At The ToonSeum, a Little Golden Books exhibit brings back memories | Art Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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At The ToonSeum, a Little Golden Books exhibit brings back memories

Even if you've never picked up a Little Golden Book, the artwork still impresses

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In 1942, Simon & Schuster took an enormous publishing gamble: It began producing inexpensive picture books for the masses without sacrificing quality in the process. The result was the internationally lauded Little Golden Books series. Parents and children alike have remained under the spell of those bright illustrations and timeless tales ever since. And although it now belongs to Random House, the series is still going strong today.

Take a trip down memory lane at the ToonSeum's Golden Legacy: Original Art From 65 Years of Golden Books. The National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, based in Texas, curated the 60-piece exhibition, which is the largest collection of Little Golden Books artwork ever displayed. The ToonSeum is one of only a handful of locations selected to feature Golden Legacy, further proof of the cartoon museum's unique role in Pittsburgh's art culture.

The books highlighted in the exhibit include ones you always loved, ones you never read, and those familiar titles that were part of your personal cache even if they weren't among your favorites. While the series adapted many famous stories, including several Disney fairy tales, the most popular books were originals. The Poky Little Puppy remains the true bastion of Golden Books, with almost 15 million copies sold since its 1942 release. Other beloved titles include The Color Kittens, Tawny Scrawny Lion and The Shy Little Kitten. Golden Legacy incorporates all of these favorites and more.

Even if you've never picked up a Little Golden Book, the artwork still impresses. Produced in an era of Technicolor films, the designs blend sharp details with high saturation. Famed author Richard Scarry, Disney animator Mary Blair and Caldecott Medal winner Trina Schart Hyman are a few of the more than one dozen illustrators spotlighted. And with scores of actual Golden Books available for perusal at the ToonSeum, visitors can read their childhood favorites, discover a new story or compare the artwork in the books to the originals on display.   

Over the years, most things lose their magic, but not this legacy. Little Golden Books just seem to get better with age.

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