Anne Carroll Peterson Darger's mother, Martha, was only 3 in 1926 when library pioneer Anne Carroll Moore noticed her sitting in a sandbox in Logan playing with her toys.
They struck up a conversation that led to a fast friendship — one that lasted throughout their lives. Martha Peterson even named her daughter after Moore.
Moore sent books, notes and small gifts to Anne Carroll Peterson Darger, invited her to visit in New York and became a kind of fairy godmother in Darger's life.
When she grew older, she and her siblings all had to get Moore's blessing on who they dated and who they married.
Today, Anne Carroll Peterson Darger is in the spotlight as a new picture book by Jan Pinborough, a local author and managing editor of The Friend magazine for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that tells the story of Anne Carroll Moore and her remarkable journey.
"Miss Moore Thought Otherwise" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99) describes how Moore bucked the trend of the day and not only insisted that children needed books and libraries but encouraged authors to write more material specifically for children.
In the New York Public Library's Anne Carroll Moore Collection is a note from Potter, a poem written about her and typed out by Carl Sandburg, and a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt, Darger recalled.
Moore made certain other libraries in America followed the example she set at the New York Library and created warm, cozy children's sections in their libraries.
She traveled all over the United States and Europe to talk and teach.
For three summers, Moore went to Logan at the invitation of E.G. Peterson, then the president of the Agricultural College of Utah — what is now Utah State University. It was on one of those trips that she met E.G’s children — Martha and Chase. (Chase Peterson would grow up to become president of the University of Utah.)
Moore invited her literary friends to donate books to create the USU children's library — among them author Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to children as Dr. Seuss, according to USU's library website.
The collection, opened in 1937, was named in Moore's honor.
After Pinborough's friend Shauna Cook Clinger was asked to paint a portrait of Moore for the USU Anne Carroll Moore Children's Library, Pinborough became interested in the story. She researched Moore's life and found she agreed with the artist that the world needed to know Moore's story.
"I thought that children deserved to know something about those whose vision and determination gave them the privileges of libraries and books. Along the way, I hoped to encourage 'otherwise-thinking' children to value and pursue their own individualistic ideas and thus to make their own unique contributions to the world," Pinborough said.
"Today we consider a library filled with excellent books for children to be almost a basic right of childhood. So it’s shocking to think of a time when children under 14 were forbidden to enter libraries. Or when librarians kept children’s books behind glass, and when most saw their roles as protecting books from children, rather than making books available to children," Pinborough said. "Yet such was the state of library service around the turn of the century until Anne Carroll Moore and other trailblazing women librarians refused to accept the status quo."
Pinborough tells of Moore's effort and of Nicholas Knickerbocker, a Dutch-made jointed, wooden puppet that helped her tell her stories to children and parents on her trips.
People began sending gifts and books to Nicholas, some simple, some expensive items like a Faberge egg and a miniature treasure box with a tiny key.
Some of those treasures are highlighted in the book. Some will be on display at the book signings.
Darger was recently in Salt Lake City for a private launch and bring with her first-edition books and autographed books Moore gave her family over the years.
"I grew up thinking she was wonderful. I visited her several times in New York, going on ferry rides, seeing the Christmas displays at Bloomingdales," Darger said by phone from her home in Boise. "There is even a picture in her biography of her reading to me.
"I'm a lover of libraries," Darger said. "I'm a collecter of children's literature and drove down to Salt Lake City with my treasures to show her (Pinborough)."
Darger said the Moore legacy will live on in the family as Darger has a niece who just graduated from Harvard who is also named after Moore.
The picture book will also preserve Moore's inspiring story, she said.
If you go ...
What: "Miss Moore Thought Otherwise" book launch and Jan Pinborough book signing
When: Saturday, March 23, 11 a.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
When: Saturday, April 13, 11 a.m.
Where: Barnes and Noble, McIntyre Center, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.
Email: [email protected]