More Children's Books from Aleph-Bet Books
By Michael Stillman
Aleph-Bet Books welcomes the new year with a wonderful new collection of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. Offered in Catalogue 87 are almost 600 new items that will bring you back to the days when you were very young. It is impossible to read this catalogue without traveling back to a time we all would like to relive, but cannot. Fortunately, Aleph-Bet presents us with the opportunity to reminisce. Each of the descriptions comes with a color image of the book or artwork, and many will still be familiar from memories of long ago. Here are a few of these old books for the young.
We start with a physics text, and you might wonder what such a work is doing in a collection of children's books. Item 507 is Atomics for the Millions, by Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff and Hyman Ruchlis. This was a most timely subject matter when the book was published in 1947, shortly after the first atomic bomb was dropped. Still, what is it doing here? The answer is that it was illustrated by one of the greatest children's book writers and illustrators of the century, Maurice Sendak. This was the first book in which he appeared as either illustrator or writer. Sendak was still in high school when his physics teacher, Ruchlis, asked him to provide drawings for a book designed to make atomics understandable to ordinary people. Priced at $700.
This takes us to the early days of another giant of children's books -- Dr. Seuss. Item 521 is a circa 1930s jigsaw puzzle, 150 pieces which when put together reveal a car and its riders escaping various Seussian monsters. Characters such as "Moto-munchus" and "Karbo-nockus" unsuccessfully attack the poor vehicle. The caption notes, "Foiled By Essolube." Dr. Seuss would go on to become one of the most successful children's writers ever, while Esso became Exxon and went on to become the most profitable corporation in the history of the world. And to think it all happened on Wall Street. $750.
Quickly, what was the name of the mystical land Alice visited? Item 153 provides the answer: Alice in Baking Powder Land. This 1924 publication by the Davis Baking Powder Co. recounts Alice's tour of a baking powder factory, where she watches the magic powder being produced, start to finish. It includes photographs that can only be viewed through the colored glasses attached to the cover. This Alice story proved to be less successful than the earlier one, for obvious reasons, its tin can no match for a tin man. $200.
Item 185 is the true first edition of Pinocchio. Prior to the book being published, Carlo Collodi's story appeared as a serial in the Italian children's magazine Giornale per i Bambini (journal for children), under the title La Storia di un Burattino (the story of a puppet). The Giornale was Italy's first children's magazine, and Collodi began his story of the puppet with the first issue. The story appears sporadically in installments over the next two years, with the name changed to Le Avventure di Pinocchio in the second year. Offered are 26 issues of the magazine, from the first issue of July 7, 1881, to the final installment of the story in 1883. After that, the story was published in book form. $32,500.