Children's Books from Aleph-Bet Books

Children's Books from Aleph-Bet Books

By Michael Stillman

Aleph-Bet Books has issued their Catalogue 94 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. It is filled with books from your childhood, that of your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. These books range from delightful to horrible (racial stereotypes and the like were grotesque then), but all are fascinating. These are a few looks back in time.

Here is a book about a kangaroo illustrated by an artist better known for his monkey business. The title is Katy No-Pocket, by Emmy Payne, illustrated H.A. Rey. It is a tale about a poor kangaroo who lacked a pouch. Rey, the illustrator for this 1944 first edition, is most known for the inquisitive monkey he created, Curious George. A pouchless kangaroo would undoubtedly have made him wonder. Item 487. Priced at $850.

Item 40 is an alphabet book as well as a piece of railroad memorabilia. It is the Wabash Alphabet Primer, published in 1879 by the Wabash Railway. Always looking for new customers, the Wabash uses the letter "E" to encourage western settlement via the railroad: "E is for Emigrant, bound for the West / Where the destitute poor may find comfort and rest; / To the land of the prairie and cottonwood trees / the Wabash transports them with safety and ease." $475.

Item 101 transports us back to a simpler time, the "good old days," so to speak. It's called The Cotton Tots, who were a bunch of happy, black (naturally) cotton pickers, singing and playing in the fields as they picked cotton back in 1926. The "cotton tot" title is a play on "Hottentot," a name Europeans gave to a particular African tribe but that came to be commonly used for any African or black people, often in a derisive manner. What could be more fun than picking cotton in the hot summer southern sun? $450.

Item 261 is a story about a young boy's dream adventures by Ralph Bergengred, published in 1922. The title is David the Dreamer. It includes innovative illustrations from Tom Seidmann Freud. "Tom" was actually a woman, born Martha Gertrude. The use of the name "Tom" must have caused some interesting psychoanalysis by her uncle, Sigmund Freud. $900.