In my email box this morning was notice that this dormant blog has a new follower. It was reason enough to post again – even though my travel has been almost nil this year except for a wonderful trip to NYC for the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference at the end of April.
It’s an event I look forward to every year – three or four days with my writing peeps, including a vibrant board of directors. Plus the joy of being in the Big Apple. Each year I factor in extra time for sightseeing, and although I promise myself to venture out of Manhattan, there are always places that call me.
This year it was the fabulous New York Public Library where the featured exhibit was “The ABCs of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.” As a book lover ever since I can remember, I was mesmerized by the number and quality of books that have transcended time. “Goodnight Moon;” “Alice in Wonderland;” “Where the Wild Things Are” – and hundreds more favorites through the years fill room after room. Their original manuscripts and first editions are exhibited along side original drawings and drafts. Notes and comments from the authors filled the margins along with evolutions of illustrations that morphed into those that eventually made it into print.
In the interactive exhibit, Alice’s head rises from normal level to at least 10 feet-high on a neck composed of books. I walked through a fuzzy Wild Things archway and watched the delight on the faces of children who must love books too. I traveled to a time when my mom read me a story every night until I was old enough to read one to her. And more recent memories of reading to young grandchildren flooded over me.
I like to take credit for my Grands love of books, but I think it’s inborn. Jenna who began reading at three (no joke) and refuses to go anywhere without a book; Mia who struggled with reading in kindergarten and is now Ace-ing AP classes; Idan, the lone grandson, who devours books about his sports heroes; Jael who wanted a huge bookcase for her birthday to house her growing collection; Meg, whose love of reading runs a close second to her affinity for art. Who could ask for better?
But I digress. The NY Public Library building is a work of art inside and out. Even better, on a weekday afternoon it was crowded with visitors and members who came to see the New York icon and take advantage of computers, classes and millions of books. Don’t miss it if you’re in New York (in the heart of Manhattan on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street).
My next treat was The Morgan Library (225 Madison at 36th Street) that I’ve visited every year since NYC friend, Margie Goldsmith, introduced me. Prepare to be amazed at the beauty of the architecture and art – and the unbelievable collection with priceless pieces like the Guttenburg Bible, an autographed manuscript of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s the “Haffner” Symphony; a note from Steinbeck to a friend about his struggle to finish “this damned book,” (The Grapes of Wrath) and so much more. Ask the guard to let you peak behind the locked gates and see Pierpont Morgan’s secret stairway, the one he used to avoid seeing unwanted visitors, and don’t miss his library filled with extraordinary works of art.
The special exhibit I went to see was The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I had to read it in the original French while in college and came to love the story and simple drawings, all sketched by the author.
His original manuscripts filled with derogatory notes to himself and drawings line the walls, and as much as I still love it, I was surprised to learn that The Little Prince is the most-read and most-translated book in the French language. It has been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects (as well as braille) and continues to sell nearly two-million copies annually with a staggering 140-million worldwide since its first printing in 1943. Every author should be so lucky!