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Top 10 Children's Books for the Holiday Season

By Katie Behrens. Dec 14, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Christmas Books

Whether you’re eight years old or eighty, there’s something magical about receiving a children’s book as a holiday gift. Whether it's a story you knew and loved as a child, or one you're passing on to a new generation, children's books stir old memories and create new. You open up the wrapping paper to find a beautiful story that transports you to a different place and time.  It is also a meaningful experience for the gift giver, wanting to pass along a character or story that they loved as a child. And for those merely ‘young at heart’, what a joy to receive a rare copy of a book that you haven’t seen in years!

     
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Collecting Saul Bellow

By Audrey Golden. Dec 13, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Awarded Books

During his long writing career, Saul Bellow wrote 17 books that were reviewed in The New York Times over a period of six decades. Many of those reviews were written by prominent writers in their own right, such as Cynthia Ozick, Irving Howe, and Alfred Kazin. Even earlier, Bellow himself was writing articles for the newspaper on other authors’ works and questions about his own texts. And that’s not all. He also wrote a play, and he was interviewed hundreds of times over the years in which he wrote. He also began editing a literary magazine, News from the Republic of Letters, when he was 81 years old. During his lifetime, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the same year, and the National Book Award on three separate occasions. All of this to say that Bellow not only was extremely well-reviewed and prolific over the course of his career, but that it’s not really a surprise that his books have become so collectible. Bellow was born in Quebec in 1915, spent most of his adult life in Chicago, and died in 2005 in Brookline, Massachusetts. We want to give you some advice for building a collection of Bellow’s work.

     
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Book Spotlight: Wag-by-Wall by Beatrix Potter

Beloved children's book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was a staple in many childhoods. Perhaps best known for her Peter Rabbit stories, Potter was a prolific writer with familiar, enchanting illustrations. In 1944, Wag-by-Wall, originally intended for The Fairy Caravan, was published for the first time in The Hornbook Magazine. When published as a book, illustrations were omitted since Potter did not include them in any drafts. The setting of the book is based on the Lake District Potter lived in and loved. Her detailed descriptions of the setting and characters serve as an excellent example of Potter’s skill as a storyteller and her magical ability to enrapture readers of all ages.  

     
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Cornelia Funke: Fantasy for All Ages

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 10, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Movie Tie-Ins, Book Collecting

German writer Cornelia Funke was born in 1958 in Dorsten in what was formerly West Germany. She studied pedagogy at the University of Hamburg and after graduation, worked for three years as a social worker. She married book printer Rolf Frahme in 1979 and shortly after, left social work to briefly pursue illustration. However, she quickly turned to writing her own books, and her efforts have been supremely successful. Her first books, which in English were titled Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost and C.H.I.X., were published in 1993, and each were the the first book in a series for elementary-aged readers. She published her first novel, The Thief Lord, in 2000 and has gone on to write many successful novels for young adults, including Dragon Rider and the Inkheart trilogy, and most recently the MirrorWorld novel The Golden Yarn and picture book The Book No One Ever Read.

     
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Remembering James Thurber

By Lauren Corba. Dec 8, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Caldecott Medal

On December 8, 1894, James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio to Charles and Mary Thurber. His father was a clerk and minor politician with bigger dreams of being a lawyer or actor. Thurber was the middle child and while playing a game of “William Tell” with his brothers, he was shot in the eye with an arrow and from the accident, lost sight in one of his eyes. Although sight remained in the uninjured eye, he had various vision problems throughout his life. His wound left him unable to participate in normal activities for children his age, which left him to pursue indoor activities and enhance his imagination.

     
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The Real Man Behind Santa Claus (And the Books That Made Him Famous)

By Leah Dobrinska. Dec 6, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Christmas Books

At this time of year, it is common to hear cheery adults ask wide-eyed children, “What do you want from Santa Claus?” In the lead-up to Christmas day, one can find a white-beard wielding, red suit wearing, rosy-faced man at most every shopping center and holiday event, and whether the young children are excited to tell him their Christmas wishes or run screaming in terror at the thought of sitting upon his lap, imagining Christmas without Santa Claus is incredibly difficult. Indeed, Santa has become so intertwined with the Christmas holiday that for many, he takes center stage on December 24 and 25. What are the origins of the modern day Santa Claus? Who was the real St. Nicholas? And who helped bring the image of the man in the red suit into popular culture?

     
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Hugo vs. Disney: The Changing Case of Notre-Dame

By Abigail Bekx. Dec 5, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Movie Tie-Ins, Legendary Authors

Walt Disney and his successors have a long tradition of retelling famous stories. Their history of changing the original work is usually rationalized as making the content more suitable for children, but, in some cases, the changes go past small edits. As with most books changed into movies, in order to condense a long work into only 90 minutes, certain more unnecessary plot points must be cut. When remaking The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, however, Disney did more than simplify and streamline. Some elements were removed by necessity, such as much of the violence and many attempted seductions of Esmeralda, to make it appropriate for children, but some of the changes drastically altered characters and plot elements present in Victor Hugo’s original novel. 

     
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David Macaulay's Books For All Age

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 2, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

David Macaulay's books and illustrations are as thought-provoking as they are whimsical. He first had his idea for a French gargoyle story, which became Cathedral: The Story of its Construction, in the early seventies. While the lovely gargoyle ladies of medieval France did not make the cut, he was left with a drawing of a cathedral. This inspired a trip to Europe for research and resulted in the aforementioned Cathedral: The Story of its Construction's publication in the spring of 1973. Macaulay was given the Caldecott Honor Award for his efforts. He had been an interior designer and a high school teacher before, but after receiving such a prestigious award, he devoted himself to teaching illustration at his alma mater, the Rhode Island Institute of Design, and to writing and illustrating.

     
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Four of Jan Brett's Snowy Stories

By Abigail Bekx. Dec 1, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Legendary Illustrators

As winter approaches, it is nice to curl up with a book and a blanket, or, if one is lucky enough to live someplace warm, to pretend it is cold. One author and illustrator especially suited for snowy day reading is Jan Brett. Due to her extensive research, Brett’s illustrations hold an element of realism, which helps readers connect to the characters and settings. With over 30 books, readers are presented with many options to choose from when finding a snowy story. Enjoyable by adult and child readers, Brett’s books provide a perfect winter read.   

     
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Mark Twain and the First Great American Novel

By Kristin Wood. Nov 30, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

It's hard to overstate the influence of Mark Twain. Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn," and many critics now cite this work as the first "Great American Novel."

While the majority of those in the English-speaking world have heard of Mark Twain, and his two most famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they may not know as much about this classic American author as they may think. To start with, Mark Twain is not even his real name.

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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