It did start out slowly, with a tour guide who preferred to give great detail on a piece of artwork rather than give us time with the original Thomas Jefferson Library. But we still enjoyed walking the halls of the Jefferson Building, peering down into the impressive reading room, and strolling past the Gutenberg Bible. The real stuff began when we went to the Children’s Literature Center. There, Jacqueline Coleburn showed us some rare children’s books from the collection. We saw a first edition of The Wizard of Oz, original sketches by James Marshall for Fox Be Nimble, and an early primer book.
It was hard to take good pictures without the flash (which might hurt the books over time), so I didn’t take many photos. I’m partial to this children’s book from the 1600s, which is A Token for Children: Being an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful deaths of several young children, by James Janeway. Joyful deaths. Yep, they don’t write them like they used to. Click on the picture to enlarge if you don’t believe me. (Though it should be said and was said by our host that such books were made to help in accepting death, since so many children didn’t live to adulthood.)
We also spent time walking around the Children’s Literature Center, which is a small library and research center as opposed to the holdings of every children’s book ever published. However, our host was kind enough to bring over a few of our KidLitCon attendees’ books for display. Here you’ll see Joan Holub along with some of her titles. Sara Lewis Holmes was excited to see her Letters from Rapunzel displayed as well.
Our group was also treated to a visit to see books from the Rosenwald collection of rare books. The curator of this collection, Daniel De Simone, had a display of several illustrated books starting from a title from the 1400s! Then, using the Aesop’s fable of the city mouse and the country mouse, he showed us the changes in woodblock printing and artwork over time and nationality. I believe the one in the photograph is from Italy in the 1500s. I know, I should have been writing that sort of thing down, but I was too mesmerized by these old, rare books right in front of me. I just found at least two more of the books we saw in the details of the Library of Congress exhibition. Our host was very knowledgeable about the collection and captivated us with the stories behind these rare books. We were all sorry to leave, and it’s possible that one of us hid behind a bookshelf where an old Charlotte’s Web was held.
After the Library of Congress tour, we went our separate ways, knowing we’d meet up again at dinner along with thirty or so of our blogging friends. We had two large table at Arlington’s Tortoise and Hare, quickly took over a third, and then proceeded to make more room on the corners and ends as bloggers continued to arrive. People were introduced around, and where the proper names might draw polite smiles the blog names often brought gleeful squeals. Biblio File! LibrariYAn! Miss Rumphius! The conversation was lively and loud, ending only when it looked as if we would soon be overtaken by a lively and loud band. The folks who weren’t quite done for the night headed to the hotel bar, for what Liz Burns would soon dub by the hashtag #drunkkidlitcon. But even though the topics of funny tweets, Girl Scouts, Facebook friends, and of course books seemed like they could go on forever, we did clear out at a reasonable hour, knowing that a special KidLitCon breakfast awaited us at 7:00 a.m. and that bacon wasn’t going to eat itself.
I’ll continue with the day of KidLitCon tomorrow. For now, leave me a comment if you’ve got a post about the conference and I’ll do a round-up at the end of the week.
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