Andrew Larsen: Me and Mr. Carnegie

March 6, 2019 | TPL Staff

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Photo credit: Tom McFeat. Used with permission.

We invite you to Andrew Larsen: Me and Mr. Carnegie on Thursday, April 25 at 7pm in the lower level of Lillian H. Smith branch. Presented by the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, this is the 16th Albert Lahmer Memorial Lecture. Larsen will talk about how Carnegie's legacy of libraries has enriched our city's life. He will also talk about his own relationship with Toronto's libraries and the way in which it has shaped his writing. 

It's free! All are welcome!

Carnegie Libraries

The Man Who Loved Libraries

Larsen's neighbourhood has tall trees and old houses and is full of stories. His local library is also a Carnegie library. You, too, may have a Carnegie library near you, since seven of the original ten are currently in use. Find out more about Toronto's Carnegie Libraries.

My hometown of Woodstock, Ontario, has a Carnegie library:

Riverdale branch, my current local library, is also a Carnegie library.

About Andrew Larsen

Larsen was born in Montreal, where he lived until his family moved to Toronto when he was twelve. He has resided in Halifax, Ottawa and London, England, but he now lives in Toronto as an author and stay-at-home dad of two children. 

Larsen always loved reading and writing, but it wasn't until he became a father that he started to write books. Now, he is a critically acclaimed and award-winning author of twelve picture books. Here is a selection of them:

The Imaginary Garden

In the Tree House

A Squiggly Story

The Not-So-Faraway Adventure


Lillian H. Smith

Larsen loves to visit schools and libraries. One of the libraries he likes to visit is Lillian H. Smith branch, named after Lillian Helena Smith (1887-1983). She was hired in 1912 by Toronto Public Library to organize its newly established children’s division. She was head of Children's Services at Toronto Public Library for 40 years, 1912-1952. Her Books for Boys and Girls is considered a standard reference text to this day.

Believing in Books

On September 27, 1922, Toronto Public Library opened Boys and Girls House Library. Originally a private home (built in 1875), the building then housed the first library in the British Empire devoted exclusively to children.

This building was demolished in 1963, and a new Boys and Girls House opened on May 7, 1964.

Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books

Due to Smith's commitment and high standards, Edgar Osborne (1890-1978), a British librarian and collector, donated approximately 2,000 books to Toronto Public Library. The books were officially received in 1949, and the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books was born. It was housed at Boys and Girls House until 1995, when that library was replaced by a new facility, named the Lillian H. Smith Branch. It opened on October 16, 1995, and was designed by Phillip H. Carter. Located on the 4th floor, the collection has now grown to include over 90,000 rare and notable children's books from the fourteenth century to the present. It represents one of several Special Collections at Toronto Public Library.

100 Years of Children's Services (1912-2012)

In 2012, Toronto Public Library celebrated the 100th anniversary of children’s services at Toronto Public Library. It had been 100 years since the hiring of Lillian H. Smith. In celebration, 100 Books for 100 Years of Children's Services, 1912-2012 was published. The Friends of the Osborne and Lillian H. Smith Collections chose to honour this milestone by sponsoring the purchase of an original illustration to the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books.

The Osborne Collection: Home of Children’s Literary Heroes (2011)

Dusan Petricic - The Osborne Collection - Home of Children's Literary Heroes - 2011
Illustration by Dušan Petričić. Reproduced with permission from the artist.

This ink and watercolour illustration is by Dušan Petričić, the illustrator of Andrew Larsen's In the Tree House (one of the books shown above). It was originally published in The Toronto Star. It first appeared in the End Notes of the Ideas section in Dusan's World (Page ID12. 2007, Jun 24). It was reprinted in the Insight section in Dusan's Toronto (Page IN4. November 6, 2011). Just use your Toronto Public Library card to read the full articles.

See if you can spot the following characters: Little Bo Peep, the Pied Piper of Hamelin; Anne Shirley (of Green Gables); Piglet and Winnie the Pooh; the Cheshire Cat, Long Necked Alice and a Playing Card (Alice in Wonderland); Old Mother Hubbard; the Tin Woodman on a Flying Monkey (The Wizard of Oz); Robinson Crusoe!

Come visit the Osborne Collection soon to meet these children's literary characters, and many more like them!

Griffin - Stubbs

With thanks to Martha Scott, Liz Derbecker and Yuka Kajihara-Nolan.

All of the books featured in this post may also be found in the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books.