The library where I work classifies picture books under a “PE” heading.
PE stands for “Picture Easy.”
I’ve never quite understood that designation. To me, “easy” books are titles geared for early readers, such as the “I Can Read” series published by HarperCollins.
I wouldn’t necessarily call a picture book an “easy” book. They are not easy to write, nor are they easy to illustrate. The intended audience (often preschoolers) probably doesn’t find them easy to read. Heck, they’re not even easy for me to catalog.
But I guess people just assume they’re “easy” because they contain mostly pictures.
I’ve been busy this weekend, so didn’t get around to preparing a blog entry. Then I thought, “Why don’t I just post a bunch of pictures? That should be easy.”
See how quickly one can fall into that “pictures” equal “easy” trap?
Anyway, a couple people have asked to see pictures of my Newbery Book collection, so I thought I’d post a couple on my blog today. All the books are first editions. It’s taken a whole lifetime to collect them...and I still haven’t found them all yet. (Anybody have a first edition of the 1922 Newbery Honor WINDY HILL by Cornelia Meigs? How about 1931’s DARK STAR OF ITZA by Alida Malkus? Buyer desperate.)
Here’s a panoramic view of the main collection:
And here’s a close-up of a random shelf. This one contains books from the early to mid-1960s. ...Hey, does that book have a tail?
That’s actually a fraying tassel attached to the program for the 1967 Newbery-Caldecott banquet. Every year the people who attend this ceremony receive a program or souvenier of some sort. Last year it was a harmonica! Naturally these items are highly valued by collectors. I’ve never attended an N-C ceremony but sometimes I’ve had friends who attended and brought me back a souvenier (thanks, guys!) If that doesn’t happen, I usually try to buy one. The older it is, the more it costs. This program from 1967 cost over one hundred dollars:
The program for the 1967 banquet, which was held in the ballroom of the San Francisco Hilton on June 27, contains a list of the people who sat the head table. In addition to the winners (Irene Hunt won the Newbery for UP A ROAD SLOWLY and Evaline Ness won the Caldecott for SAM, BANGS & MOONSHINE) and their editors, guests included Daniel Melcher (“Donor of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals"), Mary Gaver ("President of the American Library Association") and Mrs. Clift, Mr. Meeks, Mrs. O’Hara, Mrs. Holman, and Mrs. Mohrhardt, who not only don’t have any positions listed...they don’t even seem to have first names! The highlight of the banquet program are two removable pages, one containing a quote from UP A ROAD SLOWLY (if you have a copy of the book, the quote is from page 171. It concerns the moment the novel’s protagonist first becomes a REAL writer) and the other a print from SAM, BANGS & MOONSHINE:
As you can see, there are many shelves in my Newbery collection, each one special. This one contains a favorite book, that one contains a favorite memory. But if you asked me about the most special shelf of all, I’d have to say this one:
Not just because it also features pictures of treasured pets, a treasured friend (and favorite author), and a treasured memento -- a mug from another Newbery-Caldecott dinner. No, what makes this shelf special is that it contains the most recent winners and Honor Books. I love that it’s always in a state of flux. As soon as I added this year’s winner (GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!) and Honor Books (ELIJAH OF BUXTON, THE WEDNESDAY WARS, and FEATHERS) people were already talking about what books will win NEXT year. My Newbery book collection isn’t just a bunch of dusty old books sitting on a shelf...it's something that continues to grow and change with every passing year.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the mug, it’s a gift from a friend who attended the 1989 banquet, honoring Paul Fleischman for JOYFUL NOISE and Stephen Gammell for SONG AND DANCE MAN. And you can see I put it to good use:
Every night I empty my pocket change into the Newbery mug. When I have enough coins saved, I may be able to add a new book to my Newbery collection.
...Now if only I could find copies of WINDY HILL or DARK STAR OF ITZA....