March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Jarrett J. Krosoczka Art Graces Library in Northampton, MA

Over the years, Northampton, MA, has become a mecca for children’s book authors and illustrators. Local kidlit figures include Mo Willems, Angela and Tony DiTerlizzi, and Jane Yolen. The city’s Forbes Library is also near the Eric Carle Museum.

Jude McGowan, former children’s department head at the library, decided to highlight the kidlit connection—by inviting illustrator and author Jarrett J. Krosoczka to brighten up the children’s department. Krosoczka created a mural that transformed the stairwell leading to the kids’ area into an immersive space.

It’s “a fantastical version of downtown Northampton, with animals and child characters taking joy in the act of reading,” Krosoczka says. The characters are at the young readers’ eye level, with the design flowing toward the children’s area.

In the mural, 35 children’s book covers appear in Northampton building windows, featuring familiar titles such as Norman Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, Jeanne Birdsall’s “Penderwicks” series, and Aaron Becker’s “Journey” trilogy.

The community response? “Exuberant,” said children’s librarian Katharine Janeczek. “Children love spotting books, characters, and Northampton landmarks.”

At the opening reception last November, Krosoczka invited young patrons to draw flowers on the part of the mural that depicts the Forbes Library. On June 17, the library bestowed its annual Trustee Award on Krosoczka for his contribution.

Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.

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