Moving Day in Feather Town

cover

Front wrapper, Item 6540798

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 fun little 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 prolific “Baby-Sitters Club” series and other novels like the 2003 Newbery Medal awarded A Corner of the Universe. Henry Martin might be better known for his New Yorker illustrations and his long running comic strip “Good News/Bad News”. Perhaps less known, however, is that Ann happens to be a Princeton native and Henry a member of the Princeton University class of ’48.

This Princeton connection perhaps explains why the Illustrator 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.

Original artwork for the front wrapper

Original artwork for the front wrapper, Item 6540798, (notice the addition of a blue background to the published work)

The story Begins with a frustrated Fran and Emma waking up in their respective homes:

Page spread of [1] and [2]

Page spread of [1] and [2]

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:

Page [8]

And with heavy hearts, and all the items in the house packed away, each prepares her respective final act in the home:

Page [12]

Page [12]

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:

Page spread of [18] and [19]

Page spread of [18] and [19]

Page spread of [18] and [19] galley (Notice how the original boarders have been clipped during production)

Page spread of [18] and [19] original artwork (Notice the absence of text and how the original boarders have been clipped during production)

Unfortunately they run into each other a little too literally and disaster strikes:

Page [19]

Page [20]

Page [19] original artwork

Page [20] original artwork

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:

Page [23]

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.

Quotable Quotes from Kingsley’s Water-Babies

Front board, Cotsen 15234

Front board of Cotsen 15234, with design of Tom the water baby enjoying aquatic sports.

 

A revered professor in the UCLA English Department used to say that when a person could rattle on confidently about a book (preferably some uncontested masterpiece like Hamlet or Ulysses) without having ever cracked it open, only then could the degree of  Ph.d be conferred.

Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1863) is one of those books I thought I could fake with impunity.   In fact, when asked to serve on the advisory board of the Grolier 100 Books Famous in Children’s Literature project I did not confess my ignorance, knowing that Brian Alderson would wrangle The Water-Babies entry as editor of the Oxford World Classics edition.   This month  I was finally obliged to fetch the book from the basement, where it had been languishing for some time, and read from cover to cover–without benefit of any pictures, either.

Page 17, Cotsen 39124

Page 17, Cotsen 39124. Tom was a chimney sweep before being transformed into a water baby. Here he stumbles into a village school, where he sees for the first time children working at their lessons.

I’m happy to say that The Water-Babies lived up to its reputation as one of the most peculiar children’s books ever written and some of the passages about the rearing and educating of children are worth sharing.  All quotations from the 1995 Oxford University Press paperback edited by Brian Alderson, of course.  If you have a tender stomach, Kingsley’s indelicate sense of humor may not be your cup of tea.

Here is the hideous and not entirely benign fairy Mrs. Be-Done-By-As-You-Did, who visits the water-babies on Fridays. When pleased with them, she gives “them all sorts of nice sea-things–sea-cakes, sea-apples, sea-oranges, sea-bullseyes, sea-toffee; and to the very best of all she gave sea-ices, made out of sea-cows’ cream, which never melt under water.”

[161] Tipped-in plate, Cotsen 15234

[161] Tipped-in plate of Mrs. Be-Done-By-As-You-Did by Jessie Willcox Smith, Cotsen 15234

The real business of the day is to “call up all who have ill-used little children, and serve them as they served the children….And first she called up all the doctors who give little children so much physic (they were most of them old ones; for all the young ones have learnt better, all but a few army surgeons, who still fancy that a baby’s inside is much like a Scotch grenadier’s), and she set them in a row; and very rueful they looked, for they knew what was coming.

And first she pulled all their teeth out; and then she bled them all round; and then she dosed them with calomel, and jalap, and salts and senna, and brimstone and treacle; and horrible faces they made; and then she gave them a great emetic of mustard and water, and no basons; and began all over again; and that was the way she spent the morning” (Chapter V, p. 109).

This second excerpt is less savage, unless you happen to be in the children’s book publishing business.  During his journey to the Other-end-of-Nowhere, the hero Tom visits a number of remarkable places.

“And first he went through Waste-paper-land, where all the stupid books lie in heaps, up hill and down dale, like leaves in a winter wood; and there he saw people digging and grubbing among them, to make worse books out of bad ones, and thrashing chaff to save the dust of it; and a very good trade they drove thereby, especially among children” (Chapter VIII, p. 157).

Last but not least is an excerpt from Tom’s sojourn in the Isle of the Tomtoddies:

“And when Tom came near it, he heard such a grumbling and grunting and growling and waiting and weeping and whining that he thought people must be wringing little pigs, or cropping puppies’ ears, or drowning kittens: but when he came nearer still, he began to hear words among the noise, which was the Tomtoddies’ song which they sing morning and evening, and all night too, to their great idol Examination–“I can’t learn my lesson: the examiner’s coming!”  And that was the only song they knew….

Then he looked round for the people of the island: but instead of men, women, and children, he found nothing but turnips and radishes, beet and mangold wurzel, without a single green leaf among them, and half of them burst and decayed with toadstools growing out of them.  Those which were left began crying to Tom, in half a dozen different languages at once, and all of them badly spoken, “I can’t learn my lesson,; do come help me!”  And one cried, “Can you show me how to extract this square-root?”  And another, “Can you tell me the distance between Lyra and Cmelopardalis?”  And another, “What is the latitude and longitutde of Snooksville, in Noman’s County, Oregon, US?” (Chapter VIII, p. 165)

Page 202, Tomtoddies vignette, Cotsen 34543

Harold Jones’s illustration of the Tomtoddies imploring Tom to stop and help them. Page 202, Cotsen 34543

This post may squelch most people’s desire to read Kingsley, but perhaps a few will be curious to dip into a story dubbed by its author as “all a fairy tale and only fun and pretense,” that was one of the great children’s best-sellers of all time.  It’s never too late for a Kingsley revival???

Page 15 vignette, Cotsen 15234

Tom talking to his friend the lobster as imagined by Jessie Willcox Smith. Page 15 vignette, Cotsen 15234