Friday, April 17, 2009

Deegie and The Fairy Princess

Still in NYC, so again, welcome my friend gef over at Lost In Texas and The Kindergarten Diaries with one more choice and obscure find...Deegie and the Fairy Princess
Ruth W. Rempel ~ Illustrated by Dietrich G. Rempel and James A. Wiley ~ 1949 Rempel Manufacturing Incorporated


This is the disconcerting story of a little boy who lives in a castle all by himself. Well, not completely by himself — he has a bunch of barnyard pals, including Perky the Pup, Cuddly the Cat, Yippy the Chick, Squawky the Duck, Hoppy the Rabbit, Chubby the Pig, Fleecy the Lamb, Milky the Cow, Frisky the Horse, and my personal favorite, Balky the Mule. They spend a lot of time “scampering” together. Despite his lack of a human family or friends, Deegie appears to lead a life of bliss, until one day, a mean old buzzkilling North Wind comes along, and…

He blew so hard it seemed his cheeks must burst. And burst they did just as he reached the beautiful castle and blew it all to pieces. Poor little Deegie! He rubbed his eyes and looked again. He just could not believe his castle and all his loved ones were gone.

Deegie is understandably devastated, but as he weeps, a fairy princess arrives on a fluffy pink cloud and sings him a song that summons him “to a wonderful land far over the sea where everyone is happy and gay.” Deegie rides moonbeams across the heavens and lands at a charming little white cottage with the words “Welcome to Sunny Slopes” emblazoned across it. The fairy is gone, but a magic wand lies glowing at his feet. Inside the house, he finds a fire burning in the fireplace and a “table laden with food.”

There’s something creepy and sad about this; it reminds me of the Kubrick/Spielberg movie AI, when the robot boy ends up in his fantasy cottage with his mom and teddy bear after being granted a wish by Pinocchio’s blue fairy (hmm…).

Anyway, the next morning, Deegie runs out to the barnyard to see if his friends have also been saved, but alas, the pastures are empty. Bereft, he sits by a creek and starts rolling some mud between his fingers. He has an epiphany — if he can’t get his real friends back, he will make just new ones out of clay!

He placed them in a row on the table. All were there except Frisky the Horse, Balky the Mule, and Milky the Cow. His eager fingers shaped the clay, a little more here, a little less there and just as the clock was striking twelve, the last one was finished.

He then remembers the magic wand and waves it over his clay models, and — voila! — his little friends are resurrected.

Deegie’s happiness was now complete. Tomorrow he would once again race through the fields with his beloved little playmates scampering along beside him. He would never be lonely again. Never!

Quite an odd tale, but maybe a little less so when you learn the back story: The Rempels were a husband and wife team, and the book appears to be Ruth’s homage to her husband. Dietrich was a Russian Mennonite who fled the Revolution in 1917, so this story can be read allegorically — the U.S.A. is the “wonderful land far over the sea where everyone is happy and gay.” He ended up in Akron, Ohio (“the Rubber Capital of the World”), where he eventually started Rempel Enterprises, which manufactured squeaky animal toys as well as ceramic and porcelain versions. The toys are quite collectible; you can find a lot of them on eBay — “Froggie the Gremlin,” based on a character from a 1940s children’s TV show, seems to be the most sought-after. (Fun fact: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dietrich Rempel designed a Mickey Mouse gas mask for American children, approved by the military and Walt Disney himself. Wowsie.)

I appreciate Deegie’s many layers — it's an allegorical children’s book that’s both biography and marketing tool. Pretty neat.

20 comments:

teresa said...

My best friend had this book when I was growing up and I loved it. A few years ago she made a gift of this book to me. I am waiting for my grandchildren to get old enough for me to read it to them.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have this book. It was my favorite as a child.
Vickie

ledaumas said...

I own this book and see that it's available on amazon.com for $163.52 so I have no idea what to sell it for. But I'm willing to sell it now before I put it for sale on amazon.com myself.

ledaumas said...

I should have said, I don't think I should sell it for that much. That's why I have no idea to sell it for.

David said...

I would pay $25 for it. My grandmother worked at the Remple factory as a young lady and would love a clean copy for my new born. I have a copy that I wrote all over as a kid.

dondimay said...

I have been searching for Deegie and the Fairy Princess book, thus within my search have a huge collection of all the animal characters in pottery style all the way to figural planters. A friend scanned me the book. All the figurines, plus some of the rubber squeak toys are my in my hutch on display.

ledaumas said...

I ended up selling this book on Amazon.com on August 18, 2009 for $100 here in Houston where I live. I offered the person a refund if they didn't like the condition of the book. But it was in pretty good condition and I haven't heard back from them yet. So I guess it must be a good price since it sold so fast.

Anonymous said...

Th3e book is going on ebay now for only $29.99! The seller seems to have messed up with the title so search for "Deggie"

Anonymous said...

The book is on sale on ebay for only $29.99 the seller has messed up on the title so do a search for "Deggie" auction ends soon so hurry

Anonymous said...

this was my favorite growing up....and my father before me. i still have it. though it's in horrid coindition!!

Karen Martin Sampson said...

OMG! I had this book when I was a child in the 50's. My mother worked for Rempel as a secretary for a time in Toronto. Part of the reason I went on to become a working illustrator later in life was due to the illustrations in this book which I loved. I had forgotten the name of the book and have just now tracked it down. I shall have to see about finding a copy to buy (my husband will have a fit over the going price). Incidently, my art work is NOTHING like the the art in this book but it was a big inspiration when I was six!

Nancy Garza said...

I have It!!! I just found it while cleaning out my kids bookshelf.

Nani said...

My brother and I lovedhaving our Mother read this book, and have been searching for it forever, but even moreso since my Mother died. It took a bit longer because I remembered the name as Dondi. My brother finally tracked it down. Is there any way of purchasing one for a reasonable price??? I'd love to be able to share the story with my grandchildren!

Anonymous said...

This was my favorite book growing up in the fifties. It was so magical to me! Is there any way of purchasing one? I would love to share it with my grandchildren. This book has been in my memory my whole life, and I am 65!

Ohiofornian said...

I knew Ruth and Dick Rempel well in the late 40's and early 50's. There were no children. On Safari enter 100 Hampshire Road Akron,Ohio. It is the home they built and where they a year apart in the mid to late 1980's. The home tells a lot about the Rempels. Dick claimed is was modeled on his family home in Russia. The towered staircase is quite impressive and indicates his desire to be associated with wealth and pedigree. Ruth was evasive about her background but about that time I met her niece Connie Fogel who lived inn a trailer camp owned by her father inStreetsboro,Ohio near KENT. She was an accomplished organist and had a pipe organ in her home. She claimed a previous marriage to the general manager of Chrysler of Brazil. She was a Christian Scientist. They were well-liked and not controversial except as being new to wealth by old guard wealth.generous, kind talented!

Nani said...

UC Nanci
I am still looking to purchase this book, if anyone can help me find a copy. As I mentioned, my mother, who died several years ago used for read this book to me and my 4 siblings. One brother and I, in particular, remember this book fondly. I would love to surprise him with a copy.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I just started collecting the glass figurines. Does anybody have a list of what was made?

Diane Terry said...

Would anyone with a copy of Deegie and the Fairy Princess be willing to scan and print the pages of the book? I would be more than willing to compensate you for your time, effort ink and paper!!

Diane Terry said...

Would anyone who has Deegie and the Fairy Princess be willing to scan and print the pages? I would be more than willing to compensate you for your time, paper ad ink!!

Anonymous said...

Good day; I have a copy of the 45 record that Ruth Rempel recorded of the book. It's really well done. I'm also looking for a copy of the book. Thanks so much!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...