Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Allure of Little Golden Books

While going to the shelves to put a few recently cataloged books away, I passed by my shelf of Little Golden Books.  I don't have a wide selection as I'm very picky about which ones to carry.  The number of LGBs published is overwhelming, I daresay I would need to add an annex if I were to get too deeply into selling them.

I choose to focus on the LGB's which feature the most recognizable artists or authors or first editions of the first 12 that were published way back in 1942.

I can see why they were so appealing then, and now.  Their size is perfect for little hands.  The artwork is colorful and abundant.  The stories are (mostly) well-told and easy enough for the very young.

Enough said.  Here are a few that I have or have had.

Baum, L. Frank (Adapted by Peter Archer); Illustrated by Harry McNaught.  NY: S&S, 1952.

Lawrey, Janette Sebring; Illustrated by Tibor Gergely.  NY: S&S, 1943

Duplaix, George; Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. NY : S&S, 1947.

Brown, Margaret Wise; Illustrated by Garth Williams. NY: S&S, 1954.

Mother Goose; Illustrated by Miss Elliott. NY: S&S, 1942

Fairy Tales; Illustrated by Masha. NY: S&S, 1943.

Jackson, Kathryn; Illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. NY: S&S,  1952.

Shane, Ruth & Harold; Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. NY: S&S,  1955.

Woodcock, Louise; Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. NY: S&S, 1953.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family Reading Time

Oh, how I wish this activity would have a resurgence in popularity.

"Reading aloud was fun, and there was a "togetherness" about it that transcended subject and underscored the irrelevance of grades and word counts.  From my father we might get A. A. Milne, but the nice thing was that he wasn't reading down to us; he liked Milne, too.  He also read us Robert Frost.  Our home reading circle might, after all, have a 30-year age span, and stuff that wasn't good enough for everybody wasn't good enough for anybody.

Reading aloud had a music and a magic that quite by-passed mere communication.  It wasn't just something you did for the benefit of those who couldn't have done it for themselves.  It was a way to commune rather than communicate.  We early learned the difference..."

--Daniel Melcher from the Foreword of Newbery and Caldecott Medal and Honor Books, an Annotated Bibliography by Linda Kauffman Peterson and Marilyn Leathers Solt.  Boston: G K Hall, 1982.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Upcoming Book Fair: Concord, NH June 3rd 2012

This will be our 7th year exhibiting at one of the best Antiquarian Book Fairs in New England.  Please join us!

Where: Everett Arena - 15 Loudon Road - Concord, NH (Exit 14 off of I-93)
When: Sunday, June 3, 2012 - 10am-4pm
Admission: $5.00

A few pictures from a past fair:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fairy Tale Illustrations on a Gloomy Day

It's a rather gloomy and grey day outside.  Coffee is taking longer than usual to kick in, so I'm not feeling particularly articulate.  It seems like a good day to look at pretty pictures.

Elenore Abbott for The Six Swans from Grimm's Fairy Tales,  Charles Scribners' Sons, 1920. 

Joseph Alexander Adams for Sleeping Beauty from The Fairy Book, Harper & Brothers, 1836. 

Lola Anglada for L'Oiseau Bleu (Blue Bird) from L'Oiseau Bleu by Madame d'Aulnoy,  Hachette, Circa 1920s.

Frank Godwin for Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp from Blue Fairy Book, Edited by Andrew Lang, David McKay, 1921.

Uncredited Illus. for Le Calife Cigogne from Contes Merveilleux by Wilhelm Hauff,  Maison Alfred Mame,  Circa 1890.

Willy Pogany for Cinderella, McBride Nast, 1915.

Margaret Evans Price for Little Red Riding Hood from Once Upon A Time, Rand McNally, 1921.

Gustaf Tenggren for Princess Rosette by D'Aulnoy from Red Fairy Book Edited by Andrew Lang, McKay, 1924

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bettina Ehrlich, an Author/Illustrator in Exile: Not to Be Forgotten

In my line of work, I come across children’s books by authors and/or illustrators whose books are long out of print.  Oftentimes, the reason is clear; their books are either no good and weren’t even popular when they were published, or are just horribly dated.  Then there are those books I come across that are really good, but for some reason failed to see further printings.
         The latter is the case for a few books that I read recently by Bettina [Ehrlich].  I could find no reason why her books were not reprinted.  It may have to do with rights issues, which can sometimes be the case.  Her style could have just gone out of fashion for awhile and then just forgotten.  Another possibility is that her most popular books were large (think Babar-Sized, or the original Little Tim books by Ardizzone) and therefore too expensive to reproduce.  Honestly, shrinking them down to quarto size would be an injustice.
       Bettina Ehrlich was an artist and textile designer living in Vienna, Austria.  In 1938, she and her husband, sculptor Georg Ehrlich, fled Vienna for fear of racial persecution.  They settled in London and not long after arriving, Bettina’s first English language children’s book, a paint-book titled Show Me Yours, was picked up by Chatto and Windus in 1943. 
         In 1945 her first commercially successful book, Cocolo, was published.  It is a giant of a book, beautifully illustrated and printed, and what’s more, it is a beautiful story.  Like all of her books, the writing is straightforward, direct and tight.  This provides a nice contrast to her artwork which is wonderfully sketch-like and loose. 
        Cocolo is a little donkey who belongs to a boy named Lucio.  They live together on a small island off the coast of Italy.  One day, their little island is visited by a rich man and his daughter, Fatimus and Fussy Greedy.  (While her naming convention for the secondary characters is heavy-handed, it does not distract from the heart of the story.)  Fussy, the daughter is so taken with Cocolo that she begs her father to buy him from Lucio’s family and take him back to the mainland to live on their estate.  Poor Cocolo is sold off, thus his adventure begins.  Without making Cocolo humanized or overly cute, Bettina gives Cocolo thoughts and feelings, portrayed both in the writing and artwork, which endears him to the reader.  Being forced from the little island where he was so happy, Cocolo longs for nothing more than to get back home. 
         In Cocolo, we see many of the themes that will run through all of Bettina’s books: exile, social hierarchy and the clash of rich vs. poor.  Her books are all set in Italy, which for Bettina was her place of escape in real life.  I imagine that her creation of children’s books was also her means of escape.  The effects and emotions associated with exile ring most true in her books as it was something that she knew so intimately.  

Cocolo By Bettina [Ehrlich], Harper & Brothers, 1945

            In the same year, Bettina also published CarmelloCarmello is one of Bettina’s best constructed stories.  The first chapter tells of Carmello’s early years, how he became blind in one eye, but did not let that stand in his way of becoming a fisherman.  In fact because he only has one eye he was forced to see changes in the ocean unnoticed by other fishermen, which ultimately works to his advantage.  One day while out on his boat, he manages to rescue a prized piece of jewelry for a wealthy woman who lost it over the edge of the boat.  Years later, as a widow, the woman returns with her two granddaughters.  Without realizing who the little girls are—at first, anyway—Carmello befriends them.  In the end, Carmello is repaid for his act of bravery and kindness so long ago, bringing the tale full circle. 
          While Carmello is not of the large and impressive size as Cocolo and Bettina’s other books; it is as good and in some ways better, particularly in her writing.

Carmello by Bettina [Ehrlich], Chatto & Windus, 1945

          In the late 1940s, Bettina and George moved to New York for a year where Bettina prepared the next two Cocolo books.  Cocolo Comes to America and Cocolo’s Home.  Both of which are set in the United States.
      Cocolo Comes to America deals directly with the current events of the time; the fleeing of many Europeans to America at the end of WWII.  Lucio and Cocolo set sail for New York City to escape the poverty of war-ravaged Italy.  This book is filled with much more fun and wonderment than the previous volume.  We get to see such absurd things as Cocolo, the donkey, getting into a taxi and living in a New York City apartment.  The reader rejoices along with Cocolo as he experiences snow for the first time.  Cocolo also gains a bit of fame in this book after being hit by a car.  He ends up in an animal shelter and his story makes the evening news!  There is an outpouring of support for the little donkey from all across the country.

Cocolo Comes to America by Bettina [Ehrlich], Harper & Brothers, 1949.

After Cocolo’s Home, Bettina’s books fell somewhat out of popularity.  Pantaloni, published in 1957 is a good story about a little boy and his dog.  While well-told and illustrated, in some ways it is a reworking of Cocolo, just replace the donkey with a dog.

Pantaloni by Bettina [Ehrlich], Harper & Brothers, 1957.

           For the Leg of a Chicken is about a poor Italian boy, Roberto, who strives to work hard so that he can eat chicken every day, instead of maize pudding and sardines, which is all his poor mother can afford to feed him and his siblings.  Roberto strikes off on his own to find work in far off towns and cities.  He is sometimes tempted by others to get what he wants through mischief.  Fortunately Roberto has a conscience.  He meets a colorful cast of characters and the story moves along at a lively clip.  Bettina’s artwork in this book is truly wonderful, depicting both urban and bucolic scenes with aplomb. 

For the Leg of a Chicken by Bettina [Ehrlich], Franklin & Watts, 1957.

           Paolo and Panetto is my least favorite book that she did.  Unlike characters in her other books, which were told from the point of view of an economically challenged character struggling to make his way in the world, Paolo is a spoiled young boy.  I felt no empathy whatsoever for the character, the only problem he seems to have is that he doesn’t like going to bed.  It is not enough to engage the reader.  The story stumbles along, Paolo meets a poor girl, chases off a bully and then for no other reason than that he doesn’t want to climb twelve flights of stairs to go home, he sleeps in a garden.  While in the garden he encounters the god, Pan.  It’s quite ridiculous and Pan’s dialog is so unbecoming I almost didn’t finish the book.  Paolo is eventually returned home, but he has barely learned any sort of lesson.  There was no change in character to make his journey worthwhile, except that he is no longer afraid to go to bed.  My last sore point with the book is that the artwork did not redeem the story in any way; there were no large spreads, or even full-page drawings to get lost in.  It is her only book that I would be happy to forget.

Paolo and Panetto by Bettina [Ehrlich] Franklin & Watts, 1960.

Some information about Bettina Ehrlich and her books was taken from:
German Children’s and Youth Literature in Exile 1933-1950 by K G. Saur, 2001.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Tribute to Sendak Through Books

I am very sad today.  The best way I know how to honor Sendak is to go back and look through his books and reflect on the impact he has had on children's literature.  Through his work, he will live on.

Maurice Sendak had a long, wonderful, varied and productive career.  These are some of the books and objects I have or have had the privilege to own.  It is wonderful to see how his style evolved over the years.  The selection below just scratches the surface of his genius. 

A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1952.

I'll Be You and You Be Me by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1954

The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1964.

Big Book for Peace, cover art by Maurice Sendak, illustrations by Sendak and others, 1990.

Caldecott & Co: Essays by Maurice Sendak, 1988.

Dwarf Long-Nose by Wilhelm Hauff, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1960.

Fly by Night by Randall Jarrell, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1976.

Happy Hanukah Everybody by Hyman and Alice Chanover, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1955

A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Minarik, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1968.

Poster for Melville Biography for which Sendak created the cover art, 2002.

Dear Mili by Wilhelm Grimm Illustrated by Maurice Sendak and with a reproduction of a sketch by Sendak, 1988

Mug designed by Maurice Sendak for the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, 1987.

Pierre, by Maurice Sendak, 1962, this edition circa 1988.

Seven Tales by H. C. Andersen, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1959.

We Are all in the Dumps with Jack and Guy by Maurice Sendak, 1993

Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1966.

Card designed by Maurice Sendak in memory of his brother, Jack. 1995.

Charlotte and the White Horse by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1955.

Cunning Little Vixen by Rudolf Tesnohlidek; Illustrated By Maurice Sendak, 1985.

Program for the Glyndebourne Opera Festival designed by Maurice Sendak, 1982.

Good Shabbos, Everybody by Robert Garvey, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1951

Houston Opera Program illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1997.

The Juniper Tree and other Tales from Grimm, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1973.

Let's Be Enemies by Janice May Udry, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1961.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, 1970.

Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1960.

Somebody Else's Nut Tree by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1958

Promotional piece by Harper Collins advertising various works by Sendak, Circa 1993.

And of course...

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, 1963.