by Eleonore Schmid, Published by North-South Books, 1991, New York

Sometimes as bibliophiles, we find things that intrigue us in the strangest of places.  While at the MBS Conclave, I bid on a mixed bag of miniature things, a bid to participate rather than acquire a rare leather-bound edition.  In the bag was this small 4 1/2" x 3 3/8" paper-bound book. Always one trying to connect children to books, this one seemed to fit the bill for sure.  Every page is illustrated and the story text is short and to the point with a bit of a question about adventure for a child.

The story starts by explaining that “Gus lived all by himself in an old oak tree, like everyone else in his family, he slept the whole day long, for he was a dormouse.” As night came, it was always time to get something to eat, maybe nuts and insects. After a good summer of forage and when winter approached, it was time for a "long winter nap."  Gus had never seen Santa and knew he would have to stay awake to see Santa. He took a short nap but woke to ask the woodpecker if Santa was coming. "Not yet!" Gus traded conversation with the squirrel who promised to wake Gus at the right time. The snows began to fall and the foxes were out hunting when they saw the light at the edge of the forest. As the sounds of bells on Santa’s donkey gently filled the night air each of the forest animals began to gather in the clearing "waiting for Santa."  Santa arrived and Santa said, “I have gifts for each of you.” When done, Santa asked if he had forgotten anyone. The squirrel looked around but was confused and could not remember about Gus. The wise old owl remembered and hooted for Gus to wake up. The owl showed Gus the way back to Santa, who reached out with some dried apples for Gus and picked him up to say hello. Santa said, "Merry Christmas to all" and was on his way. All the animals left the clearing one by one, Gus, who had crept into Santa’s pocket and feel asleep.  




By Jim Brogan

Sometimes when we look at the sky, we see gray clouds and feel somewhat depressed by the possible coming weather. Please remember that gray clouds always give way to the bright sunshine and the puffy big clouds that inspire us to dream and move forward. That is the way I feel about the world of miniature books. When I have an opportunity to speak with people about collecting and the joy miniature books can bring, I can see the sparkles in their eyes. Children and young people have a different perspective about miniature books; they seem to see them as a ‘personal extension’ of themselves. Show a child a ‘blank book’ and they will immediately ask if they can add a story to the pages. Show them a handmade book or pamphlet and they will ask if you can show them how to make one for themselves. Their stories can range across the spectrum of subjects from adventures, to special events, or even a trip to the zoo. That is not to say that each child is a‘publisher in training’ but the message is clear. Young people like to express themselves and share their experiences. Once cultivated they may be the best teachers to share the skill with another person.

We, as experienced collectors and publishers have to be able to see the needs of others and be willing to open our doors and let young people and their families into our world. At The Miniature Book Society (MBS) Conclave this past August we were captivated by the learning and teaching adventures of The Creativity Caravan (Maya Stein and Amy Tingle) as they traveled across the United States with their books and art tools. All along the way, they helped people young and old to express themselves through the writing and creation of books. Young people are the focus of the message but I think a key ingredient to the recipe is the family. Children generally work best in group environments where they can share and exchange ideas and their work.

The MBS has other outreach tools in place such as their traveling exhibits, the annual book competition, and most recently their Student Assistance Grants.  Each of these tools has a slightly different target audience but they are all outreach tools intended to expand the world of miniature books.

What new ideas have you thought about,please share them. Sometimes the smallest seeds bring forth blooms that are beyond your wildest expectations. One quick idea is the use of blank books, such as those offered by Booksby Press, a miniature with maybe 50 pages, all blank that can be utilized to fulfill the enjoyment in any number of creative ways; handwritten text, hand drawn illustrations, cut-out, glued in images. All are the beginnings of books and book arts, for the young and nearly young to express themselves and to bring joy into the world of another.