Yesterday we received the sad news that Henry Martin, ’48, New Yorker cartoonist, had passed away just a few weeks shy of his ninety-fifth birthday. My colleague Julie Mellby posted this lovely tribute to Henry, who was a generous donor to Graphic Arts. He was also one of the first to make a gift to Cotsen after it opened its doors in Firestone Library. He was cleaning house and asked with his characteristic tact and wide smile if Cotsen would be interested in having the artwork for a Golden Book that he’d collaborated on with his daughter Ann. I’d grown up chuckling over his New Yorker cartoons, but had no idea he’d ever created a picture book, much less one about moving, a subject that gives librarians the shakes. It was altogether appropriate that Henry’s gift was honored at the close of the collections move during the Firestone Renovation. Today we’re rerunning Ian Dooley’s 2015 post in memory of Henry, whose work was a reminder that humor need not always sting deeply to make us laugh and learn.
To celebrate the very early end of our recent department-wide collections move, we thought it would be fun to post about an item from the collection that’s all about moving.
Moving Day in Feather Town (1989) is a heart-warming picture book written by Ann M. Martin and illustrated by her father Henry Martin about two chickens, Fran and Emma, who decide to switch houses.
Ann’s name might sound familiar because she’s the author of the first 35 novels of the beloved “Baby-Sitters Club” series and the 2003 Newbery Medal award winner, A Corner of the Universe. Henry Martin is one of the famous New Yorker cartoonists and creator of a long running comic strip “Good News/Bad News,” among other things. Perhaps less known is that Ann happens to be a Princeton native and Henry a member of the Princeton University class of ’48 and donor to the Graphic Arts collection in Special Collections.
The Princeton connection explains why the Illustrator very kindly gifted his original artwork for the book to the Cotsen collection. So today I can not only show you some of the highlights of this story, I can showcase aspects of the production of the work as well.
The story Begins with a frustrated Fran and Emma waking up in their respective homes:They’re both so envious of the other’s house and just sick of their boring old places!So they have they a great idea: swap houses!
And they both get excited and packed up and ready to move. But before long they both get cold feet. Unfortunately, neither has the heart to admit it to their friend. So they both decide to go through with it instead, on the day of the big parade no less:And with heavy hearts, and all the items in the house packed away, each prepares her respective final act in the home: But much to their mutual excitement, the two moving chicken friends get caught in the very parade they thought they’d miss. They even run into each other during the festivities: Unfortunately they run into each other a little too literally and disaster strikes: After all the commotion and confusion the pair are distraught and fear that they will never be allowed to join the parade again. Emma finally admits that she doesn’t want to move, and Fran is relieved at feeling the same. The friends part in happiness and return to their original houses: Well so much for Fran and Emma’s move . . . but it all worked out in the end!
Our move to new vault space in Firestone Library, on the other hand, was much more necessary and much more efficiently handled. Not one crash!
***We’d like to thank the hard work and dedication of the CDTF team (you know who you are) and the Clancy-Cullen movers for doing such a great job.