By ERIN ALLEN
On Jan. 5 beloved children’s author Katherine Paterson officially took over the role of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, succeeding Jon Scieszka. (See Information Bulletin, January/February 2010.) Several top-tier news outlets covered the ceremony, which was attended by D.C.-area school children.
New York Times reporter Motoko Rich spoke with Paterson on the eve of her appointment. “Now, as ambassador … Ms. Paterson hopes to share the unfettered pleasure that reading can deliver,” wrote Rich. Quoting Paterson, Rich continued, “I think of all the joy reading has given me. It is not just because it is good for you, but because it is good.”
“The Stinky Cheese Man has been replaced by the Queen of Terabithia,” declared David Montgomery, reporter for The Washington Post.
“Indeed, many of the other students also turned out to be what you might call Stinky Cheese Terabithians, fans of both the incoming and outgoing ambassadors, which helped Librarian of Congress James Billington and the others behind the ambassadorships make their larger point,” he continued.
Kathleen T. Horning of School Library Journal dubbed Paterson “Katherine the Great, adding, “There couldn’t be a better choice for our new kids’ book ambassador.” Horning interviewed Paterson following the announcement of her ambassadorship.
In response to Horning’s question about Paterson’s platform, “Read for Your Life,” Paterson said, “’Your life’ means not just your solitary life but your family and your classroom and your community and your world. It’s about the importance of literature for our lives and for the general good. We’ve forgotten about the general good. Unless you have a reading, thinking population, the general good goes out the window. I think it’s very important to read things you don’t agree with, for example, and to be open to learning about the way other people believe and think, including the religions and ideas of cultures that are quite different from our own.”
An ambassador in his own right, delivering a message of peace and democracy, the Dalai Lama visited the Library in February to receive the Democracy Service Medal from the National Endowment for Democracy.
Outlets running stories were predominantly international, including several from Australia, France, Japan and India.
Also at the Library for a brief visit is the rarely seen 400-year-old Matteo Ricci world map, the first Chinese map to show the Americas. It is on display through April 10, alongside the 1507 Waldseemüller map. (See Information Bulletin, January/February 2010.)
Edward Rothstein of The New York Times noted that “the map portrays the crossroads of two great civilizations. Even as Ricci shifted the geographic center of Western global maps, filling in detailed outlines of China and other regions from Chinese cartographers and annotating the whole in Chinese, he also added a frame that was both rationalist and religious, celebrated Western science and faith and created a culturally hybrid vision of the earthly cosmos.”
“I can see these two maps talking to each other: a dialogue between East and West,” said Deanna Marcum, associate librarian for Library Services, who was quoted in an article in The Virginian-Pilot.
Also running stories about the map were The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Scripps-Howard News Service, the Associated Press, the Pittsburgh
Tribune Review, The Boston Globe, The Guardian (London), The New Zealand Herald and several Canadian outlets, included the CanWest News Service, the National Post, The Gazette, the Edmonton Journal, The Calgary Herald, The Vancouver Sun and the Ottawa Citizen.
Erin Allen is acting editor of The Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.