nurtured young spirits for generations are here, such as Caldecott’s “Sing a Song of Sixpence” and Greenaway’s “Mother Goose,” as well as a story by Beatrix Potter entitled “The Sly Old Cat” that wasn’t published until 1971, nearly thirty years after Potter’s death. These stories encourage young readers to imagine the impossible, that reading is an adventure, and that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Here’s to many more years of Frederick Warne and to the next golden age of children’s literature.

Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit is one of the most recognizable children’s book characters created, and now the Morgan Library in Manhattan is hosting an exhibition of Beatrix Potter’s picture letters, which include numerous sketches of the curious bunny. Initially these letters served purely as entertainment for children of friends. Later they became an inspiration for Potter’s books throughout her career. (She borrowed them back from the original recipients in order to publish them.)

Also in the show are objects demonstrating the author’s relentless attention to her artistic creations, from documents showing she personally paid for the publication of her books, to overseeing the design of toys and games that were merchandised with her publications. This is a must-see exhibit if you’re in the area. 

Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters
November 2, 2012 through January 27, 2013
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016