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Verna Aardema Papers, 1959, 1970-1982

Summary Information
Title: Verna Aardema papers
Dates: 1959, 1970-1983
Creator: Aardema, Verna.
Extent: 1 box (0.3 cubic feet)
Language: Collection material in English
Collection Number: CLRC-102
The collection contains typescripts, proofs, notes and clippings for children's books written by Verna Aardema.

Repository: University of Minnesota Libraries Children's Literature Research Collections

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Gift of Verna Aardema in 1969. Additional donations were made in the 1970s-1980s.

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for researchers with no restrictions. Registration with the collection is required. Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.


Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Preferred Citation:

Verna Aardema papers, Children's Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis.


The collection is arranged in alphabetical order by publication title.

Biographical Sketch

Verna Aardema Vugteveen was born June 6, 1911 in New Era, Michigan. She earned a BA in Journalism (1934) from Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Michigan State University) and worked as a grade school teacher in Michigan and later as a staff correspondent for the Muskegon Chronicle . In 1960 she published her first book Tales from the Story Hat , a retelling of some African folktales. Aardema became well known for her adaptions of traditional folktales, primarily from Africa and Mexico. Her books are cited by critics for their authenticity and detail and Aardema's ability to combine humor, magic, and adventure with moral themes. Critics also praise her use of simple, rhythmic language and repetitive sounds; two qualities that make her books read-aloud favorites with children.

Many of Aardema's books have been award winners, including the 1978 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award for Who's in Rabbit's House (1977); Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears (1975) was a New York Times Notable Book and won the Caldecott Medal in 1976; Oh Kojo! How Could You! (1984) won the Parents' Choice Award for Literature.

Verna Aardema died on May 11, 2000.

Biographical Source: Something About the Author, vol. 68, pp. 1-4.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection contains typescripts, corrected typescripts, corrected carbons, proofs, notes, a paste-up dummy, clippings and reviews, and correspondence for 8 children's books titles written by Verna Aardema between 1959 and 1982.

Collection Contents
 Location  Title
Behind the Back of the Mountain: Black Folktales from Southern Africa 1973 
Box 1
Corrected typescript, 1970  Box 1 , Folder 7
Corrected typescript and correspondence, 1970, 1972-1973  Box 1 , Folder 8
Half-a-Ball-of-Kenki: An Ashanti Tale Retold 1979  
Box 1
Typescript, corrected carbon, correspondence, and clippings, 1977-1979  Box 1 , Folder 5
Riddle of the Drum, The 1979  
Box 1
Corrected typescripts and carbons, correspondence, and illustration proof, 1976-1979  Box 1 , Folder 6
Tales for the Third Ear, from Equatorial Africa 1969  
Box 1
Paste-up dummy, undated  Box 1 , Folder 1
Corrected typescripts, undated  Box 1 , Folder 2-3
Tales from the Story Hat 1960  
Box 1
Corrected typescript, 1959  Box 1 , Folder 4
What's So Funny, Ketu?: A Nuer Tale 1982  
Box 1
Corrected typescript, 1978-1981 Box 1 , Folder 11
Correspondence and notes, 1978-1982  Box 1 , Folder 12
Photocopy of illustrations and color proof, undated  Box 1 , Folder 13
Who's in Rabbit's House: A Masai Tale Retold 1977  
Box 1
Corrected carbons, correspondence, and dummy, 1976-1977  Box 1 , Folder 9
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale 1975  
Box 1
Typescripts, corrected carbons, correspondence, clippings, and reviews, 1973-1976  Box 1 , Folder 10