The Osborne Collection: Lest We Forget

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Last week, I was able to go to the opening of the Lest We Forget exhibition at the Lillian H. Smith Library on College Street, in Toronto. The Osborne is a special collection of children’s literature within the Toronto Public Library, and its collection is available to student groups, from the elementary school level to university programs. On the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of World War I, this exhibition brings together a stunning variety of children’s literature relating to war, spanning The Napoleonic Wars in 1805 to Afghanistan in 2012. The material not only presents the stories of children’s experience in wars and conflicts, but also illustrates the differing ways that wars and conflicts have been presented to children over time. The exhibition begins and ends with the tragic direct role of children in war, as drummers, buglers and young sailors in the Napoleonic Wars to the child soldiers in modern conflicts. Yet the theme throughout all the works is the ultimate yearning for peace.

The Chawkers Foundation helped with the costs for the beautiful catalogue, written by Elizabeth Derbecker, and many foundations helped with the other costs of the show. Publicity was very successfully planned and school groups are already booking tours and workshops. See http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/osborne/ for more information.