Of Press release:
An Exhibit of America’s Beloved Little guest books opens Wednesday, January 19 at The Penn College Gallery in Williamsport, offering viewers a range of discoveries, from exploring old favorites and appreciating their classic artwork to learning about the fascinating history of the publishing business.
“Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books” is on display until Wednesday, March 30 at Pennsylvania College of Technology art gallery, located on the third floor of the Madigan Library. Admission is free and open to the public.
“Golden Legacy” features 65 original illustrations from 51 books published from 1942 to 2017, including famous classics such as “The Little Poky Puppy,” “Play a little tune,” “I can fly,” and “I am a rabbit.” Organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas, the exhibit is the largest public exhibition of original illustrations from America’s most beloved and significant picture book series.
“The exhibition appeals to our collective sense of nostalgia and possible nostalgia, and will likely evoke fond memories,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, director of The Gallery at Penn College.
“Guestbooks trigger a strong cultural association with childhood for many adults as they connect with the stories and images. Young audiences may not be as familiar with classic imagery, so the exhibition will serve as an introduction to an incredible group of iconic illustrators.
An online Zoom conference will also take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday February 2, hosted by the curator of the exhibition, Leonard S. Marcus, one of the world’s foremost writers on children’s books and the people who create them. The conference is free, but registration is required at pct.edu.
Graphic design students at Penn College have already engaged in exploring classic illustrations in class projects, and students in other courses, including English, history, and sociology, will find valuable content to study. . Lutz says the show is equally important for community enjoyment and education.
Introduced in 1942, Little Golden Books revolutionized American children’s literature by making picture books available at a variety of outlets for just 25 cents each. A year later, with World War II causing paper shortages, the books were reduced from 42 to 28 pages. Artists fleeing the ravages of Europe at this time found a home working at Little Golden Books, including talented émigré illustrators Feodor Rojankovsky and Tibor Gergely.
Many of the original Little Golden Books titles are still hugely popular, with “The Poky Little Puppy” topping the list of the 10 best-selling children’s books of all time. The Golden Books backlist is full of classics such as Dorothy Kunhardt “Pat the Rabbit” and features the stories and illustrations of children’s book legends Mary Blair, Margaret Wise Brown, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkins, Garth Williams and others. Today, the Golden Books imprint includes a range of storybooks, novelty books and coloring and activity books with popular licenses including Disney, Nickelodeon, Barbie, Thomas & Friends, The Cat in the Hat, Sesame Street, Marvel Super Heroes and DC. Great Friends.
The rich history of the books is shared in the exhibit and will be illuminated in Marcus’ online discussion, “A New Deal for the Nursery: Golden Books and the Democratization of American Children’s Book Publishing.” It will delve behind the scenes of the visionary enterprise that brought together leading artists, writers and marketing wizards to make Golden Books a household name.
Marcus is the author of several books, including “Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon” and “Golden Legacy: The Story of the Golden Books,” and is the editor of “The Annotated Ghost Tool Cabin” and “You Can’t Say That!: Writers for Young People Talk Censorship, Free Speech, and the Stories They Have to Tell.” Founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum and editor of the Astra publishing house, he has written frequently for “The New York Times Book Review”.
The “Golden Legacy” exhibit at Penn College is dedicated to the late Veronica M. Muzic, a strong advocate for education and the arts. Muzic joined Williamsport Area Community College, a predecessor of Penn College, as an English teacher in 1968 and retired from the institution in 2006 as vice president of academic affairs/provost. The college’s first “mistress teacher” maintained a close relationship with the college until her death in 2019.
“Veronica has dedicated her life to education,” Lutz said. “An exhibition related to both early reading and affordable children’s books would have appealed to him.”
“Golden Legacy” is the third exhibition of The Gallery at Penn College’s 2021-2022 season. Serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the community, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.
The Penn College Gallery (1 College Ave., Room 303, Williamsport) is open 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; it is closed on Saturdays. Prior to the visit, guests should check the college’s business continuity page for current pandemic-related guidelines.