The Middle Ages in Books for Children

Come and be dazzled by the middle ages and see the exhibit of children’s books and art celebrating medieval history, tales and legends.

September 14 – December 7
Mon. to Fri from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.-6
Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books
Located on the 4th floor of Lillian H. Smith branch
239 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1R5

Admission is free.
Groups, please call ahead, (416) 393-7753.

What do Valentine and Orson, the two sons of the Emperour [sic] of Greece (1688), the Jell-O advertising booklet Robin Hood’s Toll (1923), The Paper Bag Princess (1980) and The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane (2012) have in common? All utilize stories, settings, and/or characters from medieval literature and history. This exhibit brings together materials from Osborne Collection holdings which relate to the thousand-year period, spanning 500 to 1500, known as the Middle Ages. Tales of chivalry, knightly deeds, damsels, tournaments, castles, dragons, pageantry and quests are central to our romanticized view of the Middle Ages. Many modern writers of “creative nonfiction” take the opportunity to engage with multiple perspectives when presenting medieval history to children. Among the titles on view in case 14 are: Saladin, Noble Prince of Islam and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies, a collection of monologues for children as spoken by young people living in or around a thirteenth-century English manor. The varied cast includes characters ranging from lord’s daughter and miller’s son, to runaway and beggar.

The exhibit includes:

Cases 1 to 9
Present retelling of stories which originated in, or were popular during the Middle Ages: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the legendary tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood, among others. Also included are children’s biographies of Joan of Arc, the national heroine of France, who lived during the fifteenth century.

Cases 10 to 12
Historical and fantasy fiction, set during medieval times. These are divided by original date of publication: from the nineteenth-century classic Ivanhoe, to Linda Sue Park’s Newbery Award-winning A Single Shard (2001), set in twelfth-century Korea. Here you will also find Osborne’s recently acquired first British edition of The Sword in the Stone, T.H. White’s fantasy novel about the boyhood of King Arthur.

Case 13
Additional tales and legends, such as the stories of Marie de France, El Cid, national epic of Spain, and Sundiata: Lion King of Mali. By no means an exhaustive selection, these represent a few among many books held at the Osborne Collection which contain medieval legends and folklore.

Cases 15 to 17
Explore these popular topics. Case 17, in particular, looks at the dragon slayer myth, from the legend of St. George, to Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon and J.R.R. Tolkien’s mock-heroic Farmer Giles of Ham.

Case 19
The invention of moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg, 1450. Gutenberg’s invention revolutionized humankind’s relationship to knowledge and the printed word, and helped launch Europe into the modern era. Books about Gutenberg, as well as examples of early printed books from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are displayed in this case.

Comments Off

Filed under Collections, Events and Programs

Comments are closed.