November 10 is Young Readers Day, an opportunity to read a book to a child, to give a book to a child, and maybe to remember the books you loved as a child. A lot of collectors are drawn to the books they experienced as young readers. There’s a certain kind of magic those books hold throughout readers’ lifetimes. One of my own prized possessions is an early copy of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hatches the Egg, a book I couldn’t get enough of as a child. My mom read it to me, and then I accomplished the feat of reading it on my own. As a parent, I read it to my own kids, and now they read it to theirs. A nice handed-down tradition.
In honor of Young Readers Day, we present a variety of special kids’ treasures our stores have acquired recently.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (inscribed)
Farrar Straus Giroux, 1978, Thirty-seventh Printing
A Very Good+ book in a VG+ dust jacket that has very minor rubbing at top and bottom of spine. Inscribed by the author on front-free endpaper: “For Nancy—tesser with joy—Madeleine L’Engle.” $400.
There’s a wonderful Madeleine L’Engle quote that applies to A Wrinkle in Time and its follow-ups: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 tale of the tesseract is truly one of the most-read, most-cherished young adult classics. It won the Newbery Prize and other awards, and has remained in print continuously since it was published. Four novels featuring the Murry family followed.
Readers and collectors love having a nice hardback edition of A Wrinkle in Time close-by. Even better is having a nice hardback copy in which the author has written the verb tesser.
Rinkitink in Oz by L. Frank Baum
Reilly & Lee, 1916
Later printing without color plates. Many black & white illustrations, and a colorful cover pastedown, by John R. Neill. Binding is tight, and there is very little foxing to pages. Wear and rubbing to spine. $50.
The 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz has been a perennial kids’-viewing favorite since its release. Each year, my friends and I waited for its annual broadcast on network television. The advent of videotapes, DVDs, cable, and streaming diminished the allure a little bit, but the movie itself is timeless. The Wiz updated the story in the seventies, and my oldest daughter still counts those two versions of Dorothy’s tale as her two favorite movies.
Of course, the Oz books came first, and editions of L. Frank Baum’s series are collected the world over. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, was the first of numerous Oz books, the most popular kids’ book series of its time.
Also available are two volumes written by Ruth Plumly Thompson (“Founded on and continuing The Famous Oz Stories by L. Frank Baum”). Pirates in Oz, Reilly & Lee, 1931 ($45), has twelve color illustrations, including frontispiece, by John R. Neill. Its interior is tight and bright. The cover is rough, with discoloration and tears to spine, dampstaining to the bottom third of the back cover, and some rubbing and scuffing to the front color pastedown. Speedy in Oz, Reilly & Lee, 1934 ($50), contains many black and white illustrations, including endpapers, by John R. Neill. The cover pastedown is bright, but with staining to the bottom left corner (and a similar stain on back cover). The spine is browned, but the interior is crisp.
Tony Sarg’s Treasure Book
B. F. Jay, 1942. First Edition.
In original box, with movable parts and other extras, and numerous full-color Tony Sarg illustrations throughout. In Very Good condition, with minor flaws. $125.
Three classics get some special treatment in this activity book: Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and Rip Van Winkle. Sure, kids nowadays can do all sorts of added-feature activities while reading an e-book, but here’s a multi-component book from over 70 years ago that way back then gave its young readers some story-enhancing fun to draw them in. In the Alice and Wonderland section, the Mad Hatter tips his hat and Alice’s neck grows. A bag of riches hides behind sea waves in Treasure Island. Find a hidden American flag in Rip Van Winkle.
The Treasure Book is nicely preserved, but it isn’t perfect: there’s a 1 ½ inch closed tear on the front cover, a small circular scuff on the back cover, a small hole in the delicate front screen, and a missing movable face in Rip Van Winkle. There is also some discoloration on the spine and some general minor scuffing on the cover.
The Wishing Tree, by William Faulkner
Random House, 1964 (but actually published in 1967). No statement of printing, but probably a 2nd printing.
In Very Good+ condition. $200.
Yes, this is a children’s book by the creator of the complicated and conflicted characters of Yoknapatawpha County. Faulkner wrote The Wishing Tree forty years before it was published, and presented it as a gift to the daughter of a woman he was wooing and later married. Its many black and white illustrations by Don Bolognese have an air of mystery about them.
This is a beautiful copy of this scarce book, with a price-clipped dust jacket that has a few very tiny chips and closed tears at its edges.
“Too difficult for grown-ups”—A Wrinkle in Time almost didn’t see the light of day: It was rejected by twenty-six publishers—for being too different, for being too difficult, for having a female sci-fi protagonist—before Farrar Straus and Giroux took a chance on it.
Fashionable Dorothy—W.W. Denslow illustrated the first Oz book, but then he and Baum had some disagreements. John R. Neill took over, drawing Dorothy older, slimmer, and in more modern attire.
Pulling Strings—Tony Sarg was known as the Father of Modern Puppetry in America, and, starting in 1928, designed balloons for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Interested in finding out more about any of these treasures? Contact the Buy Guy: firstname.lastname@example.org