For anyone who had the Little Golden Books as a child, a walk through the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library is a nostalgic trip down memory lane – back to a time when juice boxes were the beverage of choice and a Happy Meal was gourmet cuisine.
The Arne Nixon Center for Children’s Literature has sponsored two exhibitions that are together titled “Golden Threads: Journey through the Picture Book.”
In the first exhibit, “Golden Legacy: 65 Years of Golden Books,” 60 illustrations from many of the most famous books in the Little Golden Books series were brought in from the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas.
Arne Nixon Center librarian Jennifer Crow was one of the people responsible for bringing “Golden Legacy” to Fresno State. She found out about the exhibit after meeting with its founder, children’s book historian and author Leonard Marcus.
“The Arne Nixon Center had Leonard Marcus come two years ago, and he was talking about another artist’s and illustrator’s work,” Crow said. “He told us he had this traveling exhibit, and we heard rave reviews about it, so we made the decision to bring it here.”
Numerous artists have their work represented in the exhibit. Their names may not be familiar, but their work is.
Jami Sanford is the library service specialist for the Arne Nixon Center. She said that for those who do not know much about the artists, the exhibit would introduce them to the artists behind this recognizable work.
“A lot of them have been involved with Disney, so I think that was pretty cool to find that stuff out,” Sanford said. “You recognize the pictures, but you’re learning the information behind the pictures and how they came about.”
Illustrators like Richard Scarry of “Busytown” fame and Garth Williams, who would go on to do illustrations for “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” have work hanging in the exhibit, but everyone has their favorites.
“I think a lot of people know ‘The Poky Little Puppy,’ so of course that’s always a perennial favorite of everyone’s,” Crow said.
Gustaf Tenggren, who also contributed the well-known “Saggy Baggy Elephant” to the Golden Books series, illustrated “The Poky Little Puppy” after he worked for Walt Disney. He was a chief illustrator for films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio” and “Bambi.”
Sanford offered a different answer.
“I really like Mary Blair’s work,” she said. “It reminds me of ‘It’s a Small World’ at Disneyland, and then I like ‘The Three Little Bears’. There’s just a lot of fun stuff. Every time you go through, you notice something different.”
The other exhibit showcases the work of Salley Maver in “Pocketful of Posies” on the Pete P. Peters Ellipse Balcony on the third floor of the Henry Madden Library.
“Salley Maver is what she calls a fabric relief artist, so she does these 3-D illustrations in felt,” Crow said. “She also uses found objects like little rocks, beads, shells, sticks in these designs, and then she meticulously stitches everything, so it’s all this hand-stitched work.”
“Golden Threads: Journey through the Picture Book” will be on display in the Henry Madden Library until May 24. The exhibition runs during regular library hours and is open to the public.