Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Week 2009: Treasure the Classics

I am an avid reader and it is something I really really enjoy doing for the simple pleasure of it. I can remember thinking within moments of finding out I was pregnant with Abby that I couldn't wait to start building her a library of wonderful stories so I could pass on my love of the written word straight away. I immediately started researching vintage and antique first editions of my favourites, and how to finance the purchase of the library of my dreams ;p

Both Abby and Ella now adore story time and we read several books a day. However we've made several attempts to read the classics, but unless they have lots of vivid pictures, they're just not interested. I know it's just their age, but I can't help myself, I want to read Alice in Wonderland to them NOW!

Here is my top 10 list of beautifully illustrated children's classics, which if they don't already, will be gracing my bookshelves very soon!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll's complete and unabridged text are graced with the unique perspective of Alison Jay's illustrations. She shows us an exhilarating Wonderland, where Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and all the rest are playfully quirky and adorably fanciful. Full colour illustrations on nearly every page makes this lavish edition a perfect introduction to the novel.

The Wind in the Willows
The original version of the much love tale of Rat, Badger, Mole and Toad with Illustrations by E H Shepherd is hard to come by these days. However this edition with Kenneth Grahame's classic story and outstanding illustrations by Patrick Benson is a beautiful combination it it's own right.

Pippi Longstocking
Astrid Lindgren's story of the adventurous nine year old Pippi Longstocking is now 50 years young! This latest incantation has the divine illustrations of none other than Lauren Child of Charlie and Lola fame. Pippi Longstocking has just moved into Villa Villekulla where she lives all by herself with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase full of gold coins. Pippi thinks nothing of wrestling a circus strongman, dancing a polka with burglars, or tugging a bull's tail. That's my kind of girl :)

The Jungle Book
Not to be mistaken for the Disneyfied version, Rudyard Kipling's classic Jungle Books One and Two in this edition comprise of the original short stories. Not only does this attractive volume feature the beloved tales of Mowgli, the "man cub" raised by wolves, and Rikki Tikki Tavi, but also the lesser-known but wonderful stories of Toomai, the boy who gets to see elephants dance; Quiquern, who saves his Eskimo people from starvation; and Kotick, the white seal.

Charlotte's Web
Who didn't cry when they read this story in primary school? The unforgettable story of a girl called Fern who loves a little pig called Wilbur. It tells how Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful grey spider, saves Wilbur from the usual fate of nice fat pigs, by a wonderfully clever plan - a plan so original that no one else could possibly have thought of it! This hardback edition is accompanied by the original illustrations by Garth Williams and has been in print for more than 50 years.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
T S Eliot’ s famous collection of nonsense verse about cats was the inspiration for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats did you know? This edition features pen-and-ink illustrations by Edward Gorey and was originally penned by Eliot to amuse his Godchildren and friends in the 1930's. A fun musical and rhythmical read following the adventures of Mr. Mistoffelees the trickmaster, old Deuteronomy, a laid-back cat, Rum Tum Tugger, a contrary cat, and Macavity, the famous master criminal.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition
Celebrating over a hundred years in print, this is only 1 in 15 books in the Oz series written by L Frank Baum. This lavishly produced facsimile of the rare first edition contains all 24 of W. W. Denslow's original color plates, the colorful pictorial binding, and the 130 two-color illustrations that help make" The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" so special and enduring.

The Magic Faraway Tree
Enid Blyton's classic tales of Joe, Beth and Frannie and their adventures in the Faraway Tree series are making a resurgence in popularity. I must have read this series a hundred times between the ages of 6-8 and I loved it and found something new each time. Enid Blyton is the master of the children's tale and is the author of some 800 publications including novels, story collections, some non-fiction and magazine articles. WOW!

Biggles Story Collection Vol 1
The legacy of James Bigglesworth, better known in flying circles as Biggles is also making somewhat of a comeback with a two volume collection of his adventures now available. First editions and also vintage copies of any Biggles book by W E Johns will bring you big bucks these days. In this edition "Biggles in France" - Biggles discovers that air combat is becoming more sophisticated; "Biggles Defends the Desert" - fighting the arid conditions of the desert is a desperate business; and "Biggles: Foreign Legionnaire" - Biggles and Ginger enlist in the French Foreign Legion.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Can you imagine Roald Dahl's tale of the five luckiest children in the entire world and their visit to Willy Wonka's famous, mysterious chocolate factory without Quinten Blakes illustrations? I know I can't, in fact it almost feels like sacrilege to ready any other version. This is high on my list of favourite books of all time, at let me tell you, a lot of Roald Dahl's stories are in that list.

All of these books can be found at Fishpond.com.au

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