Connecticut Children’s Book Fair 2015: This Weekend!

Lowly-reading_smSmiles, laughter, children’s books and their authors await you at the 24th Annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair happening this Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15 at the University of Connecticut.  The fun begins at 10:00am.  Check out this year’s exciting schedule of Authors and Illustrators featuring Ross MacDonald, Wendell Minor, Florence Minor, Cynthia Lord, P. J. Lynch, Jane Sutcliffe, Pamela Zagarenski, and Connecticut’s-own Barbara McClintock.  Parking, directions, and links to local attractions, including the Ballard Museum of Puppetry, are available on the Book Fair website.  Drop in to hear distinguished illustrators discuss their work, browse the latest releases, attend storytime and other events throughout the day including a visit by Clifford the Big Red Dog!

The Connecticut Children’s Book Fair is a program of the University of Connecticut Libraries and the UConn Co-op. Proceeds from sales at the event are used for the growth of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection in the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut Libraries.

The Story of Richard Scarry’s Busytown with Special Guest Lecturer Huck Scarry

ScarryBusiestpeopleeverP7Busytown, the bustling small town and home to such resident characters as Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Mr. Frumble, Police Sergeant Murphy, Mr. Fixit, and Hilda Hippo, was first depicted in the book Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy World.  The fictional town was a central feature in several Richard Scarry books and has been depicted through time in a variety of formats, including games, toys, activity books, and an animated series.

Richard Scarry, the popular and much-loved American author and illustrator of over 300 children’s books, is known for such classics as Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever released in 1963, Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy World (1965), Richard Scarry’s Storybook Dictionary (1966), and What Do People Do All Day (1968).  Selling millions of copies during his lifetime, many Scarry books, though regularly updated and re-issused, have never been out of print.  Several have have been translated into over 20 languages.

Join us tomorrow evening, Tuesday November 10, 6:00pm for a special guest lecture Huck Scarry 2The Story of Richard Scarry’s Busytown” with Scarry’s son, Richard “Huck” Scarry II. Also an artist and author of children’s books, Huck Scarry published a new Scarry picture book for the first time in the U.S. since the elder Scarry’s death in 1994.  With Richard Scarry’s Best Lowly Worm Book Ever! Huck Scarry began a season of re-releasing Scarry’s classics to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Richard Scarry’s best-known book, Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.  The guest lecture event will take place in the Class of 1947 Room, Homer Babbidge Library, University of Connecticut in Storrs.  The lecture is free and open to the public and is presented in conjunction with the 24th Annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair taking place at UConn on Saturday and Sunday, November 14 and 15, 2015.

Richard Scarry’s personal papers and archives, preserved and available in Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center, document the creation, production, and distribution of his books for children. The archives are part of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and contain materials and correspondence concerning Scarry’s early work, with Western Publishing and Little Golden Books, beginning in the 1950s. The bulk of the material in the archives concerns the works produced by Scarry during his later association with Random House.

Esphyr Slobodkina – Modernist (Children’s Book) Illustrator/Author

by JoAnn Conrad, Recipient of the 2015 Billie M. Levy Travel and Research Grant

Part of my ongoing research into children’s picturebooks of the mid-twentieth century has to do with the ways in which the work of illustrators has insinuated itself into the public memory even as the names of individual artists may be relatively obscure. This is the case with the rare female artist and, particularly, Esphyr Slobodkina, as her influence is inversely proportional to the obscurity of her name.  “Esphyr Slobodkina . . .helped pave the way for the acceptance of abstract art in the United States and translate[d] European modernism into an American idiom.”[1]


A simple and serendipitous anecdote demonstrates this: While researching her papers at UConn’s Archives and Special Collections this summer, I was living across the street from the UConn Bookstore. One day, I noticed a display in the window announcing “Caps for Sale” [Fig. 1], clearly alluding to one of Slobodkina’s most popular books of the same name [Fig. 2]. The power of the sale poster derives from and depends on the reference to the book, which is assumed to be automatic.

There is a fair amount about Slobodkina’s life and work available. The Finding Aid for the Slobodkina Papers at Archives and Special Collections provides a brief biography as does the website of the Esphyr Slobodkina Foundation.  The 2009 Rediscovering Slobodkina: A Pioneer of American Abstraction includes information on her life as well as her contributions to the art world, but the full biography has yet to be written.  Esphyr Slobodkina anticipated that it would be written, however, and drafted a comprehensive, detailed, 5-volume manuscript “Notes for a Biographer” which resides in her papers. The Slobodkina Papers contain much more than is in her books – things that would never be published but which give a researcher like me access to insights into the thoughts and motivations of the artist. One of the pleasures of this kind of archival research is not only this intimate and personal connection one makes across time, but also the unexpected revelations into the personality of the artist that informs her work. My intention here is to provide some of those “off the books” glimpses into the work and person – Esphyr Slobodkina.

Esphyr Slobodkina was born to a wealthy Russian-Jewish family in Russia before the Revolution.  Continue reading…



Archives At Your Fingertips: Teaching with Archives and Special Collections | Archives & Special Collections

littlemags01Introduce your class to primary sources from Archives and Special Collections, UConn’s only public archive that offers students opportunities to explore and experience original letters, diaries, photographs, maps, drawings, artists books, graphic novels, student newspapers, travel narratives, oral histories, and rare sound recordings to illuminate a given topic of study.  With over 40,000 linear feet of materials – located in the center of campus at the Dodd Research Center –  the Archives welcomes all visitors to its Reading Room, a quiet space to contemplate potentially transformative resources.  Continue reading

Emily Arnold McCully gets a new finding aid

A new finding aid is now available for the Emily Arnold McCully Papers.  The collection consists of sketches, dummies, research materials and artwork for eight of her books: The Taxing Case of the Cows,  the Divide,  Old Home Day,  Ballot Box Battle,  Ballerina Swan,  My Heart Glow,  Secret Seder, and  The Helpful Puppy.  Emily Arnold McCully, an American writer and illustrator, won the Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration in 1993, for Mirette on the High Wire which she also wrote.

Ballot Box Battle (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996)

Ballot Box Battle (New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).  All rights reserved.


She was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1939, and grew up in Garden City, New York. She attended Pembroke College, now a part of Brown University, and earned an M.A. in Art History from Columbia University. At Brown she acted in the inaugural evening of Production Workshop and other plays, co-wrote the annual musical, Brownbrokers, and earned a Phi Beta Kappa key.


In 1976, she published a short story in The Massachusetts Review. It was selected for the O’Henry Collection: Best Short Stories of the Year. Two novels followed:  A Craving in 1982, and  Life Drawing in 1986. In 2012, Ms. McCully published  Ballerina Swan with Holiday House Books for Young People, written by legendary prima ballerina Allegra Kent. It has received rave reviews from The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal and was praised in the “Talk of the Town” column in The New Yorker

Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux (New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010)

Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux (New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010).  All rights reserved.


As an actor, she performed in Equity productions of Elizabeth Diggs’ Saint Florence at Capital Rep in Albany and The Vineyard Theater in New York City.  In addition to the Caldecott Award, Ms. McCully has received a Christopher Award for Picnic, the Jane Addams Award, the Giverney Award and an honorary doctorate from Brown University.

Curator to retire

As of June 30, 2015, Terri J. Goldich will retire from the University of Connecticut after a career of over 38 years with the UConn Libraries.  Ms. Goldich has had the good fortune to serve as the curator for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection in Archives & Special Collections in a full-time capacity since February of 1998.  Care of the NCLC will be taken on by Kristin Eshelman, a highly skilled archivist currently on staff in the Archives.  Ms. Eshelman’s contact information is available on the website at

Book Launch for Dr. Katharine Capshaw

Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press).

Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press).



Dr. Capshaw’s latest book, Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks was published by University of Minnesota Press in 2014.  In it Dr. Capshaw “…draws on works ranging from documentary photography, coffee-table and art books, and popular historical narratives and photographic picture books for the very young.” (  Please join us on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 4:00pm at the UConn Co-op Bookstore, One Royce Circle, 101 Storrs Center, Storrs, CT 06268.  For more information call 860-486-8525.


Hilary Knight on HBO tonight

Kay Thompson's Eloise (New York : Simon and Schuster, 1955).  Illustrated by Hilary Knight.  Pg. 7.

Kay Thompson’s Eloise (New York : Simon and Schuster, 1955). Illustrated by Hilary Knight. Pg. 7.





At 9pm on March 23, 2015, HBO will present a documentary produced by Lena Dunham, titled It’s me, Hilary: the Man who Drew Eloise, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first Eloise book.  Lena Dunham, now 28, bears a tattoo of Eloise that is visible at times during her appearances on the HBO show Girls, so Hilary Knight sent her a signed book and a letter asking Ms. Dunham to share Indian food with him.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Read the full LA Times story.  The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection holds some of Mr. Knight’s archival papers.  Don’t miss the show tonight at 9pm.



Unpublished Seuss manuscripts rediscovered

Random House announced yesterday that it will publish What pet should I get? which features the brother and sister from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.  The manuscript and sketches were found in a box along with the original materials for at least two other books.  Random House will announce the publication dates for the other new releases later.

(The cover of a previously unknown Dr. Seuss book titled, What Pet Should I Get?)

Dr. Seuss’s widow, Audrey Geisel, set the box aside after her husband’s death in 1991, during a renovation of their home.  She and a longtime friend recently rediscovered the box, explaining in a statement to Random House:  “Ted always worked on multiple projects and started new things all the time — he was constantly drawing and coming up with ideas for new stories.”

ABC’s Good Morning America announced the story this morning as well as USA Today. 

What fantastic news for fans of Dr. Seuss.


Dr. Kate Capshaw launches new book

Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press).

Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press).

From Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Ph.D., Director, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute Associate Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies:


On February 12, 2015 (at 4 PM) the UConn Co-op (in Storrs Center) will be hosting a book launch for Kate Capshaw’s recently published book, Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks (University of Minnesota Press). What follows is a brief description of the book and a link:

Civil Rights Childhood explores the function of children’s photographic books and the image of the black child in social justice campaigns for school integration and the civil rights movement. Drawing on works ranging from documentary photography and popular historical narratives to coffee-table and art books, Katharine Capshaw shows how the photobook-and the aspirations of childhood itself-encourage cultural transformation.  (

Katharine Capshaw

Dr. Katharine Capshaw


This event is sponsored and hosted by the University Co-Op. For more information, please feel free to contact Cathy Schlund-Vials (<>).