On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Some True Loves Gave to Cotsen…


Maurice Sendak, “Before You Jump Online,” a study for print advertisement for Bell Atlantic’s campaign “Wild Things are Happening” (1998). Gift of Dennis M. V. David.

Maurice Sendak, “Stretching the Dollar,” study for American Express’s campaign, “Extended Warranty” 1988.. Gift of Dennis M. V. David.




Border, headpiece, and two letters for an alphabet by Elise von Holtorp. Gift of Andrea Stillman.

A preparatory drawing by Richard (Dicky) Doyle. Gift of Andrea Stillman.






One of a group of picture books on Hanukkah from an anonymous donor in honor of Lloyd E. Cotsen and Margit Cotsen.

With heartfelt thanks to our generous donors who surprised us in December 2016!


6. The Wild Things: Gift of  Dennis M. V. David. Five preparatory drawings by Maurice Sendak for “Wild Things Are Happening,” the Bell Atlantic advertising campaign for Bell Atlantic Net, a state of the art Internet service launched in 1998.

5. The books on baking: five picture books about birthday cakes from an anonymous donor who bakes.  Sue Aldridge, Children’s Party Cakes (London: New Holland, 1998); Debbie Brown, Enchanted Cakes for Children (London: Merehurst, c2000); Alexander McCall Smith, The Great Cake Mystery.  Illustrated by Iain McIntosh (New York: Anchor, c2012); Helen Oxenbury, It’s My Birthday (Cambridge: Candlewick, 1994); Rosemary Wells, Bunny Cakes (New York: Scholastic, c1997).

4. The original artwork: four drawings presented to the Cotsen Children’s Library by Andrea Stillman.  Hugh Deane, color drawing of a troll king and his two companions; Richard “Dicky” Doyle, sketch of a girl in crown riding a reindeer; Elise von Holtrop, border design, headpiece and the letters A and B for an unidentified alphabet book (possibly unpublished); D. Viel, pen and ink drawing of a crew of elves chopping down a flower.

3. The counting books: gift of an innumerate anonymous donor.  Jennifer Adams.  Jane Eyre: A Counting Primer.  Illustrated by Alison Oliver.  A Babylit Book.  (Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2012); Barbara Barbieri McGrath.  Skittles Riddles Math.  Illustrated by Roger Glass. (Watertown, MA, Charlesbridge, 2000);  Mark Shulman, I’ll Take a Dozen. A Bagel Book. (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, c2002).

2. The banned books: gift of an anonymous donor from Boston.  Arthur C. Gackley [i.e. Bob Staake].  Bad Little Children’s Books (New York: Abrams Image, 2016); Ranim Ganeshram.  A Birthday Cake for George Washington.  Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (New York: Scholastic, 2016).

The book on Hanukkah: eleven picture books about Hanukkah in honor of Lloyd E. and Margit Cotsen from an anonymous donor from Los Angeles.  Seymour Chwast, The Miracle of Hanukkah. (Maplewood, NJ: Blue Apple Books, 2005); Woody Guthrie, Honeyky Hanukah.  Pictures by Dave Horowitz. (New York: Doubleday, 2014); Eric A. Kimmel, Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah Tale.  Illustrated by Matthew Trueman. (Los Angeles: Disney, 2014); Stephen Krensky, Hanukkah at Valley Forge.  Illustrated by Greg Harlin. (New York: Dutton, c2006); Leslea Newman, The Eight Nights of Chanukah.  Illustrated by Elivia Savadier. (New York: Abrams, 2005); Leslea Newman, Runaway Dreidel!  Illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker. (New York: Henry Holt, 2002); Amanda Peet & Andrea Troyer, Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein.  Illustrated by Christine Davenier. (New York: Doubleday, 2015); Ronne Randall, The Hanukkah Mice.  Illustrated by Maggie Kneen. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008), Richard and Tanya Simon, Oskar and the Eight Blessings.  Illustrated by Mark Siegel. (New York: Roaring Brook, 2015); Elka Weber, The Yankee at Seder.  Illustrated by Adam Gustavson.  (Berkeley: Tricycle Press, 2009); Jane Yolen, How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?  Illustrated by Mark Teague. (New York: Blue Sky, 2013).


A Lot of What I Needed to Know I Learned from Narnia

In Cotsen’s current exhibition, “Ice and Snow,”  an illustration of little Kai being carried off in the Snow Queen’s sleigh is next to the iconic image of Mr. Tumnus and Lucy walking through the snow from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  As much as I have always loved that picture by Pauline Baynes, the first volume of the Chronicles was not my favorite one:  I  preferred The Horse and His Boy to it, perhaps because it was the first book I remember buying with my own money.  

horseandboyThe Manhattan Beach public library didn’t own a complete set of the Narnia books, so my mother drove me to Either Or, the  independent bookstore downtown near the water, to place a special order for a volume I hadn’t read.  About two weeks later The Horse and His Boy came in and I begged to collect it first thing after school  My mother, who probably had a lot more pressing things to do that miserable, wet November afternoon, indulged me.

khan Decades later I understand completely why so many people find the Orientalism permeating The Horse and His Boy off-putting. The long exchange between the Tarkaan and Arsheesh the fisherman in the first chapter, which ends in their haggling over a price for Shasta, does deftly set in motion the lost royal orphan plot.  But the tongue-in-cheek dialogue in the style of an English translation of A Thousand and One Nights now grates.  For better or worse, the adventures of Shasta, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin thoroughly grounded me in Western conceptions of the other–East and West, black and white, North and South, the prince and the pauper.  At age nine, I doubt I realized that The Horse and His Boy also showed me at the same time how a cleverly constructed narrative subverts those seemingly inexorable oppositions and demonstrates their truthiness as much as their potency.

tisrocIt was the thread of political intrigue in The Horse and His Boy that brought me back again and again to the book.   I was simultaneously horrified and fascinated by the Tisroc’s calm betrayal of his eldest son Rabadash.  That the father could lucidly explain why the military expedition would serve his interests no matter how it turned out showed that he was as cold-blooded as a serpent.   Such a master of duplicity deserved to have his ambitions overturned, even though the absurd Rabadash would take the fall.

desertThen began the most harrowing part of the story–the forced ride across the great Calormen desert to mountainous Archenland.  The descriptions of the children beginning the journey across the sands in the cool dark of night, then continuing through the blazing day, was very real to anyone growing up in hot, dry Southern California.  It was so easy to imagine how thirsty they all were when they reached the secret valley after traveling nearly twenty-four hours.  That they fell asleep out of exhaustion and lost the advantage gained by finding the secret shortcut to Archenland was heartbreaking every time, even though I knew Rabadash would not succeed in extending the Tisroc’s empire into the free North. defileWhat the ending of The Horse and His Boy taught me I could have never anticipated.  Shasta, who was raised in a fisherman’s hut is dumbfounded with the news that he, not his twin brother Prince Corin, will be the next king of Archenland.  Shasta (or Prince Cor as he is now called) generously tries to return the crown he thinks must belong to his brother, but is told by his father King Lune that rulers are under the law and therefore cannot subvert the laws of succession at will.

“Hurrah!  Hurrah!” said Corin.  “I shan’t have to be King.  I shan’t have to be King.  I’ll always be a prince.  It’s princes have all the fun.”

“And that’s true than thy brother knows, Cor, ” said King Lune.  “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

When the situation calls for backbone, quite often I hear King Lune’s words about what it means to be a leader.  They may be good thoughts to take with us into a new year.