Thursday, May 14, 2009


This cute little book was published in 1933 by Rand McNally and was written and illustrated by Lillian Baker Sturges.

The story takes place in Bavaria, where all the toys are made for children around the world. Only problem is, there are no toys left for the Bavarian children.

It's told in rhyme and illustrated variously in color and black and white. I've trimmed the story down a little, but you'll get the gist.

(Actually, after re-reading this story and looking at the pictures, it's kind of creepy...all the children like zombies plodding after a bunch of creaky toys in the moonlight and then not saying a word when their mother's urge them back home.)


In far-away Bavaria, there is a queer old town whose narrow streets and dwellings quaint, have brought it great renown.
A high stone wall surrounds the place, a hundred towers rise, and many a tower once rose high that now in ruin lies.

Oh what a rainbow colored town!--You'd surely like to stop and look in through the window panes to see this fine Toy Shop.
For Nuremberg, as well you know, is noted for its Toys; they're sent the wide, wide world around to please the Girls and Boys.

Alas! they are all sent away to far-off foreign lands; the little ones of Nuremberg must play with empty hands.

Here are many lovely dolls with flowing curly locks, some clad in common calico, and some in silken frocks.
There're dolls of wood, and dolls of rags, and dolls that really walk, and dolls that jump, and dolls that sleep, and dolls that truly talk.

An elephant that nods his head; a rocking horse that rocks; a duck-on-wheels; a bird that sings; a pert jack-in-the-box.
These patent toys are wonderful! You turn a little key; a monkey walks, a rooster crows by strange machinery.

Once upon a time the shopman, Hans, old, and forgetful quite, wide open left the toy shop door and went home for the night.
Leaving the toys unguarded there, it presently grew dark, and then arose a murmuring up near the Noah's Ark.

"I'm sure I'm tired of staying here," exclaimed the Jumping Jack; "I'd like to jump and limber up this stiffness in my back. The other jacks are happier far who've gone to foreign shores, for they know something of the world and dwell in lovely stores."

"I'd like just once to see the moon, it is my fondest dream to gaze upon a real, true moon, not just a stray moonbeam."
Thus spoke the pretty waxen doll, and then she heaved a sigh; "we'll never see the moon from here," Was Noah's sad reply.

"I know I'm just a wooden duck, but I have wheels inside; if one of you would wind me up I could go far and wide
into the great big glorious world, and oh, the sights I'd see! Yes, sights both new and wonderful; won't someone please wind me?"

"Ah, here's the key and there's the lock right underneath your wing' of all the animals in the shop you are the queerest thing!"
"You know you really cannot walk, you always wabble so; but I suppose that is the way that all real live ducks go."

The rubber balls cried: "We can bounce," and bounced down to the floor; they bounced and bounced and bounced again, and bounced right out the door.
Good Mrs. Noah followed next, the animals two by two, the rocking horse, the lamb-on-wheels, the squad of soldiers too.

Out the door into the street, the gay procession went, with jostle, tumble, rush and bang--on sight-seeing intent.
The children, they were fast asleep--such chubby girls and boys! When down the silent moonlit street marched on the troops of toys.

From underneath the coverlets stirs many a little head; the children soon are wide awake and bounding out of bed.
One glimpse from windows open wide--the toys in moonlight glow; they flash and gleam with color bright as they pass on below.

Down many a winding flight of stairs, all stealthily and fleet, came echoing through the hallways dark the patter of little feet.
Never before was such a sight in quaint old Nurnberg town--each little one tripped blithely out in white nightcap and gown.

The toys marched on with never a glance at the children trooping out, they did not even seem to hear their joyous laugh and shout.
But ever forward on their march, through many a crooked street; the children followed after them in their soft-slippered feet;
On to the massive city wall, the gates stood open wide; the train marched on across the bridge that spanned the moat outside;
But still they followed up the toys farther and farther still, until they spied the yellow moon just resting on the hill.

Each mother to her child's room went to see if all was well; but every bed stood empty--what a shocking thing to tell!
They searched all corners of the house; they searched hallways too; they searched the narrow crooked streets; they searched the whole town through;
They searched outside the old town gates; Look! over the hill they saw the train just vanishing--a sight to make them ill.

Across the dale and up the hill, breathless, yet striding fast, they chased the truant little ones and caught them too, at last.

"Come back, and we will give you toys," desperate the Mothers cried: "We'll give you toys and toys and toys, until you're satisfied."
The children turned with never a word, and from the hill came down; they crossed the moat, filed through the gate, back into Nurnberg town.

They went contentedly to bed each with a woolly toy, a doll, a nodding elephant, an ark, or sailor boy.

But not a truant toy came back that started forth to roam; maybe you'll find some if you look, right here, in your own home!

Monday, May 11, 2009


I admit it, I'm a sucker for 1950's era kid's books that celebrate the perfect squeaky clean American lifestyle and the traditional divisions of labor between men and women. I love the aprons over starched dresses, the sheets blowing on the line, the four course dinners on china for special occasions.
Mom always baked the birthday cake herself and dad always knew exactly how to assemble a new bicycle.

The unfair demands and expectations of that lifestyle proved chafing in practice, but in the world of the children's book aesthetic, it's a sweet little escape into a place where nothing goes wrong.

I present to you The Happy Family (story by Nicole, pictures by Corinne Malvern, Simon and Schuster 1955):

"Father and Mother live in a pretty little house with their little boy Tony and their little girl Peggy. They have a pussy cat called Kiki and a dog called Skipper. They are a very happy family.

The happiest time of day is when Father comes home from work. Mother gives him a kiss. Tony and Peggy run and shout: "Daddy, Daddy! Hello, Daddy!"

Father hangs up his coat and goes to work in the garden. Tony helps with the lawn mower. Peggy picks radishes and cuts flowers for the table. They work hard and get very hungry. But soon Mother calls from the window: "Wash your hands, everybody! Dinner is ready!"

What a nice dinner! There is roast beef with baked potatoes, a big dish of peas from the garden, and lettuce and tomato salad. Most wonderful of all, there is an apple pie cooling on the window sill. Kiki likes the roast beef. She looks at it and says: "Meow! Meow! Please somebody, give me a taste of this roast beef."
Skipper too, looks at the roast beef with longing, and he lets out a big sigh. "I wish I had the bone, "he says. But Mother is smart and she knows just what Kiki and Skipper are thinking.
"All right!" she says. "Come here, you two."
She gives Skipper a bone and sets out a dish of gravy for Kiki.

Right after dinner, Mother says: "Let's do the dishes," and everybody goes into the kitchen.
It is lots of fun. First Mother fills the sink with hot water and soap powder. Then she rinses the glasses. They come out clean and sparkling.
Father says: "Let's help Mother. Tony and Peggy, will you please wipe the dishes? I will put them away."
In a few minutes, they have washed, rinsed, and wiped all the glases, the plates, the knives, the forks and spoons, and the pots and pans. Then Mother takes off her apron and they all go into the living room.

"Now Daddy, tell us some stories," say Tony and Peggy. Father opens a book and reads them the story of The Three Bears and the story of Little Red Riding Hood and about Tom Thumb and the Little Gingerbread Boy and Hansel and Gretel.
Suddenly Dad puts down the book and says "Eight o'clock!"
Mother puts her knitting down and says to the children: "Time to go to bed."
Before going to bed, Tony and Peggy have one more thing to do. They go to the bathroom and brush their teeth.
Then Mother tucks them in bed and gives each one a big kiss.

It is morning again and the milkman brings milk for the family. Clickety-click go the bottles in a wire basket. Skipper watches him but does not bark. He just wags his tail. The milkman is a friend of his and Skipper does not bark at his friends.
After everyone has had breakfast, Father is ready to go to work. Today he is picked up by a neighbor and sits beside the driver. "Good-bye!" says Mother to both of them. "Don't drive too fast, now!"
Tony and Peggy take their lunch boxes and they go out to meet the school bus.
All their little friends are at the corner, waiting for the bus too. They call out to Tony and Peggy: "Hurry! Hurry! The bus is almost here!"

Now Mother is all alone in the house. She is very busy because she likes to have everything clean and in order. She makes the beds and she cleans the rugs with the vacuum cleaner.
Then she puts the soiled clothes in the washing machine. Swish, swish, go the clothes. Soon they are clean and hung on the line to dry. Later she irons a suit for Tony and a white dress for Peggy.

When Tony and Peggy come home from school, they go with their mother to do the marketing. As they walk along, Mother thinks: "Now let's see, what do I have to buy today?"
Tony and Peggy follow her and carry the bags. They are careful not to drop anything in the street.

Today is a big day. It is Peggy's birthday and Mother has baked a beautiful cake.
She is very busy decorating the cake with candles and little flowers. Now with pink frosting she writes on the icing: PEGGY
What a beautiful cake! How good it looks! When, oh when, is the party going to begin?

At last the guests come and Peggy and Tony and all their friends sit around a table in the garden. Mother brings out the cake. All the candles are lighted and the children sing: "Happy Birthday, dear Peggy, Happy Birthday to you!"

Just as the party is going to end, Father comes with two big boxes. One box is for Peggy and one is for Tony. "What is it? What is it?" they cry.

They can hardly wait to open them. They hurry as fast as they can. Oh, what a wonderful surprise! Father has bought them two beautiful shiny bicycles.

The next day the whole family helps to pack a lunch. Then they jump on their bicycles and ride to the beach.
Tony and Peggy have a lot of fun ringing the bells of their new bicycles: "Ding-a-ling. Watch out, everybody!"
As soon as they arrive at the beach, Tony puts on his bathing suit and dives from the raft.
"Come on in, Peggy! The water is fine!"

While Tony and Peggy have their swim, Father and Mother unpack the lunch: hard-boiled eggs, all kinds of sandwiches, salad peaches, and ice-cream. A nice breeze is blowing from the sea and everyone has a big appetite.

It is late when they get back to their little house and everyone is tired. Soon, very soon, the whole family will be in bed and asleep. Good night.

I like this family...the normal dad from this era would come home, grab the paper and a cocktail and plop his fanny in the easy chair. But this dad immediately mows the yard. I can get behind that.
Plus, the book promotes car-pooling which is cool.
Dad actually shows up for the birthday party instead of indulging his work-a-holic nature, oh, and he helps in the kitchen after dinner.

Maybe they really were happy after all.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


I guess it's no wonder that many of the books I'm posting here are of the pop-up or moveable variety. It's difficult to find these old animated books without any problems.
I discontinued the pop-up section of my shop because even if the book was shelved in perfect condition, it wasn't long before it was transformed into a shabby book.

This book is by Thirma and Carlyle Leech and was published by Capitol Publishing Co. 1944. Each page features a farm animal and the corresponding sound that he makes. Every other picture is animated.

The style of illustration is unusual; it has a kind of airbrushed quality. There's a slight creepiness to the disembodied heads that's enhanced when you move the tabs....all the animals' eyes roll back in their heads, just showing blank whites. I spared you the sight.


"Our Taffy cat, you may believe
Is just for fun and play,
But, oh, she's very useful, too
For keeping mice away"


""Quack!" laughs Dolly as she swims
Up and down the creek.
She bathes and splashes all day long
And keeps her feathers sleek"


""Oink, oink, oink," grunts Porky Pig
"I'm fat and growing fatter.
Some day I may be bacon, but
It really does not matter.""


"Ned may not make much speed it's true
As he plods along at work,
But never will you find a chore
That Ned will try to shirk"


"And here's our friend, Matilda Cow
Who gives us milk each day-
Big pails so full, to keep us well,
And straight, and strong and gay"


"Laughter makes for happiness
And a laugh is good to see.
You've laughted will all your barnyard friends,
Now come and laugh with me."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Once Upon a Time; Old Time Fairy Tales

One of the first sets of children's books I had as a kid was the Book Trails set, published in maybe the 1930's? I can't remember where my mother picked it up; maybe a yard sale?
The books were bound in beautiful burgandy textured cloth and the covers were embossed with a knight riding up a winding path toward a castle (come to think of it, a whole lot like the cover illustration of this book).

Although the set was many many volumes, my preoccupation was with the first three or four titles; For Baby Feet, Through the Wildwood, and To Enchanted Lands; because they contained some of the most gorgeous illustrations of cherubs, fairies, spring gardens, ships at sea, night skies, mothers with their babies etc...
I was an illustration snob from the get-go (or too lazy to explore unillustrated text) and Book Trails set the bar pretty high.

So I mention all that because this Fairy Tale book is from the same era and has the same style of early twentieth century illustration. The illustrator for this book is listed as Margaret Evans Price, the editor is Katharine Lee Bates. It was published by Rand McNally in 1928.

I'll start with the endpapers. I love these. Bubbles and a silhouette witch; it's perfect.

The stories listed in this book are:
Jack and the Beanstalk, Briar Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty, Furball, Hop O' My Thumb, Furball, Drakestail, Jack the Giant Killer, Cinderella, Toads and Diamonds, King Hawksbeak, Little Red Riding Hood, The Dancing Shoes, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, or Tom Tit Tot, The Frog Prince, Tom Thumb, The Goose Girl.

A lot of the illustrations have been marred with pencil scribble, but I'll try to post some of the images in better shape.

From Jack and the Beanstalk (those embroidered britches are awesome):

From Briar Rose (that cradle probably cost more than my house), and check out the stained glass border around the window:

From Furball:

From Cinderella:

From Beauty and the Beast:

I adore the wonderful detail in each picture; the stitching, the embellishments, the flourishes. What lucky children to have had this book growing up.