Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Esmé's Magic Bookroom

Ah, Esmé's bookroom. . . How can I describe this magical place? It's a fairy-tale apartment up several flights of winding stairs in a lusciously old-world looking building -- it has beamed ceilings, cool brickwork, arched doorways, and is inhabited by darling statues and artwork, robots and witches and hundreds -- nay, thousands -- of children's books. You just want to float from room to room touching things. Oh yeah, and you want to live here. But nobody does. It is just for the books.

Look -- here's the outside. And get this, these buildings are all bordering a park with no direct street access, so it's a quiet little oasis.

So, who is Esmé Raji Codell, and why does she have this amazing place? She is an author, librarian, and "certified readiologist," and in her own words:
"This private, non-circulating library and literary salon geared toward parents and elementary school teachers is dedicated to the principles found in How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esmé Raji Codell. Among them:
-- Reading is more than a skill; it's a lifestyle.
-- You can be your child's best teacher using children's literature.
-- No child is a lost cause when it comes to books any more than someone is a lost cause when it comes to falling in love; it's all about making the right connections.

It was located elsewhere until recently, and has only just now been moved into its current "Rapunzel's tower" location. Esmé hosted the "kidlitosphere" for brunch on Sunday and she was an amazing hostess. First of all, you must try this blintz recipe (You have to scroll all the way to the bottom.) I wanted to eat the whole thing! It was SO good. Plus, there was this fruit arrangment that looked like flowers!
I guess it was a gift from her husband, the artist Jim Pollock-- she too has an artist husband named Jim! And then there were the quiches and the bagels. . . yum! She said she'd been waking up from elaborate nightmares of not having enough food -- well, it was not a worry! Everything was exquisite.

Here are more pictures around the magic library:

And here is the bathroom:
A bird bath, plus theme books! SO CUTE! (Thanks to Mark for the photo -- I forgot to take one!)

She had also been a really fabulous hostess of the author/illustrator event on Saturday. If anyone is hosting something similiar, take note -- we've all been to events like this where there are lots of authors/illustrators in a room to meet & greet and they're usually sitting behind tables with their books, either for sale, or giving out bookmarks and postcards. And we don't know what to say to each other, sometimes, it's a little awkward like speed-dating. Well, Esmé's solution to this -- which was brilliant -- was to provide a poster, created by her husband -- that everyone could have everyone sign, kind of like a year book, and it gave the circulating a kind of purpose and ice-breaker that really got things going. Brilliant! Plus, the poster is a wonderful, colorful depiction of Johnny Appleseed (who, I loved to find out recently, was planting cider apples, not eating apples all that time, contributing to the boozing of America! Interesting story that, it's all about apple husbandry or whatever you'd call it, and the fact that if you plant an apple from seed, you will not get the same kind of apple as the one the seed came from. Apples are weird mutant things. You have to graft branches, not plant seeds, to get the kind you want. So cool! But totally off topic!)

So, wish me luck getting any work done today -- the furnace guy is coming to put in our new high-efficiency furnace. His name, apparently, is "Vlad" -- it took Jim all of three seconds to dub him "Vlad the Installer" - ha ha ha! I wonder if he'll have heard that one before. So, with a new furnace rather than our current useless antique jobby, it is just possible I will not be a poor little fleece-bundled icicle this winter, and also possible that I will not need to knit myself alpaca foot pajamas with alien deely boppers on top. I can stick to my oh-so-elegant polka-dotted fleece pj's and a satin smoking jacket! ha ha.

The "Vlad the Installer" thing prompts me to quote Bart Simpson: "Vampire is not a career choice." I guess Vlad found that out and had to get into furnaces instead!


Anonymous said...

Ooh, Madam and I would happily move into this place and live there forever and ever! What a gorgeous library...and I think I will check out that book. I am pretty sure Madam already loves reading and she sees me sneaking books all day long, but it never hurts to have backup! :-D

Esme Raji Codell said...

WOW! What a wonderful housewarming (or gingerbread-apartment-warming) gift this post was! The photos are so nice...after all the work that went into putting the place together, it was like getting to see it myself for the first time. I'm glad you had a good time, too! Thank you so much to you and Jim for gracing the space with your warmth, kindness, good humor, amazing talent and...uh, gotta say it...amazing pink hair.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! Are you SURE no one can live there? Because I could so easily live there...I now want a birdbath in my bathroom - every bathroom should have one.
And the edible veggie flower arrangement - too cute! What a perfect place for such an event, you lucky kidslit people!

Anonymous said...

The birdbath in the bathroom! (sigh) What a wonderful, wonderful place.

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