steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Abecedariana

So, in 1962 Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library was published by Harper and Row - four tiny hardback books in a slipcase, including the ABC Alligators All Around (here rendered delightfully by Carole King), as well as One Was Johnny and Chicken Soup with Rice, which introduced young readers to numbers and months respectively, and the cautionary tale of Pierre, who didn't care (at least, to begin with).

The following year, Edward Gorey's Vinegar Works ("Three Volumes of Moral Instruction") was published by Simon and Schuster. This too came in a slipcase, and included, along with the textless The West Wing and The Insect God, an ABC, The Gashlycrumb Tinies (here animated by Marcus Kihn).

Two classic ABCs - and if the children of the early sixties (of whom I) didn't know their alphabet after that, they had no excuse. It's a bit of a coincidence, though, isn't it? These multi-volume slipcased collections of original work appearing in such quick succession, from rival NY publishers? Could The Gashlycrumb Tinies be in any sense a response to the upstart crow Sendak, for people who found alligators in propeller beanies just a tad saccharine? I'd love to know if there's a story behind these stories...
Tags: books
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