The Trials of “Sir Winter”

If you’re like us, your office is freezing and your commute is worse, and you’re just about fed up with the “polar vortex”. With all this cold weather almost everyone is frankly, sick of winter. But did you ever stop to think about how poor Sir Winter himself feels? After all, he’s just doing his job (and doing it well this season) but he receives so much scorn.

So here’s a picture book story to warm your heart a little and perhaps remind you that Old Man Winter, for his part, has it bad too:






babyWe’ll just have to wait and see what the groundhog says on Sunday about the arrival of the infant Spring (as if you won’t be watching the Super Bowl instead). Hopefully we’ll see him soon!


Images and text from: “Sir Winter,” in Laughter Book for Little Folks (New York: James Miller, [ca 1880]), p. 11-13.  Cotsen 5847

Laughter Book consists of five publications, including reprints from earlier English editions of Heinrich Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter and Konig Nussknacker.

The source for the images of “Sir Winter” is from the artist Moritz von Schwind’s “Denn Weihnachten hat der Winter gebracht,”published in Die Fliegende Blatter 6 (1847), nr. 124, s. 27.

Reference: Ruehle, Reiner, Boese Kinder (1999), 767.

A tribute to winter by Maurice Boutet de Monvel for the first day of spring

I often get a glimpse of unfamiliar books in the collection when they circulate from the stacks to the reading room and back.  One such book was Rondes des quatres saisons(1884), which celebrates the passing of the seasons in four pieces, with lyrics by the poet Leon Valade (1844-1884), music by Leopold Dauphin (1847-?), and illustrations by several artists, including Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1851-1913), best known for his patriotic picture book biography of Joan of Arc.

Rondes des quatres saisons

Rondes crossed my desk on Monday, when winter was doing its best to reassert itself as it does when the weather finally starts to warm up.  While leafing through the volume, I found this chilling, but charming illustration of children stamping their feet to keep warm in a snow shower.

children stamping their feet to keep warm in a snow shower

Rondes des quatres saisons came to the Cotsen Children’s Library with the acquisition of the Diana Rexford Tillson Collection in the mid-1990s.   Its vast holdings of picture books, scores, sheet music, sound recordings, and toys documenting the history of music education and appreciation were thoughtfully selected by Miss Tillson, who was for years a Suzuki method violin teacher.  Small discoveries like this Boutet de Monvel illustration are reminders of how rich Miss Tillson’s collection is.  Thanks to her vision, it will continue to support in the years to come both the musicologist looking for a rare edition of Sir Thomas Morley and the performer looking for a piece of sheet music to rearrange for barber shop quartet.