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Friday, March 4, 2011

A Different Kind of Book Vandal

Some lucky people are blessed with artistic skills. I admire these people. I envy these people. I am not one of these people. I can squeak by during a kid's arts & crafts program (although my crafts tend to fit in "glue things to construction paper" category). So when my coworker recently found this picture in a library book, I was struck with a few different feelings: 

I'm not sure, but I THINK the signature says "Picasso."
1) Frustration: this is the practical librarian in me talking. When will kids learn to not write/draw in books? Don't they know it means we will probably have to weed it from the collection? (Rhetorical questions, obviously.)

2) Nostalgia: this looks just like the kind of art I used to make when I was a kid, right down to the V-shaped birds in the sky. Do they teach that skill in school?

3) Awe/Confusion: I can't help but wonder why this child decided to make his/her artistic debut in a library book. The picture is not just a bit of flippant vandalism - it obviously took some time, consideration, and care. And while it's perfectly lovely (like I said, I know nothing about art), the picture is unrelated to the content of the novel in which it's drawn. Why HERE? Why NOW? I suppose we'll never know. 

In conclusion: if you're reading a library book and you're suddenly filled with artistic spirit and you just HAVE to draw something or you'll burst, ask the librarain for some blank paper and crayons and color your little heart out. I'll bet the librarian will even hang your masterpiece on the wall when you're finished. (Just don't forget to sign it. )


  1. Which book was it? Something by Freud?

  2. Ha. That would have been too perfect. This was found in a copy of Praying at the Sweetwater Motel by April Young Fritz (2003).

  3. I'm fifty and if I drew trees and birds it would look the same. (Uh. It wasn't me, though.)

  4. This would totally make my day if I found it scribbled in a book. Hope y'all didn't actually weed it.

  5. I make a point of buying used books with pictures drawn inside of them. My favorite is a copy of ULYSSES with a sketch of a football game (back when they had leather helmets) in the middle. Also, I have a copy of RETURN OF THE NATIVE with a giant watercolor rainbow staircase painted on the endpaper.

  6. What was on the other side of the page, out of curiosity?

  7. I like your article very much, since I found it sincere.
    Frustration? Everytime I found a kid's drawing, even though it can be on one of my drawings, last thing I feel is frustration. It normally puts a smile on my face, which of course I hide from them. Believe me they'd feel guilty just by you showing them that their art happens to be on the wrong spot.
    I get the nostalgic part, but normally I end this feeling by grabbing some of my crayons, color pencils, markers and simply letting my inner child play around.
    Confusion? No I don't think kids plan these things. They actually can't resist a blank page or spot, because their creative side speaks louder. They want to draw their ideas and we adult mistakenly repress this divine part of them. Well, at least it is how I remember... When I was a little girl I wanted to colorful the wide world.
    I understand Johnathan. I always find those beautiful drawings in my bought used books as priceless treasures.
    I'm a designer and I can tell you from experience that are very few of us that born with this gift. Luckily, most of us go to College, learn and practice long hours. I guess it's like Demosthenes... Practice and passion for what you do is the secret.
    And yes your heart is right, it doesn't matter you know nothing about art... Take my word for it, these are absolutely the best of their kind.

  8. Tony: it was the title page.

    It DID make my day to find this. But I still can't support the defacement of library materials. After all, we don't have a big enough budget to replace everything.

    (Please note: this comment - and my original post - should be viewed as tongue-in-cheek. Maybe I need to use a sarcasm font?)

  9. I purchased a book written in the late 1800s and I find the margin notes, doodles, pressed flowers and news clippings to be as valuable and humanizing as the book itself...hopefully books last forever...for some people its a sense of immortality if they know it or not.

  10. Great story. Could the book have been donated and perhaps the adornment was made before the donation? Maybe 11-13-09 was the kid's birthday?