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Events Celebrate May Massee Collection

A number of special events are planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the May Massee Collection of children’s literature materials held in Emporia State University’s Special Collections and Archives.

This collection was assembled in honor of pioneering children’s book editor May Massee, who was active from the early 1920s through the early 1960s and published many classic books, such as “The Story of Ferdinand” and “Madeline.” Items in the collection include over 1,200 books and 3,200 original illustrations, as well as manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and May Massee’s custom-built office from Viking Press.

Saturday, June 18, the anniversary of the collection’s dedication in 1972, has been proclaimed as May Massee Day by the Emporia City Commission. On that day, Special Collections and Archives will host a May Massee Collection 50th Anniversary Party at William Allen White Library.

The party will begin at 11 a.m. with a free hot dog lunch for the first 75 guests outside on the lawn. At 11:30, a brief program will be presented in the Library Learning Commons, and cupcakes and ice cream will be served. From noon to 2 p.m., fun activities for all ages will take place throughout the building, including storytime, a come-and-go art activity led by the Emporia Arts Council and exhibits of artifacts and artwork from the May Massee Collection.

At 3 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays — July 13 and 20 — Special Collections and Archives will host all-ages book discussions of children’s books published by May Massee. The book for the July 13 discussion is “The Chestry Oak,” written and illustrated by Newbery Medal winner Kate Seredy and published in 1948. Set in Hungary during World War II, it tells the story of a young boy named Michael, whose father is the prince of the Chestry Valley, and his experiences as the invading Nazis take control.

The book for the July 20 discussion is “Time of Wonder,” written and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Medal winner Robert McCloskey and published in 1957. It tells the story of two sisters, who are based on McCloskey’s own daughters, exploring nature as they spend the summer on an island off the coast of Maine.

Discussions will take place in the Special Collections and Archives exhibit hall outside Room 119 of William Allen White Library. Copies of “The Chestry Oak” and “Time of Wonder” are available for checkout at the circulation desk on the library’s second floor.