Aleph-Bet Books has released Catalogue 108 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. This is a new selection of books that are mostly children's and illustrated books. Even those not so youth oriented, such as Frederick Remington's Frontier Sketches, will fill its reader's eyes with wonder. Mostly what we find here are old books for young people. Children, start your imaginations. Here we go.
We will begin with the book that created the legend of Curious George, for those curious to know. Item 389 is the first American edition (1942) of Cecily G. and the Monkeys. Cecily's “G” stands for giraffe, and she was a lonely long-neck. Her family and friends had all been carted off to zoos. In another place in Africa, a family of monkeys saw its homeland toppled by woodcutters. The nine monkeys, one of whom is George, seek a new land, but are stopped by a deep ravine. From the other side, lonely Cecily sees their plight, and uses her long body to create a bridge over which they can cross. They all become great friends and help each other out. And there the story ends. No man in a yellow hat. He does not arrive until the next book to take George away from his home and off to London. Priced at $2,000.
Here is the story of another animal driven from his jungle home, this time by hunters. However, this was a much larger creature. Babar, the French-speaking elephant, runs off to a big city, where he learns the sophisticated ways of humans. He is later found by a couple of cousins, who lead him back to the elephant kingdom. Due to his worldly ways, when their King dies, they appoint Babar their new ruler. Published in 1931, the book is entitled Histoire de Babar le petit elephant. It would start a series of popular Babar stories by its author, Jean de Brunhoff, and after he died, the series would be continued by his son, Laurent. Item 125. $2,850.
Is there anyone in America who does not recognize the dog on the cover of this catalogue? Unlikely. Item 410 is a pen and ink and water color drawing of Snoopy by his creator, Charles Schulz. The inscription notes it's “for HEK.” “HEK” was Harry Elliot Klein, a fishing columnist from New Orleans. Klein served with Schulz in the military and the two became good fishing buddies. $6,000.
It is not unusual to see advertisers promote their wares to children, but it is generally for products children might buy (or whine at Mom to buy). Back in the day, advertisers planned farther ahead, trying to build brand awareness and loyalty for products long before children were potential customers (or maybe they just hoped Mom would read the book to the kids and pick up on the none too subtle message). Item 303 is Wyandotte Soda and Bell Starch Rhymes; or Father Gander's Sequel to Mother Goose. It was written by “Two Goslings,” which was actually one Paul West (a children's book writer). The soda referred to here is not the sweet drink children today consume by the buckets, but baking soda. The book is filled with rhymes and very nice illustrations, but the message is always the virtues of one of Wyandotte's products. Circa 1898. $225.
Item 296 is a copy of Four Days Wonder, by A. A. Milne, published in 1933. Published after the “Pooh” books for which Milne is best known, this is a mystery, targeted to a somewhat older audience. This is a remarkable copy as it contains a ten-line inscription from Milne, in the form of a rhyme. He writes ironically about how little money he gets from sales of the book. Noting how little it costs to make, and how much it sells for, Milne writes, “...Out of which, God willing, / I may get as much as a whole shilling.” $1,600.