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Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Dear power nappers,

On Saturday, David and I headed to the vertical Long Island—that is, New Jersey—to meet my new nephew Sammy, a beautiful little boy who has the eyes of his father (my brother), the ears of his mother, and the sleep patterns of a lazy-scholar-to-be: he spent the majority of our visit napping, waking up only to say hello and to eat.

Detail from Baby's Rhyme BookSo in honor of Sammy, I bring you today the marvelous Baldwin Library of Children’s Literature, courtesy of the University of Florida. The digital archive includes over 5000 books from the early 1700s to the present, including Baby’s Rhyme Book, from 1886, which starts out with the rousing tale “Kit-ty’s Day”: “9 A.M. Hungry, and tired of waiting for those people who will not come down; so I am obliged to help myself. Cream not so thick as it ought to be, but I do not complain.” Though if any book deserves a reissue, it’s the handsomely illustrated Jolly Animal ABC (1888), which features a fiddling pig and a truly relaxed hare.

pighare

Far less kid-friendly today is the 1876 book Simple Addition by a Little Nigger, published in New York, which follows an ever-increasing number of black children as they get into trouble.

Simple Addition

For Sammy’s sake, when choosing children’s books for bedtime, I’ll stick to clever fauna, like this finely-dressed specimen from Palmer Cox’s Funny Animals.

Fox

Sleep well little ones!

Sartorially yours,

Stephen

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To my fellow worshippers of Hypnos,

Bruce Handy’s recent New York Times essay on why he disliked Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are as a kid—but not as an adult—has got me thinking a little about what boys read and why. Consider, for instance, Stanford’s wonderful collection of turn-of-the century dime novels and story papers. You can view literally hundreds of covers, with bold, exciting illustrations like this one (left) from Young Rough Riders Weekly. Way to ride through that Native American encampment! Or what about Frank Leslie’s Boys of America (right). Get him with your tusk, Dumbo!

Rough Riders WeeklyBoys of America

You can also mull over the gender dynamics of such stories like “The Queen of the Bullfighters” and “A Girl Crusoe” (pictured below).

girl crusoe

And check out the full text of the series Secret Service, about a pair of detectives who make frequent forays into Chinatown. In the story pictured below, the Brady bunch break up an opium ring—think of it as an early 20th century version of The Wire, you know for kids.

Hop

Boyishly yours,

Stephen

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