As a dork-wad of a child who wore overalls, T-shirts and cowboy boots to school, it should come as little surprise that my best friends all lived at the Fort Smith Public Library.
The children’s section of the library was in the basement of the building, and I went down there long after I could fit by butt into the tiny chairs and my knees below the munchkin tables they had there for story time.
The reason I haunted the children’s library was for books by David Macaulay.
Three of his books – “City,” “Cathedral” and “Castle” – were my constant companions at home and at school. I have no doubt that I checked out those books at the circulation desk more than any other dork in the public library system.
If you aren’t familiar with Macaulay’s books, they are the gateway drug to a full-time obsession with building things, using tools and designing structures. All three books have storylines that trace the history of a fictional city, cathedral and castle – from its planning to its destruction or abandonment.
The characters are both the people who plan and build these places, and the structures themselves. But the real stars of the books are Macaulay’s illustrations. I would stare at and sometimes try to copy some of my favorite parts of the books, especially in “Castle.” I remember even building some of the structures with my friend Chip Paris using Legos, wooden blocks and our siblings’ board books.
Macaulay’s books inspired me to build things. My dad’s carpentry books showed me how. And the members of my extended family kept me from cutting my fingers off in the process.
Books for children have been heavy on my mind for the last few months because we at Lost Art Press have been working on getting a children’s book published. As I’m typing this, we’re uploading the book’s electronic files to our printer. Next week, I’ll have the full details on this particular title, and we will begin to take pre-orders for this magnificent book from a French author.
So next time you are at the library, be sure to check out Macaulay’s books there – or perhaps you could even buy a set for some young builder in your life. And stay tuned to the blog for news on our children’s book, which will be released at the end of September.
— Christopher Schwarz