SUMMONED BY BOOKS by Frances Clarke Sayers


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Frances Clarke Sayers is a children's librarian who writes so gracefully and makes her points so strongly that her style can only be described as an iron fist in a velvet glove pushing a pen. In this collection of her speeches from over the last 30 years or more (several do not carry footnotes describing when or where they were given) there is a continuing sense of children's books as literature not to be set apart by special criteria or used for special pleading no matter how worthy the cause. For those adults who examine children's books in the light of whether or ""We not they might disturb the child, Mrs. Savers says, are very tender, it seems to me of the young, and tenderness is no preparation for a world half mad and savage."" There is one speech which, perhaps, might better have been left out: ""The Belligerent Profession,"" delivered in 1947. In it, Mrs. Sayers objects to The Library Inquiry which was then underway and shows no understanding of research. That study has done more for the profession than all the lofty-- and not to be denigrated -- ideals of dedicated children's librarians. Mrs. Sayers' 1937 speech, ""Lose Not the Nightingale,"" demonstrates the weakness of the 1947 one; the same problems, the same professional conflicts are as prevalent today as then and 28 intervening years of eloquence have not solved them. (Research, anyone?) Despite this, the collection should find its place among the other fine books which capture that spirit of dedication and ""passionate response"" which characterizes the magic felt by those who work with and for children.

Publisher: Viking