Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Merry Shipwreck

The Merry Shipwreck
George Duplaix ~ Tibor Gergley
Western Publishing, 1942

Written by one of the conceivers of Little Golden Books and illustrated by another of its finest, The Merry Shipwreck is my son's favorite sort of book... meaning it is jam packed with animals. And merry animals, to boot.

Adorable ducklings. Harmlessly cute mice. Doves, rabbits, a goat, a donkey, a cow, a turkey, a goose, chickens, cats... and don't forget the parrot! Plus a salty, tattooed sailor who must commandeer a fire boat when his animals sail off and become shipwrecked and lost at sea.

Suddenly--before the parrot could say "Jack Robinson!"-- the rope snapped and the barge was headed down the river! What a lark! All the animals hung over the side to wave good-by to Captain Barnacle who was just coming back with his basket. The cow steered, the donkey poled, and the pig waved a towel at the tugs that passed. They reached the end of the river, and traveling was such fun that no one noticed when the sun slipped under a cloud. The sky grew dark. Soon there was thunder and lightning and wind and rain. Big waves slapped against the barge, rolling it this way and that. The crew bellowed and barked and bleated and meowed for dear life.

Fear not, all is well in the end, and as with all good books, this one finishes up with a party. The moral of the story? Never sharpen your teeth on a rope that holds you safely to shore. A life lesson for all of us...

Though mine is a Giant Golden Book from 1970, it's still in print in a Little Golden Book version. I found this, what must be the original dust jacket, on another blog. (Yes? No?) It's fabulous, and from the scan it looks like one of those books that would feel so nice in your hands. And that fabulous spread of Manhattan. Wow. The Merry Shipwreck is still a charmer after all the years. So great that books like this are still around for children to fall in love with.


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  1. That's a fabulous dust jacket! I have this story in "Tibor Gergely's Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories," a book I probably wouldn't have chosen had it not been for your blog, but which is in great demand around here now. (I usually prefer individual books for each story, but I've come to see the advantage of big collections sometimes, inspired, at first by a post you did about reading Richard Scarry, I think, at the dinner table.)

  2. Quick question ... do you let your son have free access to all the vintage goodness? I've got two under 5 so I'm putting the vintage books I have on the top shelf. I don't want to limit their access BUT ...

  3. Yes. I do let my son have free access. I buy the old books for him to enjoy, not to collect. The way I see it, even if the books are worth $100 to a collector, I only paid a dollar for them and they were meant to be enjoyed by a child. My son has never torn, written on or defaced a book in any way... not sure why, but it's like he was born with an innate respect... That said, I do have a handful of books that I either paid a lot for or are signed, and I keep those out of reach... just two or three though.

  4. The flapping curtain on the cover, the facial expressions, the donkey's face, the line, "What a lark!"...I am in love.