Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Finding Lost Treasures of Childhood
I was talking to a friend the other day about books we treasured from our childhoods. We have saved the books we loved but sometimes books get lost over the years or in my friend's case, during her frequent military moves. I told her she could find them through Internet booksellers. She said, really?! She had never apparently used Internet booksellers so I thought I would tell the story of one treasure I thought I would never find again. You can see its picture above.
I loved my copy of Cinderella and held on to it for a long time but at some point during my childhood it disappeared. It may have gotten given to my Montessori school library as many of my not-so-valued children's books did. I just don't know. I remembered it was a very large, thin book with the title Cinderella and that the cover had a green background with a golden coach and Cinderella in a golden gown. I loved the illustrations which showed gorgeous 18th-century clothes. I have never seen another Cinderella version that appeared as beautiful to me and I did look hoping to find "my" Cinderella. But without remembering the author or illustrator, I was stuck.
Last summer, 30-some years after losing my copy, I took a class on fairy tales online through Rutgers University with Monica Edinger and Roxanne Hsu Feldman aka fairrosa. I told the story of my lost book in a class post and Monica told me that there was a detailed Cinderella bibliography available through Rochester. She recommended that I search it. Off I hurried to search the bibliography and checked their General Collections list. I used the find function on the tool bar and searched for golden, hoping to find a mention of a Cinderella in a golden gown. I had noticed over the years that she is almost never shown in a golden gown so I thought that might help my search. I used the find function to search by golden and after finding various golden shoes and fish, I finally found this entry:
Andreas, Evelyn. Cinderella: An Old Favorite with New Pictures. Illustrated by Ruth Ives. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1954.
[The narrative follows Robert Samber’s English adaptation of Perrault. The illustrations use 18th-century settings and dress; the fairy is a young, attractive blonde, as is Cinder-wench. Her ballgown is golden yellow, trimmed with pink roses. Her wedding gown is white, and the flowers adorning the aisle of the church are pink roses. The kingdom rejoices in their salons, while the honeymooners sit in a garden at a table situated on an oriental carpet beneath a white cloth drapery that serves as a sort of tent.]
This sounded like my childhood memory of the illustrations. Off I went to the Internet used booksellers' search engines. I chose to check Abebooks first, much as I dislike it, because you sometimes see cover images by the booksellers' listings. There were a couple of images of the cover and it looked enough like my childhood memory that I ordered a cheap copy of the book. When it arrived a week later I opened it up and yes, those were the illustrations I remembered! The story is still as beautiful and satisfying as my childhood memory had recalled.
Luckily I had specifically ordered a large-format copy because according to WorldCat, this Cinderella was reprinted by Wonder Books in a smaller-format edition (21 cm.) with fewer pages up to 1977. It appears to be only the Grosset & Dunlap copies that are folio size (31 cm.) with the complete set of illustrations.
So my advice to all of you is to search the following Internet book search engines for your lost treasures: AddAll Used, ViaLibri, or eBay Books, though eBay is frustrating to use. I have not figured out why they don't have an advanced search form where you can search by author and title. Don't forget to limit the search engines to search by price, ascending so that you find the cheapest copies listed first. Some of the Internet prices are crazy, in my opinion anyway.
If you are having trouble finding your lost book through Internet booksellers, check WorldCat through their free portal on the web. Since I'm a librarian I can use the regular WorldCat, which searches all libraries, not just the ones accessible through the free portal. If your book was published in another country, check that country's national library catalog. Even now there are books that don't appear in WorldCat but may appear in other library catalogs that are not yet a part of WorldCat.
If you are stuck and don't have enough information for a search like I did, find out if there is a bibliography of the subject, the author, or the illustrator that may contain your elusive title. You can post queries about lost treasures to listservs for children's librarians or to an interesting resource at the bookseller, Loganberry Books, Book Stumpers, where for a small fee you can post your query. I enjoy reading their queries and archives when I have the time. There are a lot of people hunting for treasure out there!
Note: Apparently Ruth Ives illustrated other fairy tales and children's books during the 1950s and 1960s. I may try to get hold of these other books to see her illustrations. Neither WorldCat or ArchiveGrid list papers of Evelyn Andreas or Ruth Ives which makes me sad. So many children's book authors and illustrators are forgotten today and I don't think judging by this book that these two deserve to be!
Second note: I may post future posts on other lost and found treasures. Let me know if you want me to do that.