Easter Bunny Handkerchiefs

The featured illustrations of hard-working Easter bunnies were not taken from a picture book, but from a group of children’s handkerchiefs in the collection.  These four, along with forty-eight more examples, were bound into a book (Cotsen 18735). There is an inscription in German dated December 1902 and the style of the pictures suggests they are from the 1890s.

First gather the eggs from the hen.

Now they can be hard boiled.

Next, the decoration.

Get to the stall early for the best selection!

All the subjects in this volume of handkerchiefs suggest that they were manufactured for the children’s market.  There are pictures of circus acts, including one of lions jumping through hoops of fire.  Four each tell the story of Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood.  Others show children playing at the beach, rolling hoops, sailing a boat, and parading down a country lane. Three illustrate scenes from the story of Noah’s ark.

If you are wondering why there are handkerchiefs in the Cotsen Children’s Library, here’s the answer.  Mr. Cotsen was also a passionate collector of textiles and accumulated quite a selection of children’s handkerchiefs–enough to fill three boxes– which he gave to the Cotsen Children’s Library, instead of a museum.  And why not?  After all, there are at least fifteen boxes of cloth books in the stacks as well…

Hoppy Easter!


Where in the World is little Holly Healthy!?

Politicians have joined movie stars and rock icons in the ranks of aspiring children’s book authors.  Years before Karen Pence published  A Day in the Life of the Vice President (the book that inspired Marlon Bundo) Catherine Pugh, the mayor of Baltimore and fitness fanatic, created the “Healthy Holly” series to inspire children to improve the physical and mental well-being of themselves, their friends and families.

My hat is off to Mayor Pugh for jumping in where Newbery and Caldecott award winners fear to tread because writing self-help for kids has to be one of the most difficult of all genres to write.   Persuading couch potatoes of any age that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will make them better, more beautiful people is a hard sell.

One indirect approach to changing eating habits is to write a cookbook for kids, full of easy recipes for dishes that taste good and are good for you.  So nutritious and delicious that everyone will compliment the cook by asking for seconds.  Weave a conversion narrative around the recipes and you get…

Jules Bass. Cooking with Herb the Vegetarian Dragon: A Cookbook for Kids. Illustrated by Debbie Harter. (New York: Barefoot Books, 1999). Cotsen in process.

Herb is relentlessly upbeat about changing eating styles, but he gets it  when aspiring vegetarians fall off the wagon once in a while on their journey.   And if a fire-breathing dragon in chef’s whites can push a wheelbarrow brimming with fresh produce around the Kingdom of Nogard, anyone can!  But it’s his recipes that work the magic on people who never thought they could give up m–t.

Herb’s no-meat patties with their dynamite secret ingredient puts the King of Nogard off his favorite wild boar burgers forever.  For his service to the arteries of the kingdom, Herb is knighted. 

Herb’s spicy chili full of textured vegetable protein, kidney beans, and grated cheese makes a believer of his buddy Meathook.  When Meathook has his friends over for dinner, no one can get enough of Herb’s veggie pasta.   Maybe Meathook will pass along Herb’s name to Drogon, Rhaegar, and Viserion for the wrap party of Game of Thrones, season eight….

Not all anthropomorphized animals pressed into service as role models are perfect like Herb.  There’s Tiffany Dino, who gorges on pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and peanut butter sandwiches and loves every bite, even though  the chair is groaning from the strain?   When her shirts ride up over her belly button, she decides it is time to turn over a new leaf.  Maybe Tiffany can get her act together. 

It turns out that Tiffany Dino belongs to the fallible but loveable category of animal stand-ins for children.  She eats healthy and works out for a week, but when she weighs herself, not one ounce less.  She decides to accept herself as a big, green, and intermittently buff dinosaur who weighs six hundred pounds after making a new, very large friend who likes Tiffany just the way she is because there is so much to hug.

So how does Holly Healthy compare with Herb and Tiffany?  At the time of writing this post, it was not possible to obtain a copy of any of the four titles: “Healthy Holly: Fruits Come in Colors Like the Rainbow;” “Healthy Holly” Exercising is Fun!;” “Healthy Holly: Not all Vegetables are Green;” and “Healthy Holly: Walking with My Family.”  There is some confusion as to their whereabouts–if indeed they were ever written and published.   Perhaps putting out this call to the readers of the Cotsen Curatorial Blog may produce the results which will solve the mystery of the picture-book writing major of Baltimore.  Any or all of the titles would be welcome additions to  Cotsen’s collection of children’s books by politicians or their wives…