Monday, June 18, 2012

A quick trip back in time: Happy Little Edward, 1850.

I rarely take the time to read little toy books from the mid-19th Century.  For the most part the writing is  dull and written with the purpose to drill morals or blandly presented facts into the minds of young children.  More often than not, the writing is preachy and condescending.

However, I looked into one of my glass display cases and saw Happy Little Edward and thought, "Well, how bad could it be?"

To my surprise, it wasn't bad at all.  I would not say it would appeal to today's child, but I can imagine that back in 1850 a child would have been most glad to read this as a reprieve from the drudgery of Sanford & Merton-type writings.  (If you're unfamiliar with Sanford & Merton, count yourself lucky.)

It is the story of Edward, a city boy, who takes a journey to the country to visit relatives.  On his journey he learns about different animals and birds, where rivers flow to and revels in the beauty of his surroundings.  The book reinforces kindness to animals, which is also refreshing for this time period.  Morals and instruction are presented in the story, but it is done subtly and within context, so it doesn't feel heavy-handed.

Below, I present the toy book in its entirety: Happy Little Edward, and His Pleasant Ride and Rambles in the Country. New Haven, CT: S. Babcock, 1850.

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