Golden Legacy

Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books

2022 Exhibit Dates
Jan 19 To Mar 30

America’s beloved Little Golden Books were first released in 1942 and sold over 1.5 million copies within five months. The books were originally written and illustrated by the Artists and Writers Guild, printed by Western Printing, and published by Simon & Schuster. The first twelve books included:

Three Little Kittens, Bedtime Stories, The Alphabet from A to Z, Mother Goose, Prayers for Children, The Little Red Hen, Nursery Songs, The Poky Little Puppy, The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, Baby’s Book, The Animals of Farmer Jones, and This Little Piggy.

The company used strategic marketing, a uniform size and look, a modest selling price (25 cents), and captivating illustrations to sell Little Golden Books. By the late 1940s, Little Golden Books sought out illustrators awarded The American Library Association’s Caldecott Medal to add prestige to the books, which were not endorsed by librarians. The first Caldecott illustrator was Elizabeth Orton Jones who created artwork for Little Red Riding Hood.

Other Caldecott award-winning illustrators through the years included: Alice and Martin Provensen, Leonard Weisgard, Feodor Rojankovsky, Trina Schart Hyman, and David Diaz. Work by these artists is included in the traveling exhibition at The Gallery at Penn College, as well as work by other prestigious Little Golden Books illustrators, including: Tibor Gergely, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Eloise Wilkin, Aurelius Battaglia, Sheilah Beckett, Garth Williams, Mary Blair, Jack Kent, Richard Scarry, Gertrude Elliot, Corinne Malvern, Jan Pfloog, A.Birnbaum, Mary Blair, J.P.Miller, Gustaf Tenggren, Bob Staake, Dan Yaccarino, Hilary Knight, Annie Won, Nicola Slater, and Brigette Barrager.

This exhibit was curated by Leonard Marcus, author of Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books, and showcases 65 original illustrations. It is the most extensive public showing of original illustration art from American publishing’s best loved and most consequential picture-book series, Little Golden Books.

This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

This exhibit is dedicated to Veronica Muzic (1936 – 2019)

Veronica Muzic joined Williamsport Area Community College, the predecessor of Pennsylvania College of Technology, as an English instructor in 1968 and retired as chief academic officer in 2006. She was awarded its first Master Teacher award in 1982 and when she retired from full-time service, the college named the Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award in her honor. She was passionate about education and the arts, and in her nearly four decades of teaching and administrative leadership, she promoted fairness and equality in and out of the classroom and was a popular teacher and selfless mentor to students, alumni, and colleagues. She began both the Women’s Series and SMART Girls at the college, the former bringing a collection of prominent authors to campus in the 1980s, their work integrated into the instructional curriculum; and the latter sidestepping stereotypes to encourage young women to consider math- and science-related careers. Muzic was also a force in the greater community through service to organizations including the League of Women Voters, the YWCA of Northcentral Pennsylvania, the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, the South Williamsport Education Foundation, and the Community Arts Center.

A New Deal for the Nursery: Golden Books and the Democratization of American Children's Book Publishing (This event was held February 2, 2022)

In the 1940s, Golden Books revolutionized American children’s literature by making quality picture books available everywhere for just 25 cents each. In this illustrated presentation, renowned historian Leonard Marcus tells the behind-the-scenes tale of the visionary enterprise that brought together top-flight artists, writers, and marketing wizards to make Golden Books a household name.

Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world’s leading writers about children’s books and the people who create them. He is the author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon, The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, and Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books, among other books, and is the editor You Can't Say That!, a collection of conversations about censorship and the literature for young people. Leonard has written frequently for the New York Times Book Review and has been a commentator on radio and television. He is a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum and Editor at Large at Astra Publishing House.