25th Annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair THIS Weekend – With Exhibition on View

For 25 years, the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair has welcomed families, collectors, teachers, students and librarians to UConn to meet and to hear talented, award-winning authors and illustrators discuss their work.  This weekend on November 4 and 5, we are excited to once again foster the enjoyment of reading among Connecticut’s youth with two days of dynamic programming. The Book Fair takes place at the Rome Commons Ballroom on the UConn campus — visitor information can be found on the event website.

Archives and Special Collections celebrates the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair in this milestone year by featuring the collections of authors and illustrators found in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection (NCLC). The Book Fair is also an opportunity to highlight recent research conducted in the papers and archives of NCLC authors and illustrators.

The following is an excerpt of an exhibition essay by Nicolas Ochart, Student Exhibitions Intern in Archives and Special Collections, for an exhibition currently on view in the McDonald Reading Room in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. This semester, Nicolas is responsible for conceiving and developing small-scale exhibitions that highlight archival material found in the collections. He hopes to pursue professional curatorial work in an effort to promote the work and experiences of marginalized and underrepresented communities in the United States. In December, Nicolas will receive his B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut.

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection was developed in 1989 to collect and preserve the history of children’s literature and illustrations, and comprises the archives of over 120 notable authors and artists. Among completed editions of beloved children’s books, the collection also includes countless preliminary sketches, letters, dummies, manuscripts, notes, and correspondence with family, editors, and other writers and artists.

The collection’s extensive holdings have made the University of Connecticut a nexus for scholars and children’s book writers and illustrators across the nation interested in studying the literary and aesthetic qualities of the form. In an effort to support and encourage study of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, Archives and Special Collections have developed a number of awards for researchers, including the Billie M. Levy Travel and Research Grant and the James Marshall Fellowship. Grantees and Fellows have written on such varied topics as queer American Jewishness in the art and writings of Maurice Sendak, as well as influences of modernism and fashion design in the work of Esphyr Slobodkina. Aspiring and established authors and illustrators have also looked at papers by James Marshall, Natalie Babbitt, Tomie dePaola, and Eleanor Estes for guidance in their own practice.

The objects on display in Archives and Special Collections represent just some of the archival materials past Fellows and Grantees have found noteworthy in their research. These objects also dialogue with others in Archives and Special Collections, and together offer rich and surprising stories of classic tales.

The collection’s extensive and cross-historical nature provides a visual and narrative mapping of the perseverance of certain character types and situations. One of the most persistent topics of interest in children’s literature concerns problems that arise from class conflicts, and the tensions between members of the aristocracy, bourgeoisie, and working class communities. Where a character is from and the spaces they are permitted to navigate reveals much about their personality, goals, and interactions with other characters in their environment. These works show desire and punishment, as characters’ morality largely dictates whether they are granted social mobility or afflicted with poverty or other penalties.

Even if clear moral distinctions between classes are not drawn, the picturing of difference is almost always apparent. The objects displayed in Archives and Special Collections represent a sampling of the visualization of class and “otherness” in popular children’s fables and fairy tales, as well as the ways in which characters’ bodies, properties, and reputations are threatened by these factors.

We encourage exploration of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, or explore the blog for Archives and Special Collections, to learn more about scholarship conducted by visiting academics, writers, and artists.

– Nicolas Ochart



2015 Youth Media Awards Announced

Congratulations to all of the American Library Association award winners!  The 2015 Youth Media Awards were announced on Monday, Feb. 2 during ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.  Several of our friends won major awards.  A donor to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, Weston Woods Studio, Inc., received the Andrew Carnegie Medal honoring the most outstanding video productions for children released in the previous year.  The winners are Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard, producers of Me…Jane, the adaption of Patrick McDonnell’s Caldecott Honor book for 2012 about Jane Goodall.

University of Connecticut’s Professor Emerita Marilyn Nelson received the Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Book Award for How I Discovered Poetry, illustrated by Hadley Hooper and published by Dial Books.  Donald Crews, who participated in the CT Children’s Book Fair in 1997, is the winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which honors an author or illustrator who had made “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” (ALA.org).

Natalie Lloyd’s first novel, A Snicker of Magic, was a hit at the 2014 CT Children’s Book Fair as was Natalie herself.  The audiobook produced by Scholastic Audiobooks was awarded the Odyssey Award, for being one of the best audiobooks produced in English in the U.S.  Another Book Fair participant from 2003, Ann M. Martin, was awarded the Schneider Family Book Award for Rain Reign.  The Schneider Family honors books embodying “an artistic expression of the disability experience.” (ALA.org).

Mo Willems, another member of the NCLC and Book Fair family, won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award for his Waiting is not Easy! published by Hyperion Books for Children.  Len Vlahos presented at the Book Fair in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 William C. Morris Award, given to a first-time author writing for teens.  NCLC donor and Book Fair participant Emily Arnold McCully was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults for her work Ida M. Tarbell: the Woman who Challenged Big Business-and Won!

For a complete listing of the 2015 Youth Media Awards, visit the American Library Association’s site.  Congratulations, everyone!


Farewell to Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog, dead at 86

Article by The Martha’s Vineyard Times Dec 16, 2014

Norman Bridwell poses with his beloved creation, Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Norman Ray Bridwell of Edgartown, who brought delight to millions of readers young and old as the author of Clifford the Big Red Dog series of books, died on Friday, December 12, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was 86.

Norman Bridwell in his Edgartown studio. File photo by Ralph Stewart.

Norman Bridwell was born in Kokomo, Indiana, in 1928, according to a biography by Scholastic Books. He studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis and Cooper Union Art School in New York before working as a commercial artist for 12 years.

In 1962 Mr. Bridwell found himself having to support a wife and infant daughter on extra money he picked up doing freelance artwork. He considered supplementing his income by illustrating picture books. An editor at Harper & Row advised him that he might find success by writing a story about one of his pictures. Because of his young daughter, Bridwell chose to write a story about an illustration he had made of a little girl and a big red bloodhound. He decided to make the dog very big and more of a general, all-around dog instead of a bloodhound. Mr. Bridwell wanted to name the dog Tiny, but his wife thought the name too boring. She suggested the name Clifford, after an imaginary play friend from her own childhood. With that settled, Norman Bridwell decided to name the little girl in his book after his own daughter, Emily Elizabeth, and within a few days he completed his story. Three weeks after submitting his story and illustrations to Scholastic Books, the publishers called with an offer to publish his work.

Forty titles and 60 million copies later, Clifford the Big Red Dog is a well-known and beloved character to the preschool set.

Norman Bridwell gave generously of his time and was an annual contributor to the Possible Dreams auction, the major fundraiser for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the Island’s social services umbrella agency.

He was the husband of Norma (Howard) Bridwell and father of Tim Bridwell and Emily Bridwell Merz. A memorial service will be held in the summer of 2015 and a complete obituary will follow in a future edition of The Times.

Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.

ALA announces 2014 youth media awards

See the full story at http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/01/american-library-association-announces-2014-youth-media-award-winners.  Congratulations to all, especially NCLC donor and CT Children’s Book Fair friend Mo Willems, for his Geisel Honor Book award for A Big Guy Took My Ball, published by Hyperion Books for Children.  Other past participants in the CT Children’s Book Fair to win major awards this year are Holly Black, for Doll Bones, published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, a Newbery Honor Book; Aaron Becker for Journey, published by Candlewick Press, a Caldecott Honor Book; Rita Williams-Garcia for P.S. Be Eleven, published by Amistad, the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Authors; Bryan Collier for Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me, published by Little, Brown and Company, the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustrators; and David Levithan for Two Boys Kissing, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a Stonewall Book Honor Award.   Fantastic!

Aaron Becker’s in the top 10!

Aaron Becker’s Journey: a wordless picture book was named one of The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the year. We are honored that he will join us on Saturday the 9th for a presentation at 3:30pm at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair. Congratulations Aaron!


Marc Simont

Many Moons by James Thurber (Harcourt, 1990)

Many Moons by James Thurber (Harcourt, 1990)

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection mourns the loss of our good friend, Marc Simont. Mr. Simont placed a significant amount of his work here and joined us at the CT Children’s Book Fair four times between 1993 and 2002. He was talented, charming and witty, and will be sincerely missed.

Stray Dog retold and illustrated by Marc Simont (HarperCollins, 2001)

Stray Dog retold and illustrated by Marc Simont (HarperCollins, 2001)

The finding aid at Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center describes Mr. Simont:

Marc Simont was born November 23, 1915, in Paris, France to Joseph and Dolores Simont from the Catalonian region of northeastern Spain. Joseph was an illustrator and artist/reporter for L’Illustration in Paris. Because his parents moved frequently Marc attended schools in Paris, Barcelona, and New York and became a U.S. citizen in 1926. Though he later attended art schools he considered his father his greatest teacher. He studied art in Paris at Académie Julian, Académie Ranson, and Andre Lhoté School. In the U.S. he attended the New York National Academy of Design and Jerry Farnsworth’s summer school in Provincetown, Mass. He worked as assistant to mural painters Francis S. Bradford (1939 N. Y. World’s Fair) and Ezra Winter (Library of Congress).

The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss (HarperCollins, 1949)

The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss (HarperCollins, 1949)

Simont’s first illustration job was for a pulp magazine that folded before he could collect his $25. Eventually he became an author and illustrator of children’s books, greatly influenced by Ursula Nordstrom, editor of Harper Bros. He illustrated books by Ruth Krauss, James Thurber, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, Karla Kuskin among others. His illustrations for Janice May Udry’s A Tree is Nice won the Caldecott Medal in 1957, and he received Caldecott Honors for his pictures in Ruth Krauss’s The Happy Day and his own The Stray Dog. Simont has also been recognized by the Child Study Association, Society of Illustrators, N.Y. Academy of Sciences, N.J. Institute of Technology, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor.  In 2008 his political cartoons were awarded the Hunter College James Aronson Award for “Cartooning With A Conscience.”

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber (Simon and Schuster, 1950)

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber (Simon and Schuster, 1950)

This curator’s favorite book is The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, by Karla Kuskin, published in 1982 by Harper and Row.  Kuskin’s story, in which “one hundred and five people are getting dressed to go to work”  is accompanied by Simont’s illustrations showing the musicians bathing, dressing, traveling to the concert hall, and “turning the black notes on white pages into a symphony.”Marc Simont "Philharmonic Gets Dressed"

A wonderful story about Simont is retold in his obituary which appeared in the New York Times on July 16, 2013.  Simont and Robert McCloskey lived together in Greenwich Village when McCloskey was working on his classic Make Way for Ducklings.  In order to study ducklings more thoroughly for his drawings and with Simont’s assent, he brought home a family of ducklings which lived in the bathtub for several months.

Rest in peace, Mr. Simont.

–Terri J. Goldich

ALA Awards go to several CT Children’s Book Fair folks and one NCLC donor!

Congratulations to several of our CT Children’s Book Fair folks for their prestigious awards at ALA this morning!
E. B. Lewis, Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Each Kindness and Bryan Collier, Coretta Scott King Illustrator for I, Too, am America;
Sonia Manzano, Pura Belpre Honor Book for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano;
Mo Willems, NCLC donor, Geisel Honor for Let’s Go for a Drive ;
and Leslea Newman, Stonewall Honor Book for October Mourning.

Katie Davis exhibit

[slideshow_deploy id=’730′]The Katie Davis exhibit in the Dodd Research Center Gallery will be coming down on February 22, 2013, in the early morning.  So if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll want to come in soon.  It’s a wonderful exhibit documenting Katie’s creative process.  And, trust me, is she ever creative.

Tomie dePaola featured in latest Kearsarge magazine

[slideshow_deploy id=’705′]One of our favorite NCLC donors, Tomie dePaola, is the cover guy for the winter 2012/2013 Kearsarge magazine, with a great article inside written by John Walters accompanied by lovely photography by Tom McNeill.  Now 78 years old, Tomie has published something like 250 books.  His newest book, The birds of Bethlehem, is a retelling of the Nativity story from a bird’s perspective.  John Walters interviewed Tomie about his life and love of reading and art, his teaching career, and his outlook on the many awards he has received.  His favorite, Walters reports, is that his hometown of Meriden, Connecticut, named its children’s library after him.

The Angel for Tomie’s 2012 Christmas card is a re-imagining” of one of his designs for a hand-screened greeting card business in Vermont in the late 1950’s.  Tomie has changed the background, added color and lettering, and reports, “It’s an interesting thing to take an image that is fifty-plus years old and re-visiting it.”

Tomie’s house is full of ornaments he has designed himself, in addition to a large collection of folk art from around the world.  And, Walters reports, “plenty of poinsettias.”

CT Children’s Book Fair a smashing success

And a great time was had by all at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair this past weekend!  Many thanks to our fantastic authors Harry Bliss, Bryan Collier, Katie Davis, Bruce Degen, Cathryn Falwell, Rita Williams-Garcia, Susan Hood, Tommy Greenwald, Leo Landry, Patricia MacLachlan, Barbara McClintock, Leslea Newman, Matthew Reinhart, Sergio Ruzzier, Robert Sabuda, Jerry Spinelli and Paul O. Zelinsky.  Our attendees, little and big, raved about the presentations and how excited they were to get their books signed.  The “This is Teen” panel sponsored by Scholastic featured Judy Blundell, Kim Harrington, Kirsty McKay, and Sonia Manzano.  Thanks for the great advice for our young writers!

CT Children’s Book Fair planning underway

The planning committee for the CT Children’s Book Fair is already busy lining up presenters and programs for the 21st Fair to be held on the Storrs campus on November 10-11, 2012.  So far we’ve lined up Patricia MacLachlan, author of Sarah Plain and Tall and many other great books; Robert Sabuda, the paper engineer par excellence and creator of marvelous pop-up books; Barbara McClintock, author and illustrator of the award-winning Adele and Simon books; and Katie Davis, author and illustrator of Little Chicken’s Big Day, which won the 2011 Trailee Award.  The exhibit in the Dodd Center’s Gallery From October 2012 to February 2013 will showcase Katie’s archives which are housed in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection.  We’re considering presenting a panel on bullying in addition to the panel on literature for teens, which has been popular for the last two years.  Breakfast with Clifford will of course be a highlight both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  For more information get automatic updates from the Fair’s Facebook page. 

–Terri J. Goldich, Curator

Susan Raab interviewed for Cynsations


Susan Raab, CEO of Raab Associates and sponsor of the Raab Associates Prize for Illustration was interviewed by Laurie Cutter for Cynsations. There’s a wonderful reference to the Raab Prize about half-way down this interesting interview about children’s literature, marketing, favorite books, and of course, the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair dinner last year when everyone drew on the dishes (thanks, Mo).