NYPL Exhibit: The ABCs of Children’s Literature

I love old books—who wouldn’t? I wandered into the NYPL’s special exhibit on children’s literature this past Monday, and was so taken that I am breaking my summer fast from blogging.

Given the long association of children with animals (nineteenth-century writers routinely declared that science proved children and the “lower” animals were essentially the same) it’s not surprising that many pieces in the NYPL’s exhibit featured animals.

Behold, a copy of the New England Primer, the most popular children’s reader of the eighteenth-century.


Note the nice things said about the wonderful dog (“A dog will bite/A thief in the night”) and the evil cat (“The cat doth play/And after slay”). Rude.

This is the frontispiece for a 1666 (!) copy of Aesop’s Fables:

This is from “A Cat and Mouse” by Kiyoharu Kondo, ca. 1725. Anime from the Edo period?

An original 1901 drawing for Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:



And I close with an NYPL oldie but goodie, Christopher Robin’s original stuffed toy collection (which inspired Winnie the Pooh):


If you’re around, check out the exhibit. It is very well done, and while you’re there you can clamber up Patience and Fortitude.

(open till March 24, 2014)