Mythical Aspects of My Fellowship at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek (IJB) in Munich, Germany

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Although I came to the International Youth Library to work on my research project “Oczami dziecka. Zagłada w polskiej literaturze dziecięcej i młodzieżowej po roku 1989” [Through the Eyes of a Child. The Holocaust in Polish Children’s and Young Adult Literature after 1989] and work with both children’s literature from all around the world and the secondary literature, it is hard not to spot Classical Antiquity even in the least expected places.

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Of course the most important things in the library are the books. There are a lot of secondary sources standing just near my desk in the reading room, so the first second I saw Swedish book “Pippi og Sokrates: Filosofiske vandringer i Astrid Lindgrens verden” by Jørgen Gaare and Øystein Sjaastad with famous Pippi Longstocking picking up Sokrates (just like horse in Lindgren’s story) on the cover. Right next to it another “philosophical” book – “Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts” (ed. by David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein).

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Of course “our” Catalogue is also here!

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What is worth noting the Internationale Jugendbibliothek is not only a library. One may visit permanent exhibitions in Michael Ende Museum, James Krüss Tower, and Erich Kästner Room. Besides temporal exhibitions are organised. In May/July three of them were open to visit.

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The first is dedicated to the insects in children’s books, among others “Bienen” (“Pszczoły”) by Piotr Socha (already presented on “Our Mythical Childhood Blog”) is presented.

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The second (recently closed) exhibition was dedicated to Scandinavian children’s books:

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One can see there “Biblia Pauperum Nova” by controversial Danish author Oscar K. illustrated by Dorte Karrebæk:

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The most recently opened exhibition is dedicated to the work of Rotraut Susanne Berner, bestselling illustrator and author of wimmel books, although the exhibition is mainly about the cats she is crazy about. There is even a huge cat house you can play with!

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Very interesting way of promoting the IJB founder Jella Lepman’s idea of connecting children’s from all parts of the world is the IJB calendar: each week it presents a poem from different country (both in the original as well as in German version) illustrated by the artist of the same nationality. I was lucky to “celebrate” during my stay the Polish week with a poem by Małgorzata Strzałkowska illustrated by Katarzyna Bogucka:

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The library itself is amazing, but the best thing is to meet different people: helpful and kind staff as well as other fellows from all around the world, including Japan, Brazil, Cameroon, and the USA. Work within international environment using many languages clearly shows that the field of children’s literature and its research connects different cultures, languages, and perspectives as well as provides a great deal of fun!

More on how to apply for the fellowship here: https://www.ijb.de/en/fellowship-programme.html

Krzysztof Rybak

Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw

(currently at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich)

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