Marvellous and Mischievous: Literatures Young Rebels (8 November 2019 1 March 2020) is a free British Library
exhibition spotlighting famous rebels in childrens literature. Featuring such perennial favourites as Tracy Beaker, Pippi Longstocking, Jane Eyre and Matilda, as well as new characters including Omar from Planet Omar, Billy from Billy and the Beast and Dirty Bertie, this exhibition shines a light on the Librarys vast collection of childrens literature and explore an array of vibrant characters who break the rules and defy conventions.
Books and manuscripts from the Librarys collections, in addition to original artwork, tell the history of rebels in childrens literature, from the 17th century to items published as recently as this year. In addition, there are also loan items from Axel Scheffler, Beano Studios and DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., David Roberts, Lauren Child, Marie-Alice Harel, Sir Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, The Folio Society, Seven Stories and Zanib Mian to help illustrate the history of childrens books and their ongoing relevance today.
The exhibition highlights how rebels in childrens literature have been presented in many different ways: characters who stand up for what they believe in, break away from convention, have a cause they are striving for, are extremely resilient, survive difficult situations, or are just slightly mischievous.
Exploring characters adventures as well as adversities at home, at school and on journeys, the exhibition also includes interactive elements such as the opportunity to write your own story, or dress up as a rebel. Exhibition cases have been lowered especially for this exhibition so young visitors are able to engage with the literature and artwork on display.
Amongst the recognisable characters on display, highlight items also include:
The oldest item in the exhibition, a Latin textbook containing doodles from rebellious schoolboys, titled Sententiæ pueriles,1680
A first edition of Pippi Longstocking published in Sweden, 1945, a character who protects the vulnerable and stands up to adults
The first UK edition of Anne of Green Gables, 1908, an imaginative, impulsive character who changes those around her with the force of her personality
The first version of Cruikshanks colour illustrations of Oliver Twist, a young boy who challenges his position by asking for more
The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Raúf, winner of best story at the Blue Peter Book Awards (2019) and the Waterstones Childrens Book Prize 2019 detailing the power of friendship and shedding light on the refugee crisis
Jessica Loves Julian is a Mermaid (2018), an exploration of self-identity
Original artworks by much-loved illustrators including Axel Scheffler (Zog), Sir Quentin Blake (Matilda), Nick Sharratt (Tracy Beaker), Judith Kerr (When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), which also demonstrate the crucial relationship between authors and illustrators in the creation of childrens literature.
Lucy Evans, lead curator of Marvellous and Mischievous: Literatures Young Rebels, said: Marvellous and Mischievous is a fun, interactive exhibition all about exploring what makes a young rebel in childrens stories. Childrens literature over the last 300 years has shown that rebels come in all shapes and sizes from the wilful, bold Matilda, the ambitious Princess Pearl to the resilient Ahmet from The Boy at the Back of the Class. Many of the books displayed in the exhibition share powerful messages highlighting contemporary themes prevalent amongst the younger generation and illustrate how literature can inspire and motivate society today.