Six Hundred (almost) Children's Books from Aleph-Bet


Six Hundred (almost) Children's Books from Aleph-Bet

By Michael Stillman

Here come some of the great literary classics, like The Podgy Puppy and Old Dame Trot and Her Pig. Okay, this is not a typical catalogue of great literature. What we have is a collection of children's books, and this is one of the best we have seen. Aleph-Bet Books of Pound Ridge, New York, offers a catalogue of Children's Books and Illustrated Books, containing almost 600 items which will bring you back to your childhood (or perhaps your grandparents' childhood as some of these are quite old).

There is something magical about a children's book catalogue. As you read through the pages, you will be surprised by how many of these books you remember. Some are well known, but there are others that you probably haven't thought about in a long time. The memories will return. Each book in the catalogue includes an illustration, and I was surprised how often I recognized the cover as well as the title, though I had not seen some of these books in a very long time. It is easy to understand why adults collect children's books after the trip down memory lane inspired by this catalogue. We highly recommend it for the child in you. Here are a few samples.

Young Peter sure knew how to get in trouble, despite his mother's best advice. He undoubtedly would have been described as a "wascally wabbit" by Mr. McGregor had the latter shared Elmer Fudd's speech impediment. Of course Peter's disrespect for the McGregors' private property is a bit more understandable when you recall that the McGregors murdered his father and then baked him in a pie. No wonder he held a grudge. Item 452 is one of the all-time children's classics, a first trade edition of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, from 1902. This copy is evidently the first printing of the first edition. Priced at $16,500.

Here is a book from one of the greatest of children's book writers: Curiosa Mathematica Part I A New Theory of Parallels. What, this doesn't sound like much of a kids' book? Isn't Charles Lutwidge Dodgson one of your favorite children's writers? Well, for the uninitiated, mild-mannered math professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is better remembered by his penname, Lewis Carroll. Under that name, he wrote his famous stories about Alice and her visit to Wonderland. However, he also wrote a few mathematical texts, and this is one of them. This copy is inscribed by Dodgson to his sister, Henrietta Dodgson. However, as he did when signing Carroll's works, he signs his name as "the author" (though he identifies the author as "her affectionate brother." Item 116. $12,500.

Here is a children's book that makes Curiosa Mathematica exciting: Fun with Dick and Jane. There was never any fun with Dick and Jane. These vacuous, tiresome pre-teens taught a generation to hate reading with their excruciatingly boring stories. "Run, Spot, Run." Really makes you want to read more. Item 190 is a special version of this book, a Teacher's Edition from 1940. What on earth was so complicated in a Dick and Jane book that it had to be spelled out for teachers? Were Dick and Jane too sophisticated for my teachers to understand without a guide? No wonder I turned out so dumb. This book will bring back other fond memories from your youth, like getting your teeth drilled without novocain. Item 190. $300.