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Collectible & Rare Children's Books ~ Related Links

The Cotsen Children's Library is an important historical collection of 23,000 illustrated children's books and related items on deposit at Princeton University. The site features some unusual online exhibits which are lots of fun. Don't miss the virtual exhibitions from 2001-2005 which include: Creepy Crawlies, Insects in Picture Books; Water Babies, Swimming in Picture Books; Magic Lantern; and Beatrix Potter, Fabulist. The virtual exhibits from 2006-2010 feature: Tigers in Picture Books; Kites: From Physics to Fancy; Leo Politi's Los Angeles; and Serious Fun: Pere Castor's Activity Books. is a special site for the many admirers of Ms. Wright's delightful photographic books.

"To learn to love books and reading is one of the very best things that can happen to anybody."
—Walter de la Mare in his introduction to Tom Tiddler's Ground

The Secret Lives of Toys and Their Friends was the title of an exhibit in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Albany. A bibliography is included. We have available The Toys of Nuremberg, a copy of which was included in this exhibit.

In 1997 UCLA held a marvelous, not-to-be-missed exhibit, Picturing Childhood, Illustrated Children's Books from University of California Collections, 1550–1990.

The University Libraries of the University of Washington have an excellent paper available online in pdf format entitled Images of Blackness in American Children’s Picture Books, 1899 – 1999: Selections from the UW Children’s Literature Collection. The site also hosts Looking Glass for the Mind: 350 Years of Books for Children.

The Afterlife of Alice and Her Adventures in Wonderland, an exhibit held in the University of Florida Smathers Library, included "other editions (of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), including the early draft Alice's Adventures Underground which includes Lewis Carroll's own illustrations, later editions and illustrated versions of the book, texts that reference Alice, and other materials from popular culture." Some images are available online and there is also a PowerPoint file which you can download.

If you loved this author's books as a child, you'll enjoy the website of the Thornton W. Burgess Society whose aim is "to inspire reverence for wildlife and concern for the natural environment."

There's nothing as cozy as a piece of candy and a book.
—Betty MacDonald in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic

Rutgers has compiled a marvelous Mother Goose Bibliography: Mother Goose: A Scholarly Exploration which also includes some images.

An interesting site for those who enjoy the writings of Elizabeth Coatsworth and Henry Beston, both of whom wrote for children and adults.

The Milner Library has a terrific Lois Lenski page with a list of many of her titles.
Later note: Apparently the Lenski pages are no longer available to the general public. It may be possible to create an account in order to view these pages. We haven't attempted this. Please contact the library if interested.

Roy E. Plotnick has a wonderful page (with relevant links) entitled In Search of Watty Piper: A Brief History of the "Little Engine" Story which provides a publishing history of the beloved story and background on the controversy surrounding the origins of the tale.

"Perhaps we are born knowing the tales for our grandmothers and all their ancestral kin continually run about in our blood repeating them endlessly, and the shock they give us when we first hear them is not of surprise but of recognition."
—P.L. Travers speaking of fairy tales in About the Sleeping Beauty

One of the features of The Dr. Seuss Collection in the Mandeville Special Collections Library of UC San Diego is The Advertising Artwork of Dr. Seuss. There is also
A Catalog of Political Cartoons by Dr. Seuss.

A collection of Children's Books of the Early Soviet Era was displayed at McGill University in 1998 and is here reproduced online. The Russian children's books of this era are characterized by the most amazing and wonderful graphics.

An exhibit of Frank L. Baum's American Fairy Tale The Wizard of Oz can be found at the website of the Library of Congress.

I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward.
— L. Frank Baum

The Elizabeth Nesbitt Room at the University of Pittsburgh houses several special collections on the history of children and their books dating from the 1600's to the present.

The American Library Association (ALA) features the home pages of the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal. Complete lists of medal winners and honor books (from 1938 and from 1922 respectively) can be found on the site.

"I, Florence Figg, am a bookman. I dream of a gentle world, peopled with good people and filled with simple and quiet things."
—Ellen Raskin, Figgs & Phantoms (Newbery Honor)

Children's Literature, Chiefly from the Nineteenth Century is the title of an exhibit that was held in the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina in 1996-97.

One can search for children's books in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

There's a wealth of information on Wikipedia about children's books and their authors. Begin at The Children's Literature Portal to explore the highways and byways of this vast project.

"'I've been at this job for a lifetime,' he said. 'Still, I don't know all about books.'"
—Mr O'Clery in The Bookshop on the Quay by Irish children's book author Patricia Lynch

The University of North Texas Libraries has a fine exhibit on Victorian Bookbinding.

Another excellent digital exhibit for those with an interest in decorative bindings is on the site of the University of Alabama: Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books.

An interesting online exhibit of gorgeous publishers' bindings from the rare books and special collections of the University of Rochester Libraries: Beauty for Commerce: Publishers' Bindings, 1830-1910.

How long have dustjackets been around, you've sometimes wondered? Ponder no longer - at least since 1832. NYPL has a fascinating collection of the jackets preserved by aesthetically minded librarians in an online exhibit: Dust Jackets from American and European Books, 1926-1947. Definitely worth a look. Click the link at the top of the page on the left which says, "See all Images." Among many other interesting digital collections on the site are: America's First Illustrator: Alexander Anderson and Publisher's Proofs and Related Work from L. Prang & Company. Prang published some wonderful children's books; the firm's chromolithography was outstanding.

For those of us who can't get enough of printed words and images, Wikipedia has a multi-linked treatment of the subject: The History of Printing. Quite a nice overview.

"I still remember the chill that ran through me when he handed me a copy of Absalom Jones and Richard Allen's A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia and said, "This is the actual copy of the Narrative Jones and Allen donated to the Library Company in 1794." Reading about our nation's history is one thing; actually holding it in your hands is something altogether different."
—From the Acknowledgments in An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, a Newbery Honor Book by Jim Murphy



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