Picture Books from the Rare Books Collection

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
March 8 - May 13, 2010

Drawn from the extensive juvenile literature collection, part of the rare books holdings in Archives and Special Collections, this selection of picture books highlights collaborations between authors and illustrators. In some cases the text and art were conceived together, so that it becomes impossible to imagine one without the other, while in others the illustrations were created later—sometimes hundreds of years later. Either way, words and pictures joined together can make a book powerful, surprising, memorable.

This exhibit is inspired by and in support of The Making of a Picture Book: The Marriage of Text and Art, in the Williston Library Court, Mount Holyoke College, March 8-April 11, 2010.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

By Lewis Carroll, with ninety-two illustrations by John Tenniel (New York: Macmillan, 1923).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Arthur Rackham, with a proem by Austin Dobson ( London: W. Heinemann;  New York, Doubleday, Page & Co., [1907]).

Charles Dodgson’s Alice books (originally published in 1865 and 1871) are famously associated with their original illustrator, John Tenniel, although many artists (and annotators and film directors) have since put their marks on the work. Less than ten years after Dodgson’s death, an edition was published featuring painterly and fanciful illustrations by one of the most famous and ubiquitous illustrators of the late Victorian/Edwardian era, Arthur Rackham.

The Three Bears

(New York: McLoughlin Bros. Publishers, ca. 1800s).

This version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” calls its heroine “Silverlocks.” It was part of a series of pamphlet-like fairy tale editions for children called “Fairy Moonbeam’s Series,” published by McLoughlin Bros., a pioneer in color printing technology for children’s books in the second half of the nineteenth century. Although the author and illustrator are both uncredited, the cover illustration is signed “Cogger,” possibly the engraver Edward P. Cogger.

Owl Moon

By Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr (New York: Philomel Books, 1987).

Western Massachusetts writer Jane Yolen’s versatility has earned her comparisons to Aesop and Andersen. Although Owl Moon was inspired by the owling excursions of Yolen’s husband and daughter in the woods near her home, illustrator Schoenherr based his pictures on his own New Jersey farm. Honored as one of Yankee Magazine’s 100 Classic New England Children’s Books, Owl Moon won Schoenherr a Caldecott Medal.

Der Struwwelpeter, oder, Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder

Von Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann (Frankfurt am Main: Literarische Anstalt, von Rütten & Löning, [ca. 1900?]).

Originally published in 1844, Hoffmann’s book of parodic cautionary tales, featuring among others a boy whose thumbsucking invokes a scissor-wielding man who cuts off his thumbs, was one of the most influential picture books of the nineteenth century. Although absurd and satirical and meant as entertainment, the tales genuinely frightened some later readers. Many editions were published featuring drawings based on Hoffmann’s own.

A Book of Dragons

By Hosie and Leonard Baskin (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985).

Renowned American artist and sculptor Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) founded the Gehenna Press, which produced fine press editions, and taught at Smith College for many years. He and his son Hosie Baskin together created this strikingly illustrated compendium of dragons from literature and myth.

The Snow Queen and Other Stories

From Hans Andersen with illustrations by Edmund Dulac (New York and London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911).

The work of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), the Danish writer whose beloved fairy tales included not only retellings but also an array of original stories, has been illustrated by a variety of notable artists, including Arthur Rackham, Fred Marcellino, Barry Moser, and Maurice Sendak. The French illustrator Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) was one of the younger artists working during the so-called Golden Age of book illustration.

Many Moons

By James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1943, 1971).

Known for his sharply witty stories, fables, essays, and cartoons, many of which appeared in The New Yorker, James Thurber (1894-1961) also wrote several children’s books, of which the first was Many Moons. Illustrator Louis Slobodkin (1903-1975), who also wrote books of his own, was awarded the Caldecott Medal for Many Moons.

When We Were Very Young

By A. A. Milne, illustrated by E. H. Shepard (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1924).

The English writer A[lan]. A[lexander]. Milne (1882-1956) is best known as the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends, but he was also a playwright and deft children’s poet. When We Were Very Young was his first book for children (Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926). Ernest Shepard (1879-1976) was a staff cartoonist at the English humor magazine Punch for more than thirty years, beginning in 1921. In addition to both Pooh books and both of Milne’s verse collections for children, he illustrated works by Kenneth Grahame and others.

The Park Book

By Charlotte Zolotow, pictures by H. A. Rey (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944).

The prolific writer Charlotte Zolotow (b. 1915) has written more than 90 books for young readers, starting with The Park Book in 1944, which she conceived while working as assistant to the eminent children’s books editor Ursula Nordstrom. Another Harper author, H. A. Rey (1898-1977), with his wife, Margret, wrote the seven Curious George books, the first of which was published in 1941, with his illustrations. Rey is also known for his diagrams of the constellations.

Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories

By Isaac Bashevis Singer, pictures by Maurice Sendak, translated from the yoddish by the author and Elizabeth Shub (New York: Harper & Row, 1966).

Born in Poland, Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) wrote his novels, stories, and several books for children in Yiddish. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978. Maurice Sendak (b. 1928) is both an author and an illustrator who has created pictures for books written by others (e.g. the Little Bear books) as well as his own work (the modern classic Where the Wild Things Are and more). Among his numerous honors are the Caldecott Medal and the National Book Award.

Fly By Night

By Randall Jarrell, pictures by Maurice Sendak (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969, 1976).

Author and literary critic Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) published poetry, novels, children’s books, and essays, as well as some translations. Fly By Night, published posthumously, was the last collaboration between Jarrell and Sendak, who had illustrated several of Jarrell’s earlier books for young readers, including The Bat-Poet.

My Letter to the World and Other Poems

By Emily Dickinson, with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault (Toronto: KCP Poetry, 2008).

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a prolific American poet who published little during her lifetime but in the twentieth century acquired a reputation as a poet of extraordinary distinctiveness. She lived a quiet life in her family’s house in Amherst but spent one year as a student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Canadian artist Isabelle Arsenault lives in Montreal. My Letter to the World was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes.

La Fontaine Fables Choisies Pour les Enfants

Et illustrees par M. B. de Monvel (Paris: E. Plon-Nourrit & Cie., [1888].

French fabulist and poet Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) was inspired by Aesop, Boccaccio, and others. Political, moral, and satirical, his Fables have been published in many editions and illustrated by countless artists. Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1851-1913) was a celebrated French illustrator of children’s books whose other projects included a collaboration with Anatole France and the art work for an 1895 biography of Joan of Arc.