This morning we entertained twenty-three third to fifth graders and their teachers and monitors from the Miami Shores Baptist Academy in a library tour arranged by Claudia Caro Sullivan in our education department. The young students had come to the library for a presentation of the book as art object. The tables in the main library reading room were laid out with a variety of beautiful books ranging from oversized leather editions richly decorated in the art nouveau style complete with gold tooling; batik cloth bindings; upholstery and fabric sample books and decorative arts catalogs with a papier-mâché contoured cover stored in a silk cloth covered box; a batik vellum elephant portfolio holding one hundred year-old, poster-sized Rembrandt lithographic reproductions and another oversized portfolio containing pochoir illustrations of a Navajo War Ceremonial; and a unique binding made of bass and mother of pearl with hand-painted vellum pages done in the style of an illuminated medieval manuscript.

As delighted as the students and their escorts were with the beautiful books on the table, the real surprise was reserved for me, however, when I picked up a Dutch language children’s book on Snow White. As I began hesitantly to trip my tongue over the Dutch title, Sneeuwwitje, one of the precocious young girls in the group intervened, confidently pronouncing it with flawless ease and precision. Evidently her parents had moved to South Florida a number of years ago, and she had been raised bilingually. Here are some images from the work in question:

~ by "The Chief" on February 5, 2010.

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