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The Mouse That Roared


by Jerome Weeks 22 Jul 2008

Remember the recent opening of Bookmarks, the Dallas Public Library’s children’s outlet in NorthPark? If you can look past the needless tumult over the Obama-as-terrorist cartoon cover of the July 21st New Yorker, you can find a terrific story by Jill Lepore about a time when libraries for children, even books for children, were considered […]

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Remember the recent opening of Bookmarks, the Dallas Public Library’s children’s outlet in NorthPark?

If you can look past the needless tumult over the Obama-as-terrorist cartoon cover of the July 21st New Yorker, you can find a terrific story by Jill Lepore about a time when libraries for children, even books for children, were considered suspect, at best. The free public library is one of America’s greatest inventions, but the earliest ones turned away anyone younger than 16 and had trouble with the morally corrupting books even the adult general public seemed to enjoy. Samuel Tilden nearly changed his mind about giving millions to establish a New York library when he heard that 90 percent of all books checked out of the Boston Public Library were fiction.

But what the story, “The Lion and the Mouse,” is really about is the  librarian who single-handedly changed that, who invented the children’s library (and invented serious reviews of children’s literature along the way) — and who, at the end of her career, set out to destroy Stuart Little.

Also, NPR has just run a report about the current state of popular children’s books — at least those adapted from the recent spate of comic-book/superhero movies.

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