The Kerlan Collection of children’s literature at the Elmer L. Andersen Library at the University of Minnesota officially opened its latest exhibit, “The ABC of It” on February 27 with a program featuring Leonard S. Marcus, author of The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter (Univ. of Minnesota Press, Feb.), which did double-duty as the exhibit’s catalogue. Hundreds of people—many of them children’s book authors and librarians—braved the cold to check out this adaptation of an exhibit that was displayed in 2013 at the New York Public Library, curated by Marcus. The highlight of the evening at the Kerlan was a 45-minute conversation about children’s literature, replete with personal anecdotes, between Marcus, who traveled to Minneapolis from New York City for the occasion, and the exhibit’s curator, Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Kerlan Collection. The evening ended with a book signing, with a table staffed by a bookseller from Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, which featured some of the children’s books displayed in the exhibit, as well as The ABC of It.

The exhibit revolved around the “great green room” from Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, which was constructed in the rotunda of the library; the rest of the exhibit wound upward on the walls of the library’s two upper floors. Photo: Claire Kirch.

A couple of attendees enjoying the exhibit. Photo: Paula Keller.

Children’s book author David LaRochelle examines a display. Photo: Claire Kirch.

The exhibit includes collages created by Melissa Sweet that replicate her illustrations in Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Photo: Margi Preus.

A handwritten draft of Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola. Photo: Margi Preus.

The Kerlan has extensive holdings of author-illustrator Wanda Gág’s manuscripts and artwork. Gág was born in Minnesota in 1893 and moved to New York City at age 20. Photo: Claire Kirch.

Visitors taking photos of themselves with a larger-than-life-size Poky Little Puppy. The Poky Little Puppy, published in 1942, was written by Janette Sebring Lowrey and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. Photo: Paula Keller.

Marcus and Von Drasek engage in a discussion about the evolution of children’s literature over the centuries. Von Drasek wrote the foreword to The ABC of It. Photo: Claire Kirch.

The program began with a video of University of Minnesota and City of Minneapolis notables—including former mayor R.T. Rybak—sitting in the “great green room” and taking turns reading Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Photo: Paula Keller.

Children’s book author Margi Preus drove to Minneapolis from her home in Duluth to read the Spanish-language edition of Goodnight Moon in the “great green room” in the rotunda. Preus told PW that it was “a dream come true” for her. Photo: Claire Kirch.

The “great green room” drew (from l.) illustrator Nick Wroblewski, University of Minnesota Press publicist Heather Skinner, UMP editor Erik Anderson, and author Preus.

Karen Nelson Hoyle (l.), the Kerlan’s founding curator, takes a turn in the “great green room” with Marcus and Von Drasek. Photo: Paula Keller.