Thursday, September 11, 2014

Beautiful Book(s): #13

The Baby's Opera and The Baby's Own Aesop, illustrated by Walter Crane; engraved and printed in colours by Edmund Evans. Frederick Warne, 1877 and Routledge, 1887.

I am mildly superstitious, so rather than give you one book for my #13, I am giving you two. OK, I am not superstitious at all; I am simply trying to squeeze more books onto the list. Walter Crane is, without dispute, one of the most influential children's book illustrators of any century. He was also quite prolific, thus my trouble in choosing a single title to represent him. A member of the arts and crafts movement and a socialist, he worked to make art part of everyone's domestic life.

I chose The Baby's Opera because of its significance in keeping the tradition of nursery songs alive, and because I know that some of you are musicians or have children who are budding musicians. I also think books of illustrated sheet music are particularly beautiful. I chose The Baby's Own Aesop because it showcases the humour and whimsy in his art, and because W. J. Linton's pithy, rhyming versions of the fables are irresistible.

As usual, I have included a few images here, but because these books are in the public domain, it is easy to find digital reproductions of them elsewhere. Project Gutenberg's versions are thorough and provide options for reading the books on eReader devices:

and the International Children's Digital Library versions are presented through a more book-like interface.

Either way, you win

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