A few weeks ago I was browsing the children’s shelves in the wonderful Eric T Moore Books in Hitchin when I noticed this fairly unremarkable looking book. As I hadn’t yet come across anything I wanted to buy I picked it up anyway, expecting a generic collection of fairy tales. But what wonders were within! It is a treasury indeed.
Turns out this is a 1981 WHSmith exclusive printing of a book originally published in the 1960s by Western Publishing Inc. The treasury is edited and selected by Bryna and Louis Untermeyer (and some of the stories are retold by Louis Untermeyer). It is 544 pages long and contains selections from The Just So Stories, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, The Sword in the Stone, the Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz and countless others. And best of all, every story is illustrated – sometimes by illustrators I’m familiar with – EH Shepard, John Tenniel, Charley Harper, Alice and Martin Provensen and some new-to-me illustrators such as Gordon Laite.
Wonderful colours in Robert J Lee’s Hobbit illustrations – I love the flowers on Gandalf’s robe. He also illustrates Poo-Poo Finds a Dragon.
Charley Harper’s stunning Bambi illustrations.
This gorgeous owl in his green sunglasses. (I didn’t know this story or illustrator.)
This was the first time I’d come across Gordon Laite. His fairy story illustrations are fantastic.
Adrienne Ségur has one illustration in Sleeping Beauty. Her work is beautiful and I am hoping to get a copy of her Alice one day.
The wonderful Richard Scarry illustrates Drakestail.
A Japanese take on Bluebeard.
Ray Bradbury’s short story about learning not to be afraid of the dark.
I didn’t know these stories either. I love Jean Winslow’s pen (or pencil) and watercolour (I think) illustrations.
And finally Aesop’s Fables retold by Louis Untermeyer and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. A grin to rival the Cheshire Cat’s!
There are so so many wonderful stories and illustrators in this book this is just scratching the surface. And the moral of this story is don’t judge a book by its cover!
[…] This is from the Children’s Treasury of Literature in Colour that I wrote about here […]
I remember this book vividly. My great grandmother got if for me around that time, 1981, when I was about 8. (I’m from New Zealand, so it obviously sold there too.) Thanks for sharing, I’ve been trying to track it down (my copy vanished, it may have been given away by my parents). And finally here it is…yay!
I remember Switch on the Night (but had no idea it was by Ray Bradbury!).
I remember part way through – for some reason – the text changes size and suddenly gets bigger (and is no longer in two columns) and then changes back. I wondered why this was, and saw that several other books did the same thing. Probably following some theory or other.
The pictures were fantastic, in fact I would flip through looking at them over annd over. And though I loved this book I regretted the fact I never got round to reading everything in it… too many other exciting things going on in those days…
My sister and I had the 1960s edition when we were children, so it was available in Sri Lanka in the late 1960s.
It was a wonderful book, giving us introductions to so many great authors.
My favourite story was Raoul the Owl.
I’ve just had a look. I like the illustrations of Raoul, particularly him in his sunglasses!
My dad got me this book in 1980 when I was 6 years old. It was a 1971 edition. I had it until 1996 or so when my dog tore it apart in anger. I remember most of the stories and even narrate them to my daughter from memory even now. Ting-a-Ling and the Five Magicians was in fact one of my favorites. Especially the portions where the storyteller describes the banquet of the evil dwarf – the edible gifts of fruit and desserts the magicians brought were so tantalizingly described. I wish I had this book now so that I can get my daughter to lose herself in it just like how I went into a dream world back then. Is this book still in publication?
It is a lovely book. I don’t think it is still in publication. Various second-hand copies turn up on eBay and Amazon quite often though. There are several on eBay at the moment.