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Best in Children's Books

Best in Children's Books

Best in Children's Books. Volume 2. No overall editor acknowledged. Editor listed for "Aesop's Fables" here is Mary MacNab. The Aesop versions and illustrations are taken from Aesop's Fables (1954), selected and edited by Laura Harris (not acknowledged here) and illustrated by Tony Palazzo. Dust jacket. 1957. Garden City: Doubleday. $12.50 from Greg Williams, June, '95. Extra copies (1) without a dust jackets for $1.50 from Harold's, St. Paul, Jan., '97; (2) with a dust jacket for $1 from The Book Den, San Antonio, August, '96; and (3) without a dust jacket for $.25 from Roskie and Wallace, San Leandro, June, '89.

The book starts off with twenty-three fables (1-36). Perhaps the most interesting thing about this book is the way it deals with Palazzo's pastels. Several are nicely reproduced, e.g. FG and TMCM. Others are reduced to black-and-white and then colored over with one color. This one color varies—as does the color on the end-papers—from pink in the good copy and in (1) to green in (2) and (3). Those with green have green spines, and those with pink have yellow spines. I had looked at this series for five years and had never found a section given over simply to Aesop. The spine is damaged in (3). Because of their different colors, I will keep the two dust-jacketed copies in the collection.

Best in Children's Books. Volume 11. Dust jacket. 1958. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday. $2.50 at Claudette's, Brookdale Lodge, Aug., '89. Extra copy for $.95, Summer, '89.

Contains AL (77-84) with text adapted from James Baldwin and illustrations by Don Freeman. A lively narrative, with lively but simple colored illustrations. After it all, Androcles and the lion live together for many years in Rome.

Best in Children's Books. Volume 13. Dust jacket. 1958. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday. $1 in Oshkosh, June, '88.

Contains "Miss Ant, Miss Grasshopper, and Mr. Cricket -- with a special bow to Mr. Aesop" by Rachel Field with illustrations by Paul Galdone (141-55). This dramatic fable is subtitled "A Play You Can Give at Home." The text ix from Patchwork Plays (1930). A delightful rendition: Mr. Cricket saves the starving Miss Grasshopper from the unhappy Miss Ant. Nice Galdone two-color illustrations.

Best in Children's Books. Volume 18a. 1959. Dust jacket. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday. $1 in Oshkosh, June, '88.

I have known and looked at this series for a long time. At last I find one with "Five Favorite Fables" (77). The multi-colored pastel illustrations by Feodor Rojankovsky, not identical with his in The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, 1944, are well done. MM, SW, OR, "The Boy and the Filberts," and BW. The last item in this book is "Let's Visit the Belgian Congo" (156). This copy has poorer coloring in its illustrations than does the parallel copy of Volume 18 that I have labelled "b."

Best in Children's Books. Volume 18b. 1959. Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday. $2 at Renaissance, March, '88.

See my comments on Volume 18a. This copy has no dust jacket and has stronger coloring in its illustrations. Its last story is "Let's Go to Israel" (156). I presume that this is a later printing of the same book, perhaps after the Belgian Congo became independent and changed its name to "Congo" on June 30, 1960. (This name was changed to "Zaire" in 1971.) One strong clue is that Volumes 7 through 22 use the formula "Let's Visit" in the titles of their last pieces. Starting with Volume 27, a standard title formula is "Let's Go to." So I place the edition offering "Let's Go to Israel" as printed at the same time as these later editions and see it as a revised version of a putatively earlier edition featuring "Let's Visit the Belgian Congo." Dee Jones' Index of the series (University of Southern Mississipipi, 1997) knows only this (later) version featuring Israel rather than the Belgian Congo. From what I can gather from this careful index, the series never got back to Congo or Zaire. Not everything was fixed to accommodate the change: If we are not visiting the Congo, what is the black man with a bow doing on the spine? I cannot find any other story in the volume that has the least reference to a black warrior!


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