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The ABCs of Children's Book Illustration: Selections from the Zerzanek Collection of the Cedar Rapids Public Library

February 14 - May 17, 2015

Babar sketch illustrated by Laurent de Brunhoff, created about 1960. © Laurent de Brunhoff. All images from the Zerzanek Collection of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.
Unbeknownst to many in the Cedar Rapids community, the Cedar Rapids Public Library possesses an extraordinary collection of original children’s book illustration. Starting in the 1950s, an exceptional children’s librarian, Evelyn Zerzanek, asked children’s book authors and illustrators to donate a work for the children of Cedar Rapids. Over the course of fifteen years, the collection grew to more than 1,400 pieces, representing various scenes and characters from childhood classics. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which has housed the collection since 2008, is partnering with the Library to present a major exhibition of this little-known collection to a much broader audience.

The ABCs of Children’s Book Illustration presents several works from the Zerzanek Collection of Original Art from Children’s Literature. The exhibition is organized not by artist or date of production but rather in the form of an ABC book, spread out on the wall. While most of the illustrations are from published books, others were drawn specifically for the Library and have never been published. Still others were made for well-known books but for one reason or another were not included in the final version. Also in the exhibition are some pieces of correspondence that include original drawings, for example a letter from H. A. Rey with an image of Curious George, and another from Dr. Seuss with an original drawing of his dog Owlser. On display are also a few retirement wishes Miss Zerzanek received from various authors and illustrators, again including original artwork. In all cases, these works exemplify a golden age of children’s literature and illustration and are truly a treasure of this community.

This exhibition is made possible by Rockwell Collins, the Program Grant Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, members of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and contributors to the Museum’s Annual Fund.


Stephanie Ascher
on 04/22/15
My Children truly enjoyed the Museum today. Tahnk-You

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