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.

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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).

champagne-glass-butterfly-feeder_cropped

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.

Studio Snapshots: Peter Brown

Today we’re visiting Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator, Peter Brown! Peter has been featured on our blog multiple times (see The Curious Garden, Creepy Carrots, and Creepy Underwear). His other books include The Wild Robot, My Teacher is a Monster!, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, and Children Make Terrible Pets.

His newest book, the sweet and funny Fred Gets Dressed (Little, Brown, 2021) was released this month, and you can check out more of his works, collaborations, and free coloring pages (woot!) on his website.


Photo 1: Each morning, my wife and I leave our house in Philadelphia and start walking south through the city, with our dog. We end up at a big, old building, that was once a technical high school, but is now an office building filled with artist studios and small businesses and non-profits. We enter the building, go up two flights of stairs, and then walk past the old high school lockers to the end of the hall. When we open the door to our studio, this is what we see. This room used to be a science classroom, and it still has quite a few of the original details.

Photo 2: My wife, Susan Fang, is also an artist, and to make the most of our shared space, we hired a carpenter to build us a large worktable, along with a simple white wall to separate our desk areas. I do most of my drawing at the big table, and then I go over to my computer to do my digital work.

Photo 3: We spend a lot of time in our studio, so we had to make it comfortable for everyone, especially our dog.

Photo 4: To publicize my new picture book, Fred Gets Dressed, the publisher arranged my very first virtual book tour. I sat in this spot and stared at my laptop and spoke to readers all across the country. I discussed the book and read from it and gave drawing demonstrations. It was great that I could speak with so many people, in so many different places, all from my studio. But I’m really looking forward to doing in-person book events again.


Images courtesy of Peter Brown