The Musings of Molly

A blog primarily chronicling the artistic and writerly endeavors of a girl who moves with the change in wind patterns, and is always trying to puzzle out, and explore the life given.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Barbara Elleman I love your library

Today after work I looped over to the Eric Carle Museum's Barbara Elleman Research Library. I have never met Barbara but I know I would like this woman based on what she felt were valid books to begin collecting. The Barbara Elleman Research Library is a small library off the main picture book library at the Carle. You have to call or email ahead to let them know you would be interested in being in the BERL, a simple step to guarantee there is someone at hand to help you out if needed. Barbara Elleman's library is comprised of all the books the normal world would find dull and boring. Holiday House the first Sixty-Five years, Biography of Tomie dePaula, Caldecott Winners 1938-, The Golden Years--all the books I've been tearing my parents house apart looking for from my own collection. A colleague at work today asked me what kind of chip the iphone five used to connect to wifi, and I looked at them and said, "You want to know what Trina Schart Hyman painted her illustrations in? Acryllic washes with a zero sable brush for the line work... How Eric Carle makes his tissue paper?" That's how I feel about Barbara Elleman's library. Barbara Elleman's library is my geek capital.

In I waltz out of the first New England storm. Cold air swirling around my wool sweater and hoist open the doors to the Carle. No matter how many times I walk through those doors they always stump me as they slide oddly on their tracks. In I tumble, and a high pitched shriek greets me as a young kid is running from her hot-on-pursuit mother. I find my way back to the picture book library and into the BERL. 

"Betty can help you with anything you need," Abigal tells me gesturing to the woman seated at the main table.

Wherein Betty and I proceed to have a delightful hour long conversation about all things children's literature. Betty's in my So You Want To Choose The 2013 Caldecott mock committee and so we both took a second to figure out how we looked familiar and then on it was to fairy tales, librarian training, favorite books, and book clubs. It was awesome. It was more than awesome. I was surrounded by all these fantastic books that were all geeky research books, skimming through the Triva of the Caldecott's book looking for any last minute notes I ought to add for Trina's chapter, while Betty was looking through her archives for anything Trina related.

She disappeared and returned with a bulletin from 1977. Trina Hyman, it said on the top and proceeded to be an article about this woman's favorite illustrators. Initially, we thought it was an article about how someone loved Trina, but in fact, there was no mention of Trina... save for the title. Then as we began to look closer, it actually was TRINA's take on her favorite illustrators and why. "Oh this is totally Trina writing, listen to this...." I'd say and read a line about completing a book and a bottle of whiskey, or about how something annoyed this writer. Trina was up front. She never bothered to mince words; if you annoyed her, it didn't matter if you weren't suppose to actually WRITE that, she would write it. It was rather fascinating to do the backwards deduction, not to mention the magical discovery of something Trina related that I had not yet read. 

I left feeling magical. I left feeling like the best day ever when it had only been an hour spent in a small library of books donated by Ms. Elleman. It was just perfect. A day before, I was cursing how I didn't have access like I did as a student to research books. But today, I was reminded there are other points of research other than college stacks. It was a reminder of how much I just love that literature stuff. There aren't many people that get as excited by old letters, cards, library books, and chatting about The Witch of Blackbird Pond, or favorite authors and illustrators. But I do. Betty does. And I was bubbling over with so much excitement that I wanted someone who would get how perfect it was so I called Bren but she did not answer. I called Will, because he too, would understand my excitement and I caught him signing a pile of books for his speaking engagement tomorrow. And I just drove home with a smile on my face because things are special out here, and I think, I think just maybe, I'm getting back to the path of my best self.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post script

For the record, while I like all this writing, my little artist self is saying, "Hey, please don't forget you know I, too, am good for you."

Should post up some work that I'll hopefully get to this evening.

Novel November

It's Novel November and I've spent it spilling over my old Trina research, intent to sit at a Starbuck's table in southwest New Hampshire, plugging away again at completing a manuscript of the illustrator who so inspired me. Having researched Trina way back in 2003, then in depth in 2008, this year of 2012 seems far removed from those adventures of interviewing famous and notorious contributors to children's literature, and friend's of Trina's. I find myself cocking my eyebrow at emails I boldly sent to famous people, and yet all the time receiving overall a wonderful response and great tales. I also recall the $150 dollar fine I accrued at the Miami University library having not returned a special lecture booklet that had a speech by Trina.. the lecture who's pages remain tucked in the "In Trina's Own Words" section of the worlds largest binder.

What fun.

What a wonderful portrait of an artist I was able to piece together. And yet, as I type across from my mother who's grading papers on this fall day, I laugh. "Mom I think Trina was a bit of an imp. I think she found humor in just making stuff up to respond to people. Like she just told stories about various things. There's inconsistencies in her descriptions of things. Then again if I had people asking me this and that all the time I'd probably get a bit bored too. I feel like I could see her laughing inside on some of these things though..."

People use to fascinate me. I would study them. Think about them. Wonder about their place in the world and how they are puzzling it out, as I myself, was puzzling. After the 'dark period' this lessened some, though I still find my initial interest in Trina, aside from her stunning art, remains the same. She was unique. She wasn't traditional. She had to find her way with untraditional ideas and untraditional gifts in a world that was shifting and applying the pressure to say, "Hey, do this. Look like this. Be this."She saw the world in the small details. The small details that often we're taught to not mention, talk about, grow out of. I appreciated that. I still appreciate that, perhaps more because she maintained that push against the norm even as an adult. I wonder sometimes if she ever found peace around it. I suspect she did in some ways. That sense is what I think would still be valued today in my many slews of words, even if she is drifting away in some circles--the ability to connect to someone, to relate to someone, is perhaps what we all look for as we puzzle through our own place.

Okay, back to the writing... leave the musings for another day...