From Folklore to Fantasy

Recently, the Cotsen Children’s Library was delighted to co-host a live Zoom webinar with talented authors Sanyantani DasGupta (the Kiranmala series, Scholastic) and Roshani Chokshi (the Aru Shah series, Rick Riordan Presents). My co-host was Vineet Chander from Princeton University’s Office of Religious Life, Hindu Life Program. Additional sponsors included the Princeton Public Library, Labyrinth Books, and jaZams.

The discussion concluded with a lively Q&A from our enthusiastic young attendees, including the answer to the burning question: Skittles or M&Ms???

If you would like to check out additional author, illustrator, and artist interviews, visit our BiblioFiles archive. And many thanks to everyone who particioated in this amazing event!

Images courtesy of the authors

Bugging Out

bugging out_4I don’t know about ya’ll, but the Brood X cicada noises sound like someone is trying to remateralize on my street via a Star Trek transporter. Every day. Alllll day. Very LOUDLY. Katie, feeling similarly inspired (or perhaps crazed), put together today’s blog post featuring cicada connections and some of our awesome bug story times and projects!. Take it away, Katie!

Calling all entomologists! The Brood X cicadas (magicicada septendecim), the largest of the periodical cicadas that are endemic to the eastern United States, have awakened from their 17-year slumber. The swarm will spend the next month in the foliage, singing and mating before they bury themselves back in the ground, not to be seen again until 2038. It truly is a spectacle that is enjoyed by many (but feared by some!). Cicadas may be scary looking, but they are absolutely harmless to humans.

There is a fun musical connection to Princeton University and the 1970 Brood X cicadas, which were the inspiration for the tune “Day of the Locusts” by Bob Dylan. Dylan wrote the song to describe his experience receiving an honorary degree from Princeton. He was on campus for commencement and the cicadas were so loud, he could not hear his name being announced during the ceremony. April Armstrong, Deputy AUL for Special Collections, wrote more about Dylan and his degree on the excellent Mudd Manuscript Library blog.


Bob Dylan (center) at Princeton University, June 9, 1970. Historical Photograph Collection (AC112), Box AD31, Folder 23.

Scientist and naturalist Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) is often regarded as one of the first people to document the 17-year cycle of the Brood X cicadas. He wrote and published a scientific almanac, where he specifically said about the cicadas: “Their periodical return is 17 years, but they, like the Comets, make but a short stay with us…” Learn more about Banneker, along with four other famous scientists, by visiting our virtual escape room, The Discovery Museum.

Scientist Museum cropped

And! for more buggy connections, try these fun projects…starting with the sweetest story about teamwork you’ll ever read with Horsefly and Honeybee

you complete me

An easy-to-make butterfly feeder from our Secret Garden event (and speaking of butterflies, you might also like this STEAM butterfly project/ magic trick).


A simple to assemble centipede puppet AND shoe store activity? Oh yeah!

you can never have too many shoesBudding young entomologists create a bug and tell our story time film crew about it here

news crew

Create a simple beetle and carrier with every day household items

bug jarAnnnnd a magnetic fake cockroach maze. Yes, you read that right…

cockroach pizza box

Finally, award-winning author Shaun Tan wrote and illustrated a beautiful and touching picture book titled Cicada. We talked to Shaun about Cicada (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019) and his other amazing work during our interview for The BiblioFiles.

The BiblioFiles Presents: Victoria Jamieson

Just posted! An interview with multiple award-winning, and New York Times bestselling, graphic novelist Victoria Jamieson.

Beginning with her illustrated book SUPER COW in the third grade, Jamieson aspired to work as an animator. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a focus in illustration, her career path involved art and design work. But her life path involved being a roller derby player for the Rose City Rollers in Portland, Oregon. Jamieson merged these work and life experiences to create her 2015 graphic novel, Roller Girl. It went on to be a New York Times best seller, a Newbery Honor book, and an inspiration to thousands of novice skaters wanting to sport a Jammer star.

Roller Girl was followed by All’s Faire in Middle School, two shorter graphic novels in her Pets on the Loose series, and the picture books Olympig!, Pest in Show, and Bea Rocks the Flock.

Her most recent release is When Stars Are Scattered, which was done in collaboration with Omar Mohamed, the founder of Refugee Strong, and non-profit that empowers refugee students. Illustrated by Jamieson, the graphic novel is the true story of Mohamed’s childhood in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. It was a National Book Award finalist in 2020.

The magic of graphic novels is how completely the reader enters the world of the characters. Jamieson is especially talented at the emotional journeys her characters take. She is fearless in exploring the difficulty of going to a new school, getting in a fight with your friends, being bullied, a family argument, or in the case of her recent collaboration, the pain of uncertainty as refugees wait for change. These are difficult topics, but Jamison weaves hope into everything she writes and draws, inspiring her readers to face these difficulties and become stronger in the process.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview

Image courtesy of Victoria Jamieson