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Notes on our title

May 16, 2010

As we prepare for screenings later in 2010, it might be worth noting the genesis of the title of the film.

Adam Gopnik, author and essayist

“Library of the Early Mind” is the coinage of Adam Gopnik, children’s author and longtime essayist with The New Yorker magazine.

In September of 2008, Gopnik published an essay entitled “Freeing The Elephants,” which explored the way that the famous children’s stories about Babar the Elephant represented a level of cultural indoctrination for generations of French children.

In that essay, Gopnik writes this:

The Babar books are among those half-dozen picture books that seem to fix not just a character but a whole way of being, even a civilization. An elephant, lost in the city, does not trumpet with rage but rides a department-store elevator up and down, until gently discouraged by the elevator boy. A Haussmann-style city rises in the middle of the barbarian jungle. Once seen, Babar the Frenchified elephant is not forgotten. With Bemelmans’s “Madeline” and Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” the Babar books have become part of the common language of childhood, the library of the early mind.

Given that it was this essay that spurred my interest in doing a documentary on the deeper aspects of children’s literature, and the fact that Adam Gopnik lent his always lucid thoughts on literature to the film, it seemed fitting.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 19, 2010 7:11 pm

    Wow… these clips suggest some deep and interesting conversation going on with these amazing authors and illustrators. It seems the documentarians persuaded some secrets out of them (or perhaps just allowed them time to talk past the surface answers.) I can’t wait to see this!

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