This must be the year for picture biographies of world-changing women. Last Read Aloud Thursday I highlighted a new biography of Elizabeth Blackwell, and today I’m sharing a new book I like every bit as much as that one. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough is the story of one Anne Carroll Moore, whose life spanned the turn of the twentieth century and who had “ideas of her own.” At nineteen she made the unconventional decision to become a lawyer like her father. Then tragedy struck and she became the surrogate mother to her brother’s children after their mother died. Just about the time she was released from this responsibility by her brother’s marriage, Miss Moore learned that libraries were hiring women librarians. This possibility exhilarated her, so she headed to New York City to enroll in the Pratt Institute library school. What followed was a lifetime of passion given to a career for which Miss Moore was perfectly suited. She eventually became the manager of all the children’s sections of the thirty-six branches of the New York Public Library. She made all sorts of changes in the libraries, from allowing the children to actually touch the books (!!!) and take them home to improving the book selections. Finally, the crowning achievement of her career was the development of a fantastic children’s room in the newly constructed New York Public Library (yes, the one with the lions out front). After the library opened, she did innovative things like inviting children’s authors there to read their works to using a wooden doll she named Nicholas Knickerbocker as a prop to draw shy children out of themselves. Even after the finally retired, Miss Moore went on a cross-country mission to teach other librarians how to develop their own children’s collections. Truly, her influence cannot be measured.
Debby Atwell’s acrylic illustrations are colorful and cheerful, just like Miss Moore’s children’s room at the NYPL, and they make an already great story even better. The refrain throughout this delightful book is the same as the title: “Miss Moore thought otherwise.” Aren’t we glad she did? Highly Recommended. (Houghton Mifflin, 2013)