They’ve Got Game: The Children’s Books of Toni & Slade Morrison

CAAHB4 Jun 18, 2003; New York, NY, USA; TONI and SLADE MORRISON at the Who's Got Game? Book signing at Barnes and Noble Union Square on June 18, 2003.

CAAHB4 Jun 18, 2003; New York, NY, USA; TONI and SLADE MORRISON at the Who’s Got Game? Book signing at Barnes and Noble Union Square on June 18, 2003.

This winter, it was our honor to curate “They’ve Got Game: The Children’s Books of Toni & Slade Morrison,” an exhibit that runs in the Cotsen Children’s Library gallery until June 4, 2023. It’s part of the larger, absolutely magnificent exhibit “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory,” which is currently in the Milberg Gallery of Princeton University’s Firestone Library.

In a nine book collaboration spanning well over a decade, Toni and Slade Morrison deftly crafted stories around themes such as individualism, independence of thought, family connections, freedom, imagination, and the empowerment of self

The Cotsen gallery exhibit primarily features the Morrisons’ Who’s Got Game? series, which reimagined Aesop’s fables without any concrete morals. Instead, the stories put that decisive power on the reader. Morrisons’ characters are not good or evil, smart or foolish, weak or strong. Rather, they are more flexible, and offer different perspectives, leaving it to the reader to ultimately ask themselves: who’s got game? The Ant or the Grasshopper? The Lion or the Mouse? Poppy or the Snake?

Visitors can enjoy viewing handwritten pages by Toni Morrison, the charming illustrations of artist Pascal Lemaître (interviewed here), and even some 2004 fan art from a New Jersey third grader! Please stop by, or take a look at the online companion to the exhibit. For more information about additional library and campus events related to Toni Morrison, please visit this page.

Please stay tuned for more special blog posts and children’s events related to this exhibit!

Studio Snapshots: Steve Light

In a very small studio in NYC, a magician creates vast worlds. Welcome to the studio of Steve Light, award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books, including Have You Seen My Dragon, SWAP!, Up Cat Down Cat, and blog favorite Zephyr Takes Flight (see the awesome project we did for it here!). Steve’s newest book is Road Trip: A Whiskers Hollow Adventure, but he’s hard at work on The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is set to be released by Candlewick Press. Steve is often joined by studio assistant Madie the Cat.


So, I live in Manhattan where space is limited. I live in a studio apartment with my wife and cat. My studio is in an alcove off the living room, my workshop with my tools is in a walk-in closet off the alcove. To get to my studio you walk “through” our bookcase! It’s like entering the world of books.

My studio has to be very well organized to be functional. As my friend Barbara McClintock said, “It is like a pilot’s cockpit, everything is within reach at any time!” It is small but very efficient. I have created 20 books in this space.

I have all my pens, inks, and materials in the assorted cabinets. My whole desk is a light table, this allows me to see my pencil drawings under my paper when inking the final illustrations. I also have an iPod to listen to music, not my phone so I’m not tempted to look at emails or other stuff. I usually wake up at 4am and make coffee and sit right down to work. Since my workspace is steps from my bed, I can keep that half awake relaxed mindset and set right to work. It is very peaceful.

In the closet off the studio, I have all my tools. I love to make things out of wood and that’s what this space is for. I have a scroll saw, drill press, sander and many hand tools. I make sculptures, models, toys, and puppets!

I love living in New York City and love creating in my little space. I spend a lot of time sketching in museums and coffee shops. The city is endlessly inspirational to me.


Images courtesy of Steve Light

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