Saturday, January 22, 2011

A brief review of The Library of the Early Mind

On January 20th The University of Victoria had the honor of hosting the Canadian premiere of the "Library of the Early Mind," a documentary by Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow to a packed house. It was the most wonderful evening and a great way to celebrate my 58th began with a children's book donation to support local groups who support children.  The Dean of Education, Dr. Ted Riecken, welcomed the audience and introduced a children's literature panel. Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo introduced the film and gave a little background on it's creators. After the documentary was shown, the panelists, including myself, Kid's Can Press editor and non-fiction writer, Val Wyatt, Governor General short-listed illustrator, Kristi Bridgeman, and Victoria Public Library Children's and Youth Services Coordinator, Tracy Kendrick, were led in a lively discussion led by moderator, Dr. Pantaleo.  The film was so jammed packed full of the most interesting interviews and insights that the discussion could have gone on for hours. Creators like: Chris Van Allsburg, Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), Lois Lowry, David Small, Mo Willems, Patrick Lane, and many others, offered inspirational insights and pearls of wisdom about the impact of children's literature on children and the adults they will become. Social responsibility, creativity, cultural impact, new media, the importance of literature, and the ability of literature to open doors were only some of the subjects touched on.  In addition to interviews with creators, critics such as Roger Sutton and Anita Silvey were interviewed.  Librarians such as Betsy Bird and editors like Arthur Levine also offered their insights.  There were three things disappointing about the film.  The first is that it didn't include any Canadian talent.  The second is that it was over far too soon.  And the third was that one could not stop the film repeatedly to take notes; there was just too much to take in. I can only hope that it will soon be available on DVD. Every school, library, and writer will want one.  Thank you to Edward and Steve for devoting the time and resources to the creation of this wonderful documentary.  Thank you to a fabulous panel for providing a Canadian perspective.  And thank you to Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo and The Department of Education of the University of Victoria for bringing it to Canada.

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