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November 7, 2002

Author Ellen Handler Spitz
Will Read From and Speak About Her Book
Inside Picture Books

Inside Picture BooksIn honor of Children's Book Week, the UMBC Bookstore features a reading of Inside Picture Books by the author, Ellen Handler Spitz, professor in the Honors College and the Department of Visual Arts, on Saturday, November 23rd, at 11 a.m. in the UMBC Bookstore. A discussion and question-and-answer session will follow the presentation.

Mention a name from a beloved childhood picture book--Madeline, Corduroy, Peter Rabbit, Max and his "wild things"--and most adults can recollect a bright image, fragments of a story, the timbre of a certain reading voice, the sensation of being held, and best of all being together with someone and enveloped in fantasy. Why do picture book images shown to us as young children linger in our minds? How do picture books shape our lives early on and even later into adulthood? This book takes up such questions. It explores the profound impact of the experience of reading to children. Ellen Handler Spitz reveals how classic picture books transmit psychological wisdom, convey moral lessons, shape tastes, and implant subtle prejudices.

Each chapter of the book discusses well-known children's books--Goodnight Moon, Babar, Little Black Sambo, to name a few--that deal with a theme of importance to young children. These include bedtime, separation, loss, and death; curiosity, disobedience, and punishment; and identity and self-acceptance. Focusing on the relationship between a child and an adult reader, Spitz explains the notion of "conversational reading" and emphasizes the mutual benefits of dialogue and intimacy. This book not only gives parents, grandparents, teachers, therapists, and scholars a new understanding of the meaning of picture books, it also empowers adults to interpret and choose future cultural experiences for their children.

Autographed copies of the book will be available. During this event and for the day, all children's books will be on sale at 25% off.

"There is something fine and rare in Ms. Spitz's book, with its interpretations of picture books ranging from Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon to Marjorie Flack's Story About Ping....Ms. Spitz speaks to her readers not as an academic but as a practiced read-aloud, knowing the relationship between storyteller and listener."
--Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

About Ellen Handler Spitz
Ellen Handler Spitz is a Professor in UMBC's Honors College as well as in the Department of Visual Arts. She was educated at Barnard College and at Harvard and Columbia Universities; in addition, she studied at the Art Students League in New York, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at SUNY, Purchase, under Antonio Frasconi. She has held year-long fellowships at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in Santa Monica, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University (formerly, the Bunting Institute), and at the Center for Advanced Study, Stanford University. She has taught and/or lectured in England, France, Italy, Israel, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Russia, Canada, and the People's Republic of China. She is the author of Art and Psyche (Yale, 1985), Image and Insight (Columbia, 1991), Museums of the Mind (Yale, 1994), and Inside Picture Books (Yale, 1999). With several colleagues, she co-edited Freud and Forbidden Knowledge (1994) and Bertolucci's Last Emperor (1998), and she has published numerous articles, chapters, and reviews. At UMBC, she teaches interdisciplinary seminars that involve philosophy, psychology, literature, and the performing arts as well as visual culture.

UMBC Bookstore: 410-455-BOOK (2665)
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

UMBC Bookstore:
UMBC Arts website:
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Inside Picture Books page at Yale University Press:

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Posted by dwinds1 at November 7, 2002 12:00 AM