By Helena Gondry
Hillsboro Library Friends
“Shepherd’s Pie, Wild Mushrooms and English Tea”
on Beatrix Potter
I have come to believe that the library is filled with adventure.
As soon as we go through the door, we magically become “patrons.”
We have our own library card, along with certain behaviors and other astonishments. I’ve noticed everyone tries to be polite and quieter than usual. We may even whisper to keep from disturbing the deep condensation, err I mean, concen- tration, of a patron, who may be a scholar-in-disguise.
Evidently, books can be located because they have been catalogued by genre (oh!) according to a secret code.
Books come in all shapes and sizes.
Beatrix Potter was a pioneer in creating a book small enough for a child’s hands to hold. To children, Beatrix’s animals are real. They have family, friends and habitats where they play and get into mischief.
Once published, Potter became famous and wrote a collection of stories or oeuvre. “Oeuvre?” Thank goodness there is always a dictionary in the library.
An example might be, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” but maybe not.
Illustrations are always an integral part of children‘s literature. Children can understand what is happening, even if they are too young to read. When there are giggles and gasps of surprise and you see fingers pointing here and there, you know that both reader and child are enchanted. Potter did her own illustrations and was an accomplished watercolorist. Upon close inspections and comparisons, one finds that she studied the natural sciences to which she added her creative imagination and a palette of pastel colors. One of her early mentors, Charles McIntosh, a naturalist, helped Potter develop her skills in the identification and drawing of fungi – the study of mycology – and became her first scientific collaborator.
The other day I checked out a children’s book, a true story about Vasily Kandinsky – The Noisy Paint Box, by B. Rosenstock. He became a renowned abstract impressionist painter with a courageous innovative artistry.
Rosenstock was born in Russia in 1866, the same year as Potter.
Within the constraints of the Victorian era, Potter, later in life, had the resources to live her passion for nature and the preservation of farmland.
Also at this time, the landscape of American art and literature was shifting. Romantic idealism faded away and the realities of a post Civil War with an impulse toward regionalism washed ashore. It was a period in world history that planted seeds in the expressive arts and witnessed their blossoming.
For inquisitive patrons who saunter through woodlands and library bookshelves, may I suggest:
Beatrix Potter, A life in Nature, by Linda Lear
Living with Sheep, by Chuck Wooster
Friday August 28, promises a day of delight at the Hillsboro Library.
In the afternoon, the elementary school children gather with Peter Rabbit and Friends.
In the evening, the community is invited to a potluck supper at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation: Beatrix Potter: The Author and Her Country Inspiration.
Beatrix Potter is portrayed by actress and award-winning writer Maria McKelvey. She will be assisted by Ann Troxell, North American Coordinator for the Reading Program of The Beatrix Potter Society. In her travels through the Pocahontas hills, she and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle will see a pastoral landscape similar to the Lake District of England that Potter loved.
Stella Callison, a Hillsboro sheep farmer, will join us, as well.