Gorgeous illustrations are a draw for kids


November 12, 1993|By Molly Dunham Glassman | Molly Dunham Glassman,Staff Writer

Next week is National Children's Book Week, and here are a few ways to celebrate.

* Visit the Peale Museum to catch "Through Sisters' Eyes: Children's Books Illustrated by African-American Women Artists." This gorgeous exhibit, which runs through Dec. 10, highlights the work of 10 award-winning illustrators: Moneta Barnett, Carole Byard, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Cheryl Hanna, Margo Humphrey, Dolores Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, Dindga McCannon and Faith Ringgold.

The exhibit designers -- Linda DePalma, Paul Daniel and Angela Franklin -- have transformed the museum space into a sanctuary for flights of fancy. Life-size characters from Ms. Ringgold's "Tar Beach" hover in mid-air, just as they do in the book. And don't miss the visitor in the skylight.

Original artwork from many of the featured books runs along the walls -- there's even a queen-size quilt silk-screened by Ms. Ringgold that depicts scenes from "Tar Beach."

Directly under the paintings, brilliant swatches of cotton in African-inspired patterns form a bolster that invites kids to prop up their elbows and stay a while.

The books are displayed in cases that have steps kids can climb for a closer look. The signature illustration for the exhibit is from "The River That Gave Gifts" by Ms. Humphrey, who lives in Baltimore. It graces the cover of the 16-page brochure that introduces the books and their artists and also gives kids space and inspiration to think up their own stories and draw their own dreams.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Baltimore City Life Museums and the Enoch Pratt Library are running a storytelling series. Tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Central Branch, the subject will be "From Anansi to Zimwi." On Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Peale Museum, it will be "Brothers and Sisters."

Peale Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free every Saturday; other days it's $1.75 for adults, $1.25 for senior citizens and 75 cents for children. The museum is at 225 Holliday St., one block north of City Hall. Call (410) 396-1149.

* Baltimore native Karen Hesse, who now lives in Vermont, will be in town next week to visit relatives and sign books at the B. Dalton's in Owings Mills Mall from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 20.

Ms. Hesse has two new books out: "Lester's Dog" (Crown, $13, 32 pages, ages 4-7) and "Lavender" (Henry Holt, $14.95, 40 pages, ages 7-9). Puffin has also issued her two earlier novels in paperback: "Letters from Rifka" ($3.99, 160 pages, ages 8-12) and "Wish on a Unicorn" ($3.99, 112 pages, ages 8-12).

"Lester's Dog" is set in Ms. Hesse's old Northwest Baltimore neighborhood, on West Garrison Avenue near Pimlico Road. It is a fine example of her ability to say so much in a spare way. The story is told in the first person by a boy about 8. He lives down the block from Lester and Lester's dog, a car-chasing, part-German shepherd who bit the narrator when he was 6.

The boy's close friend and neighbor is Corey, who is hearing-impaired. They don't communicate by speaking, but they accomplish big things: Corey gets the narrator to help him save a kitten, and in the process, the narrator discovers courage he never knew he had.

"Lavender" also focuses on a relationship. This time the narrator is Codie, a girl about 9, whose favorite aunt, Alix, is about to have her first baby. Just when Codie starts to think her aunt won't have any more time for her once the baby settles in, she learns there will be plenty of love to go around.

* Local author Priscilla Cummings has a new book in the "Chadwick" series: "Chadwick Forever," illustrated by A. R. Cohen (Tidewater Publishers, $8.95, 30 pages, ages 6-9). Chadwick the crab and his wife, Esmerelda, return from their honeymoon to find their friends at Shady Creek in a tizzy about the endangered species among them. The story centers on Hester the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, but also mentions the piping plover, the Maryland darter and Puritan tiger beetles.

Ms. Cummings will be one of several authors signing books at Stepping Stones in downtown Bel Air (24 E. Pennsylvania Ave.) the next couple of weeks. She will be there Nov. 20, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Poet John Archibault will be at Stepping Stones to sign and read and perform from his books, including "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "Barn Dance," tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Local author Linda Lowe Morris will sign copies of "Morning Milking" from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.Nov. 27.

* David Wisniewski, whose work includes "Rain Player," "Elfwyn's Saga" and "Sundiata," will appear Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Crofton branch of the Anne Arundel County Public Library. Children ages 4-12 and their parents are invited. Registration is not required.

* Stephanie Calmenson will give a presentation and sign her books, including "Dinner at the Panda Palace" and "What Am I: Very First Riddles," at Border's in Towson Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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