Wonderland Tales and Story-and-Picture Book. Published by Ideabooks 1973. Featuring artwork by Spanish illustrators Jesus, Alessandro and Adriano Blasco. According the blurb the brothers lived and worked together. You can see the slight differences in style through the panels, and I love the definite 70s aesthetic Alice has to her.
The book also features Gulliver’s Travels and The Golden Box as well as a couple of short stories, Shouting Stones and The Brave Young Shepherd
So who remembers the Little Grey Rabbit series? They were written by Alison Uttley and illustrated by Margaret Tempest and are about a little grey rabbit (of course) and a cast of assorted animals including Wise Owl, Moldy Warp (a mole) and Fuzzypeg (a young hedgehog).
I haven’t got any of the books, although I know we had some as children and got them out of the library, but this week I found a Pepys game (strap line: Better than a picture book Grey Rabbit’s own game – for you) for 99p. The aim of the game is to collect counters and whoever ends with the most is the winner. Now I shall have to find someone to play it with!
Today I have a delightful Japanese story, The Heavenly Weaver, by Sachio Mitsukoshi, translated by Ann Herring and art direction by Kozo Shimizu. It was first published by Gakken (Japan) and published by Blackie and Son in the UK (both in 1975).
From what I can gather Gakken put out a series of these picture books in the 1970s – I have found pictures from The Grateful Crane, which look like the same setting, but with a different, but still dimensional, artwork style.
I’m not sure what the media is, perhaps clay or maybe salt dough. The clouds look like cotton wool and the season tapestry is painted cloth. The characters are dressed in ancient Japanese style.
The Heavenly Weaver is a traditional Japanese story. Princess Tanabata, the Sky-king’s daughter, sat at her loom every day and wove the seasons we have on earth. One day the Sky-king arranged for her to marry the Celestial Cowherd – whom she was very much in love with.
The Princess and the Cowherd were so happy as they wandered among the stars and clouds that they forgot to weave the tapestry and tend the cows.
So all the living creatures stopped moving, and the trees and plants faded and died.
The Sky-king couldn’t allow this to happen, so he separated the Weaver and the Cowherd by putting them on either side of the Milky Way and turned the Milky Way into a celestial river. But when he saw how sad the couple were, he allowed them to meet once a year if they were good. They meet on Midsummer Eve, and they say that if it rains that night the couple haven’t been allowed to meet and the rain is their tears. But when they meet, the birds form a bridge of wings across the Milky Way.
1976, a Whitman Book, published by Western Publishing Company, Inc and licensed from Disney.
I loved paper dolls when I was little. I dutifully cut out the doll on my Bunty comic (bought every week while my younger sister had Twinkle) and I had a collection of historical paper dolls too. I’ve been into historic costume since I was tiny and paper dolls were my first costume reference books. Regular readers of this blog will also know that I collect illustrated editions of Alice in Wonderland. So when I came across this on Ebay I had to pick it up. This came from the US and I’m not sure that it was available in the UK. It is in perfect un-cut condition, so I have scanned it so that I can play about with printouts.
Here are the dolls on the back cover. They are press-out pieces on lightweight card. I love Alice’s all-in-one underwear.
Some of Alice’s clothes. There is a mix of looks from the Disney animation and contemporary 1970s clothes. She even has a pink-striped catsuit a la the Cheshire Cat.
Clothes for Alice
There are also a selection of clothes for the Hatter and White Rabbit.
This time it’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with David Hall’s previously unpublished illustrations for Walt Disney Productions. First published by Methuen in 1986 and with an afterword by Brian Sibley. I picked this up in a YMCA charity shop for £1.50. Sadly it has slight water damage, but I’ve been able to separate all the pages and there is no staining.
In 1939 David Hall was commissioned to create concept artwork for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. The project was shelved at that time (because of the War) and didn’t go into production until 1948. Apparently these illustrations didn’t see the light of day again until this book was published. Hall’s illustrations are fascinating – you can see the slight beginnings of the final Disney film in some places and echoes of early Mickey Mouse in some of the characters (see the mouse below). But many of the illustrations are quite menacing and nightmarish. The court scene is particularly gruesome with its guillotine and vertiginous POV. Brian Sibley’s afterword is very interesting and covers the history of Alice on film up to and including the final Disney version.
Drink me. The bottle is an animated character. In the final film the door knob was animated.
Another book illustrated by the wonderful Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. This is a French fairy story by Madame la Comtesse d’Aulnoy written in 1682. Published by Dean 1972. This isn’t a story that appears in fairytale collections very often, let alone in a book to itself. It’s a classic enchanted-creature, dividing the kingdom tale, but in this story the enchanted creature is the princess and the prince is on the journey.
Three princes are sent on a quest to find the prettiest, tiniest dog for their father. The youngest prince gets lost in the forest and finds his way to a mysterious castle where the servants are strange disembodied hands. It turns out that the castle is the home of the Queen of Cats.
The prince meets the Queen of Cats
The Queen of Cats takes quite a fancy to the prince and he stays with her until it is time to return to his father. The Queen gives him a dog that fits inside a cob nut. Of course the King was a bit put out by this and sent his sons on another quest and so on and so on.
While the youngest prince is living with the Queen of Cats she treats him to entertainments, parties and feasts. She even has her own theatre – isn’t this great!
I won’t tell you the end of the story – but suffice to to say they lived happily ever after…
Watching the fireworks
The illustration is sumptuous and the costumes are authentic late-1600s. Costume was one of the Johnstone sisters’ great strengths and interests – especially Anne (I believe Janet focussed on animals).
A little while ago I found a version of Peter Pan and Wendy illustrated by Anne Grahame Johnstone and first published in 1988 by Award Publications Ltd. I am sort of collecting Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone books – picking them up whenever I see them. I particularly like their attention to period details (especially in the costumes). Many of their fairy story illustrations are beautiful – with their 17th and 18th Century style costumes.
But here’s Anne’s version of Peter Pan and Wendy (in equally lovely Edwardian and fantasy costume).
Peter Pan and Wendy, John and Michael fly to Neverland.
Flying to Neverland
Here’s Captain Hook.Isn’t he fabulous!
Tinker Bell – very different to the Disney version.
I haven’t posted for a while, so here’s two books. They are both Treasury books, by Hilda Boswell, published by Collins. On the left we have Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Fairy Tales, published in 1962, and on the right, Hilda Boswell’s Treasury of Poetry, first published in 1968, but this is the revised 1978 edition.
I was given the Treasury of Poetry as a Christmas present in the early 1970s. I adored it – I read it over and over again. So much so that when I finally got around to replacing it a few weeks ago, I could remember pretty much every word and illustration. Here’s a small selection:
Clouds and rainbows
I love the lighting around the children on the left.
Mermaids and fairies
Many of Hilda’s illustrations feature little fairy/insect/flower hybrid creatures.
First page of The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies
The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies is a traditional British folk song. There are several versions on Youtube including one by The Waterboys and a long entry about its history on Wikipedia.
Yesterday I came across The Treasury of Fairy Tales. I don’t remember having this book. It’s earlier, and you can see that her style is changing a bit and/or she’s using different media.
Illustration from The Wild Swans
I can’t find much about Hilda Boswell other than a short Wikipedia entry: She was born in London in 1903 and died in 1976. She is also mentioned in the Wikipedia entry about Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone. I’ve blogged about them before – and while their styles are different, they were working at more or less the same time and in the same genre. She is most known for illustrating Enid Blyton’s ‘Flower’ books in the 1940s and 1950s.
Addition: A request for the poem ‘Summer Morning’ by Rose Fyleman. Seems apt as it is a very hot summer morning!