Title: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise
Author: Jan Pinborough
Illustrator: Debby Atwell
Year published: 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Number of pages: 40
Recommended age: 6 to 9
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Summary (Publisher): Anne Carroll Moore created the first children’s room at the New York Public Library and, in the process, revolutionized library standards and practices around the world. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell introduces this influential woman to young readers.
In almost any public library today, you will find shelves brimming with books for children of all ages. But in 1911 – when the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street opened its doors for the first time – many libraries did not allow children to come inside, much less handle the books and check them out. Pioneering New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore played an important role in creating the children’s library as we know it today – a child-centered place with story hours, book-related activities, open book shelves, and borrowing privileges. Her work served as a model in countries around the world, she encouraged many important children’s authors, and her reviews helped children’s books gain more equal footing with books written for adults.
1. This is a non-fiction book. Did you enjoy it? I enjoyed it because it told the story of someone who used to live and is now dead.
2. What do you think about the cover and the pictures? I like the picture of the big white house at the start of the book because I want to go there. I also liked the picture of the Children’s Room in the New York Public Library. It looks comfy and I would like to go there too. The picture of New York City is cool – it’s one of my favorites.
3. What did you learn from this book? I learned that girls couldn’t do lots of stuff that they can now do and that kids weren’t allowed in libraries.
4. How are children treated differently today than the way they were in this book? Now children can go to libraries and then they couldn’t. It would be bad to not be able to go to the library because I get books and videos from the library all the time. Girls can do whatever they want and go to school to become lawyers and doctors. I know some girls who are doctors and lawyers like Dr. Lamb and Isabella’s Mom.
5. If you had to choose between going to the library and going to a bookstore where would you go and why? I would like to go to the bookstore because you get to keep the books that you buy. It makes me sad to return books to the library when I really like them.
6. What are your favorite books that you’ve read recently? I really like the Nature Elves series – Dream Robbers, The Witch Sticker Ball, and the Shadow Beast by R.C. Scott.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I learned some stuff with this book. I think boys and girls 20 years old and younger would like this book.
Son Rating: ★★★★☆
My Thoughts: Librarian Anne Carroll Moore revolutionized how libraries accommodate the needs of children and parents alike by advocating for and ultimately creating the first children’s library housed within the walls of the New York Public Library in 1911. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise introduces us to a spirited young Annie who always did things girls shouldn’t do in those days, like taking wild toboggan rides, learning her father’s trade by working alongside him in his laywer’s office, and ultimately packing up her bags and moving to Brooklyn, New York to enroll in the Pratt Institute Library School. Although childless herself, Annie worked as a children’s librarian, reading and recommending books to children and was among the first librarians to allow children to check books out of the library to bring home.
When it was announced that the massive New York Public Library was to be built, Miss Moore insisted on the inclusion of a children’s room and went so far as to attend to all the details of what it should look like and what should be in it. The Children’s Room was widely popular as Miss Moore organized entertainment for the children by inviting musicians, storytellers, and famous authors. Thanks to pioneers like Miss Moore, libraries across the globe now have well-loved and used Children’s Rooms.
Miss Moore Thought Otherwise is a sturdy hardcover book that is beautifully illustrated and tells the story of an exceptional woman who is truly inspiring. The timing of this review could not be better as it is Women’s History Month and it was a great opportunity to discuss with my children the history of women’s oppression globally. Despite growing up with a mother who has been involved in feminist advocacy for many years (me), I could not have anticipated my daughter’s reaction to this line:
In the 1870s many people thought a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery.
But that was nothing compared to the reaction we got when I read this line:
People didn’t think reading was very important for children – especially not for girls.
Oops! Did we never discuss how there was a time not so long ago where women could not vote, could not attend University, were considered their husband’s property (like a house), and so on and so on? Well, the ensuing discussion (and that was after only 3 pages of this book) was certainly an eye-opener for my daughter and my son. Both were incensed! Books like Miss Moore Thought Otherwise are a reminder that we musn’t be complacent when it comes to the treatment of marginalized populations within our society. Discrimination against groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigrant status, etc. is still widespread albeit in varying degrees. This book opened up a dialogue between myself and my children about these issues.
Outside of raising interesting discussion points, Miss Moore Thought Otherwise is a factual re-telling of an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to helping put books in the hands of children. From the time she was a child when her father read aloud to her family, to the time she traveled around America helping libraries design and build children’s rooms, Anne Carroll Moore truly played a critical role in cementing accessibility to children’s books by children themselves. I, for one, cannot imagine a world where children cannot peruse the shelves in the library to ultimately choose a book to bring home and treasure if only for a while. As I tell my son, “libraries are important because every child, regardless of how rich or poor they are, can find a book to take home and enjoy.” I also try to explain that we need to return them so “someone else can enjoy them.” That’s a seemingly more difficult concept to grasp!
My Bottom Line: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise is a well-written, beautifully illustrated account of the life of Anne Carroll Moore who helped created libraries for children in America which became the model for libraries around the world. I would recommend this book to children aged 5 years and older who enjoy reading non-fiction titles about historical figures whose actions resulted in a real perceivable change in society.
Mom Rating: ★★★★½
* This book was provided to us by the publisher free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
About the Author:
Jan Pinborough is the managing editor of a children’s magazine called Friend. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise is her first children’s book. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can visit her on-line at www.JanPinborough.com and www.missmoorethoughtotherwise.com.
About the Illustrator:
Debby Atwell is the acclaimed illustrator of many books, including Barn, Pearl, and River. She lives in Maine, close to Miss Moore’s childhood home. You can see more of her work at www.DebbyAtwell.com.