Jay Leno, Madonna, Billy Crystal, Julie Andrews, and Whoopi Goldberg are talented, wealthy, and famous. Less known is their authorship of children’s books–some of which will be on display later this month at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library. Bill Gosling, former head of the U-M Libraries, put together the show with the help of grad student Holly Sorsher. Gosling’s spending his retirement years as a part-time volunteer cataloguer, and he says he was intrigued “as familiar names began to appear on the shelves of people NOT known for writing children’s books.” His favorites in the exhibit, which opens October 18, include Jay Leno’s “silly, nonsense book If Roast Beef Could Fly, a story based on the comedian’s childhood.” And, he says, “for sheer impact I like Alice by Whoopi Goldberg”–the comedian’s take on Lewis Carroll’s classic is “fabulously written.”
Although the books will be behind glass, Gosling hopes that the famous names on dust jackets will leave kids and their parents eager to read them. (The AADL has Leno’s book in its children’s department.) Ann Arborite Tom Pohrt illustrated (from photos) Finding Susie by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Another Michigan illustrator, David Small, did the pictures for the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s 2006 book, My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington. Small will never forget his meeting in D.C. with the last of the legendary brothers–“he threw tennis balls to his dogs,” he recalls. But the title with the biggest buzz will appear near the end of the exhibit’s run on November 29: Barack Obama’s picture book Of Thee I Sang: Letter to My Daughter comes out on November 16.