Friday, August 29, 2008

The Last of the Wizards

The Last of the Wizards
Rona Jaffe ~ illustrations by Erik Blegvad
Simon & Schuster, 1961

A gift to my unborn son from his godparents, The Last of the Wizards finally answers the question... If someone granted you three wishes, why would you not wish for more wishes?I've only recently started reading my son this tale of a wizard, a boy, a trip to the moon and dozens of wishes, and am not sure why I waiting so long. It is in one word ~ marvelous.A long, long time ago, when children's nurses remembered stories of dragons, and brave princes rode about the forest on their horses looking for beautiful princesses who were locked up in enchanted castles, everybody knew about wizards. But that was a long, long time ago, before anybody who is now living was even born, even the oldest, oldest person you know.Penned by the famous novelist and illustrated by the king of my favorite genre in children's book illustration (that is, guys who draw things small... not to be mistaken with people who draw small things), it has since been (why, why, why?) reprinted with a different illustrator. Not knocking the new illustrator, it's just when the original is so great, why mess with it?I imagine at the time it was published it was a rather modern tale. Wizards are practically extinct and princesses go to "school to learn how to read and play tennis and be a queen." Now, the story is dated enough that it still takes us back to another time when it seemed enchanting things really did occur right in our own bedrooms.

I don't want to spoil the fun by giving away too much, but if you are a parent to a child and you hope to instill in them a sense of wonder and magical things, do yourself a favor and find out how the story ends. It is delightfully unresolved and might spark a mountain of imagination for those of us who still believe.

Also by:
Mud Pies and Other Recipes
A Year is a Window
The Diamond in the Window
Plenty of Fish


Read along on Facebook, Twitter and Etsy!


Anonymous said...

Burgin, I can't tell you how many books I've ordered because of your blog! I don't find them for 25 cents or a dollar, but I love them even at ABE prices. Blegvad is my favorite illustrator--I adored his work as a child and still do. I've met him--he's white-haired and Viking-handsome. Elegant and continental. I would love to go "vintage-binging" with you!

Candice Ransom

Burgin Streetman said...

that's the rub... you can't vintage book shop with a particular title in mind. you just have to be open to embrace what fate sets in front of you...

abe is good for the I HAVE TO HAVE THIS RIGHT NOW OR I AM GONNA DIE moments.

Rochelle R. said...

I remember Eric Blegvad from the illustrations he did for the little calendar that was included in Woman's Day Magazine for many years. I saved some of the illustrations because I loved them so much.

Burgin Streetman said...

i'd love to see scans of those... hint hint, wink wink.

essbesee said...

This looks great. Have you read The Haunted Spy? I did a post menitoning it early last month.

I think it's out of print.

love your blog(s)!

essbesee said...

and I actually mentioned, not meni-toned it. I am the typo queen.

sf said...

Hmm. I have a cool Erik Blegvad biography - will have to dig it out!

uriyo said...

Wow. This is a book I read thirty years ago and couldn't remember the title of! Thanks so much for posting this.

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