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Friends of the Libraries: Children's book hints at Civil Rights Movement

July 11, 2013|By Mary Ellen Goddard

While looking at some newspaper clippings at the Costa Mesa Historical Society recently, I found one from the Globe-Herald (predecessor of the Daily Pilot) for Sept. 29, 1948. Titled "Costa Mesa Library Gives Wide Service," it noted some of the services and collections that were available there. It also listed some of the new children's books that had recently been received.

One of them, for first-graders, was "Two Is a Team" by Lorraine and Jerrold Beim. This book, published in 1945, is mentioned in Elizabeth Goodenough's book, "Infant Tongues: The Voice of the Child in Literature." Goodenough says that this is a time when the Truman Administration had integrated the Armed Forces for the first time in history, and a Civil Rights Commission was appointed.

Some books, including children's books, produced fictional attempts looking at racial prejudice and injustice. "Two Is a Team" "became the first picture book to show an interracial friendship — and without mentioning race in the text. Only Ernest Crichlow's illustrations revealed that one little boy was black and the other white."

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Over in Santa Monica

I checked out the website of the new Santa Monica Public Library recently and found that it not only has a café located in its central courtyard, but among the many amenities it has that we would like to have here in Costa Mesa is an exhibition area. At present, it has several paintings on display that are on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. If anyone is interested in seeing the library, docent-led tours are offered the third Friday of each month at 12:30 p.m.

At the Costa Mesa/Donald Dungan Library

I had hoped to be able to give you the opening date of this library by now, but the walk-through with the contractor was scheduled after I turned in this article. When it is shown that the contractor has completed his work, then the janitors will go through to clean the building. Finally, the library staff will have to reshelve books, etc., and get everything set up for the opening. If everything magically falls into place, the library might be open by the week of the 22nd, but there is always a little slippage, so it may be end of the month. Watch for it! The Children's Summer Reading Program will be held at the library from the time the library opens near the end of July through August. So if your children have been having fun at the Mesa Verde Library Summer Reading Program, they can go to the Dungan Library and do it all over again.

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