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Elise von Holtrop, border design, headpiece and the letters A and B for an unidentified alphabet book (possibly unpublished); D. Viel, pen and ink drawing of a crew of elves chopping down a flower.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).


Happy Hanukkah! Some Jewish Children’s Picture Books

Seeing as the “Festival of Lights” is upon us (tonight will be the sixth night after all) we thought we might showcase some children’s books about Hanukkah. As you will see, authors and illustrators approach the story and its traditions in many different ways.

american covers

Cotsen: 7385, 11832, 43355 respectively

The first Hanukkah book, Happy Hanukah Everybody (New York: United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education, 1955), is notable as an early example of Maurice Sendak’s illustrations. Written by Rabbi Hyman Chanover and his wife Alice Chanover, this book tells the story of one family’s typical first night and Hanukkah traditions.


Spread [1-2], 7385

A very Sendakian orange lion decoration. spread [5-6], 7385


A very didactic inclusion of sheet music and transliterated lyrics for the Hanukkah berakhah (blessing). page [11], 7385


What first night of Hanukkah would be complete without a new kitten? page [22], 7385

The next book, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (New York : Holiday House, c1989) was a Caldecott winner written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The story centers around a wanderer named Hershel of Ostropol (based on the historical folk-hero prankster) who outsmarts a group of goblins haunting a synagogue and preventing the locals from celebrating Hanukkah.

page [3], 11832


Hershel tricks a goblin by tweaking the rules of the dreidel game spread [14-15], 11832


spread [18-19], 11832


Hershel facing down the Goblin King. page [23], 11832

The next book is . . . interesting. I chose to include it in this post because of its singular focus and peculiarities. The KvetchiT : a Hanukkah tale, was written by Larry Butchins  and illustrated by Celia Yitzchak (St. Helier, Jersey : Pitspopany, c1994). Published on the English channel island of Jersey, the story centers around the miraculous birth of a creature who feeds on kvetches (gripes and complaints). The KvetchiT has been around ever since the Maccabees complained that there wasn’t a lot of oil in the Holy Temple to light the menorah (though it miraculously burned for eight days). For better or worse, we do not have the cassette tape of the The 20 greatest kvetches ever told! indicated on the front cover of the book.


page [2], 43355


page [5], 43355


page [6], 43355


page [12], 43355


page [22], 43355


spread [25-26], 43355

The Cotsen collection boasts hundreds of books, pamphlets, toys, and games about or related to the Jewish culture and people, mostly from the 20th century. We hold over 700 titles in Hebrew and Yiddish (in Hebrew script), but many of our books related to Judaism are also in English and German.

Only one of these Hebrew language books, however, seems to be related to Hanukkah. La-sevivon (translating to the dreidel, which is actually a Yiddish word), by Salman Schneur, is a story about a silver dreidel who goes on an adventure to gather Hanukkah gelt (and in this case real gold coins) and meets a sapient goat along the way (Frankfurt am Main: Hotz’at Omonut; 1922):

front wrapper, 50019

front wrapper, 50019


page [5], 50019


Here our studious goat is distracted from studying the Chumash (book form of the Torah) by our dreidel hero. page [7], 50019

page [9], 50019

page [9], 50019

Notably, our holdings of Hanukkah books are mostly English language and published in the US. We have around twenty American books related to Hanukkah, while I could locate only one Hanukkah book in Hebrew (though it has been a very long time since I went to Hebrew school). This collections bias might reflect the importance of the holiday as a particularly Jewish-American tradition (there were simply more American books about Hanukkah for Mr. Cotsen to collect). As a seasonal companion to Christmas, and the very American culture of. . . gift giving. . . surrounding the winter holidays, Hanukkah enjoys a lot of attention in the US. But like the typical American Christmas, the holiday is mostly observed at home and with the family. Since most Jewish families don’t huddle around a fire and read Maccabees 1-2 (these books are actually non-canonical in Judaism), children’s books about Hanukkah provide a useful vehicle for transmitting the story and passing on the holiday traditions.

In locating books for this blog post I also noticed one tradition that my family shares with the Cotsen family: the tradition of giving books!

Cotsen Family Bookplate, free endpaper verso, 10320

Cotsen Family bookplate, free endpaper verso, 10320

Happy Holidays everyone!

To learn more about the book La Sevivon and the history and odyssian migration of the Hebrew language publisher Omonut, check out this blog post from the Library of Congress: From Russia With Love: Illustrated Children’s Books in Hebrew