ZYX, the fourth in the inaugural exhibition and program series of the Bienes Center for the Literary Arts, brings to the public's attention an area of book collecting that is seldom seen and infrequently appreciated: alphabet books.
The sixty-six titles in the exhibition illustrate a small yet representative portion of the Jean Trebbi ABC book collection. It begins by briefly exploring the history of the alphabet, moves on to children's ABC books, shifts to alphabet books for adults, and concludes with pop-up and movable titles.
Alphabet books lend themselves to unusual formats and many of the most innovative and creative pop-up and movable volumes from the collection have been included. And, despite the fact that the public generally associates alphabet/ABC books with children, there are also many adult titles frequently written as urbane, sophisticated treatises on etiquette and moral teachings.
is an exhibition for all ages. Children will be delighted with the myriad ways adults have devised for them to learn their ABCs; and adults will be rewarded by viewing books that recall both memories of childhood innocence and, through humor and sophistication, others that have kept them on the path of the straight and narrow in adulthood.
I am deeply indebted to Jean Trebbi for her wise counsel and guidance in organizing this exhibition. She graciously opened her home and library to me during the early stages of selecting the exhibition and gently guided me to significant titles that otherwise might have been overlooked or ignored. She is a collector in the true sense of the word in that she is dedicated, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, and is constantly on the hunt for titles that will fill gaps and add depth to her ever-expanding collection. I am also fortunate to have had the advice and help of Margaret Bing, cataloger/curator of the Bienes Center. Finally, I would like to extend a special thanks to the Broward Public Library Foundation for its continued support of this program and exhibition series.
James A. Findlay
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