various authors and illustrators
Nelson Doubleday, Inc., various years
I'm probably way behind the curve on this, but here goes. It all started a few weeks ago when my friend gef snaked me by 15 minutes at a library sale and walked away with what she described as this "series of really cool old books." A week later, I am thrifting and I come across two coverless books from a Doubleday series I've seen before but never cracked open and what was inside was a collection of the most vivid and wonderful stories, all illustrated by different artists.
As I was flipping through one of them later that night, I happened across a story called The Magic Porridge Pot and noticed the author was Andy Warhol. And I thought to myself, "THE Andy Warhol". It took about two seconds of Internet searching to find this blog post explaining the Warhol/ Nelson Doubleday connection and in an instant, I was hooked to find more. Not just the Warhol volumes, but the collection includes early works (some commissioned just for this) from everyone: Leonard Weisgard, Feodor Rojankovsky, Ezra Jack Keats, Paul Galdone, Adrienne Adams, Peter Spier, Richard Scarry, Barbara Cooney, Ruth Ives, Don Freeman, Garth Williams, Leonard Kessler... I could go on but my wrist is cramping. Really, it is a nauseatingly fabulous array.... like a yearbook of illustration from my favorite era and beyond.
In the last week, I've been buying them wherever I can. (Needless to say, these were the books "my friend" snaked me on. Blah.) I think there are more than 40 volumes, but I don't know for sure. Anyone have anymore history? I won't go into every story, but they include folk tales and fairy tales and silly stories and historic reenactments and even some photo travel essay. Way, way, way beyond cool. Here is a sampling of just some of the awesome illustration you will find. Really, don't be fooled by the high pricing on some of the volumes when you start sniffing around. The less expensive volumes are just as good. Every book has something that will blow your flipping mind. (I've added some of Sendak's Velveteen Rabbit drawings at the end.)