Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chart a course to the world's best book museums

Between the lines: Explore interesting book museums around the world

Tuesday, 02 July, 2013

Eric Carle is the famed author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillarand Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? as well as 70 other picture books for the very young.
His collage technique, using bright colours, is instantly recognisable. After a long and successful career, Carle could have settled into a comfortable retirement. Instead, in 2002 and at the age of 73, he and his wife founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Museum Book is a good introduction to the history of museums and what museums are for
Located midway between Boston and New York City, the museum houses an extensive collection of more than 10,000 picture book illustrations, as well as three art galleries, an art studio, a theatre, and picture book and scholarly libraries.
It also organises educational programmes for families, scholars, educators and children.
The picture book library has more than 3,000 picture books from around the world. But the big draw is the bookshop, where visitors can buy contemporary and hard-to-find picture books.
If your family holiday takes you to that part of the United States, then you must try to visit the museum's special exhibition this month called "Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems".
Willems is one of my favourite children's book creators, and he will be signing books on specific dates during the exhibition.
The Pioneer Valley area where the museum is located is also home to a number of other museums suitable for family fun: the Dr Seuss National Memorial and Springfield Museum, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Amelia Park Children's Museum, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory.
If you are on the other side of the Atlantic this summer, then you may consider heading to northern England to visit Seven Stories, the national centre for children's books.
Located in Newcastle upon Tyne, the centre is housed in a seven-storey building, and its special archives contain draft illustrations, and handwritten author's notes and correspondence.
With a mission to make books an essential part of every child's life, the existence and accessibility of Seven Stories is especially meaningful in this northeastern region, where the number of children living in poverty is double the average in England.
Meanwhile, The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections by Jan Mark is a good introduction to the history of museums and what museums are for.
And for those staying in Hong Kong, the summer months bring plenty of book-related activities.
The Hong Kong Book Fair runs from July 17-23 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and there will be special activities and events for children and young adults. Besides stocking up on picture books from Taiwanese publishers and speciality books such as those on religion or cooking, it's also the best one-stop shop for stationery and art supplies.
Another annual summer event is the Hong Kong Public Libraries' "Summer Reading Month", with music and puppet shows, storytelling sessions and parent-child reading activities.
A book-themed summer vacation awaits!

Annie Ho is the board chairwoman of Bring Me A Book Hong Kong, a children's literacy charity (bringmeabook.org.hk)

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