Dangerous Neighbors: Work commences on a teacher's guide, and gratitude for a beautiful review

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In October of 2008, the Please Touch Museum, the first museum in the U.S. designed specifically for children aged seven and under, opened the doors to its new home in Philadelphia's Memorial Hall—an act of revitalization genius.  For it was there, in this gorgeous Beaux-Arts building, that the nearly 10 million visitors who came to Philadelphia's Centennial Exhibition in 1876 took in the sculpture, paintings, and engravings of artists from 19 different countries.  In total, the 250 buildings that comprised the Centennial Exhibition covered nearly 285 West Philadelphia acres.  Today, nearly all of those buildings are gone; Memorial Hall, thanks to ardent preservationists, doesn't just remain.  It thrives.

It also explains.  For in the generous basement of the Please Touch Museum sits this 20' x 30' model of the fairgrounds.  Built in 1889 and transported from place to place until it was given this remarkable home, the model recreates the Exhibition at a 1 to 192 ratio.  The photograph above is of the Main Exhibition building, where much of the action in Dangerous Neighbors takes place. 

I was thinking about all of this today for two reasons.  First, because Serena Agusto-Cox has published today her very thoughtful description and analysis of Dangerous Neighbors on her popular blog, Savvy Verse & Wit, prompting, as she does, a conversation among her avid readers (thank you, Serena, and thank you, Serena's readers). 

Additionally, yesterday I was honored by an email from Elizabeth Mosier, who read the book at once (how she does this sort of thing, with her schedule, I'll never know) and wrote to me with a list of word-spreading ideas.  One of those involved the creation of a teacher's guide, an idea I've been playing with for some time.  I'm not sure I'd have jumped the fence, however, had Elizabeth not encouraged me in that direction.  And so today, at the foot of this desk, sit many of the books and newspaper/magazine articles that helped me find my way into the Centennial.  I'm going to take my time creating this guide, and I'll post about it when it is done.  But between now and then, picture me developing classroom prompts around topics ranging from progress to feminism to sibling love and rivalry. 

All ideas, as always, are welcome.




bermudaonion said...

I love the idea of a Please Touch museum - I'm way over the age group it was intended for, but I still love to touch things.

I saw Serena's review this morning and she has me excited about Dangerous Neighbors - her reviews are fantastic!

Elizabeth Mosier said...

Oooh, I love that model! I want to visit that basement with dollhouse people and play in it!

I think, with this blog entry, you've already begun to write your teachers' guide!


Serena said...

Please touch museums don't have age limits! I love them. I think a teacher's guide would be great. I wish you luck with that and keep writing great books...they will find homes.

Lilian Nattel said...

The teacher's guide is genius--I'm glad she prompted you!

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