Arts and Entertainment
Monday, December 15, 2008
Picking the best of children's books
Author and Kent State collectors say instincts may be best guide
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE
One of the best ways to buy a children's book is to read a children's book. That advice comes from author and illustrator David McCaulay and Sylvia and Kenneth Marantz, who came to Kent today (Monday) to dedicate one of the most extensive collections of children's literature in the United States.
|Children's book author -- and converted architect -- David Macaulay said parents can often feel if a book is right for their children.|
|Courtesy of Gary Harwood|
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A pensive Rapunzel.
A sea turtle with the world on his back.
These are some of the characters found within the 21,000 children's books in Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz's collection that have found a new home at the Kent State University library.
The 50-year collection of books, along with 2,000 posters of those books, were dedicated Monday by the Marantzes, whose critical eyes for children's literature have helped shape a collection that gives parents an alternative to the big-box bookstore approach.
"You need guidance if you don't know the world of picture books," Sylvia Marantz said. "That's why we hate these great big stores where nobody there knows anything."
The Marantzes recommend that besides consulting professional librarians to select children's literature, parent's use their own enjoyment of a children's book to gauge whether it's a good choice for their children.
"Read the story yourself," Sylvia Marantz suggests. "Do you want to read it again? Because if you buy that for a kid, you're going to have to read it 150,000 times. You'd better like it!"
Author and illustrator David McCaulay, whose books occupy a prominent corner of the Marantz collection, agrees that a parent's opinion of the book is an excellent indicator of whether a child will like it. He offered a set of questions parents can use to judge the literature: "Does it make you smile? Does it perhaps make you laugh? Does it take you back to another time in your life?
The Marantzes look at David Wiesner's 2007 Caldecott Medal-winning children's book "Flotsam" as a prime example of the kind of book parents should be buying, citing the detail and imagination in its story and illustrations.
"We didn't care who won the Caldecott that year; THAT was the book of the year," said Sylvia Marantz. "And when it won we felt very vindicated, because we thought it was absolutely top."
"Flotsam" and the rest of the Marantz collection can be found in the third floor of the Kent State University library.