Cotsen Pumpkin Patch

Denslow’s ABC Book. Denslow, W. W. New York : G.W. Dillingham Co., 1903. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time to head to the pumpkin patch for your favorite festive gourd! Katie and I thought it would be fun to venture into the Cotsen Children’s Library’s special collections vaults and pull a few pumpkin treasures. Enjoy some historic pumpkins from 1900-1990!

Halloween ABC, poems by Eve Merriam ; illustrations by Lane Smith. New York : Macmillan, c1987. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

See My Lovely Poison Ivy : and Other Verses About Witches, Ghosts, and Things. By Lilian Moore, pictures by Diane Dawson.New York : Atheneum, c1975. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

The Sun-Bonnet Babies. by Bertha L. Corbett. Minneapolis, Minnesota (no publisher given). c1900. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Sylvia Plachy.

One quick note about the pumpkin patch photographed above. It’s from a book titled Halloween (Atheneum, 1993). Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner, it features amazing photographers like Sylvia Plachy, William Wegman, Sally Mann, and Phyllis Galembo. All the royalties and profits were donated to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. There is a touching introduction to the work of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation by Francesca DeLaurentis, age 10. The book is an incredible collaboration on so many levels.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by William Wegman.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Sally Mann.

Halloween. Written and with photographs selected by Katherine Leiner. New York : Atheneum, c1993. Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library. Photograph by Phyllis Galembo.

Time Travel 101

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New Jersey Colonial paper money side 1, 1759

Friends, teachers, history buffs…lend me your ears! Today, I wanted to share something a little different from our creative story times,community  events, and interviews. It’s related to another fantastic area of my job, Namely, working with special collections.

The Time Travel 101 program is a partnership between between our library and Princeton University’s Program in Teacher Preparation. It’s focused exclusively on the teaching of history using primary sources. The program consists of five different suitcases that contain primary sources teachers can borrow and use in their classrooms. Topics include Medieval manuscripts, New Jersey history, and WWII.

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Child’s gas mask and carrying bag, circa 1940

So actual 15th-century illuminated manuscript pages go directly to local classrooms for students to hold, examine, and learn from? YES! And at no cost as well! If you’d like to learn a little more about the program, please see this excellent article by Stephanie Ramírez, Princeton University Library Communications Specialist and Staff Writer.

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Book of Hours page, circa 1425-1450

And while the suitcases can only travel to certain local school districts, blog readers will be delighted to know that digital versions – complete with printable collections materials and curriculum for your classrooms – can be found right here on our library’s website.

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Various trade cards, late 19th century

Since Time Travel 101 launched a few years ago, we’ve been hearing great things from schools. My favorite is this e-mail, which was sent to us by a local teacher:

I wanted to give you some feedback on the Time Travel 101 suitcase. We LOVED it!!!! I was able to share it with approximately 10 teachers in grades 4-5-6. A teacher thought the suitcase lesson was too advanced for her students, but then the next day a student brought a copy of a summons for his 9th great-grandmother, accused of witchcraft! He said that he had told his parents about the suitcase, and they showed him this family artifact. He brought it to school to show the teacher and the class. I just thought this was a wonderful connection that this student made because of the suitcase lesson!


If you’re interested in some more of our special collections blog posts, you’ll find original Beatrix Potter stuffed animals here, the art of minim here, rebus puzzle cards here, a weird books post here, constellation cards here, some cool book curses here, an article about a different classroom special collections program here, and our awesome Gutenberg print history event here.

You can also jump over to Cotsen’s curatorial blog, which always has something interesting going on!

Most Uncommon

most uncommon

Coins, buttons, and yo-yos? There IS a connection between these three things. Granted, it’s a very uncommon connection…

We read The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence, written by Jennifer Bell, and illustrated by Karl James Mountford (Crown Books, 2017). When Ivy and Seb Sparrow’s grandmother breaks her wrist, it sets off a very unexpected chain of discoveries. The siblings quickly learn that a subterranean world exists underneath their feet. It teems with common objects that do uncommon things (flying vacuum cleaners, healing buttons, lemon squeezers the shed light, for example). Ivy and Seb also learn that they are part of a family with a dark, secret past…a past that is coming back to haunt them and threaten the lives of all the citizens of Lundinor.

This book was perfect for To Be Continued, our chapter book story time for kids ages 6-9. Time was tight towards the end of the book and our summer break, so I devised these quick activities for the hands-on portion of the program.

In the book, Ivy comes to possess a coin – a slightly bent one-pence piece made of silver that warms in her hand. The coin is very significant, as are other objects in the story. Happily, I had a large bag of old coins that were donated to the library by my lovely neighbor, Leonore. I spread them out on tables, and kids got to examine them and take home a pile for their personal collections. As you can see, they were VERY intent on this task!

kids examine coinsNext came a mysterious package tied with an old brass button (buttons have healing powers in Lundinor):

mysterious wrapped packageInside the package was a yo-yo. That’s right. A yo-yo.

In Lundinor, yo-yos are uncommon. Meaning, they are weapons that create whirlwinds to fend off murderous selkies and giant grim-wolves. I loved this concept and wanted to share it with the kids. But I didn’t want it to be just ANY yo-yo. So I bought Duncan “Lime Light” yo-yos that change color as you spin them!

duncan limelight yo yoI bought these directly from Duncan’s website for $5 a pop. And because it’s currently Duncan’s 90th anniversary (wow!) they were 15% off and free shipping. The kids loved them, of course!

yo yo lights