Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Childhood Treasure Expanded and the Trail of Three Interesting Women

One of the books that I adored as a child and still treasure in my collection is an old Scholastic paperback reprint from the 1970s of Marian Cockrell's Shadow Castle (New York: Whittlesey House, 1945). This magical tale of a little girl, who while playing in the woods near her home, follows a cute little dog through the woods into a mysterious and scary tunnel, and finds a castle in a shadowy green valley, still enchants me. My paperback copy was even printed in green ink as were the delicious illustrations.

Lucy, the little girl, meets a nice young man, Michael who takes her into the castle and shows her a room where there are shadows on the wall of people who live elsewhere and tells her tales about these people. I won't spoil the plot for those of you who have not yet read this wonderful book.

Recently I thought to try to find out something on the Internet about this book and to my surprise I found it had been reprinted with 6 additional chapters by Marian Cockrell's daughter, Amanda Cockrell, who is herself a novelist and the director of the Graduate Programs in Children's Literature at Hollins University. I happily ordered a copy immediately and when it arrived, devoured it. The six chapters added two tales about some of those shadow people, but the book is great in either version.

I decided it would make a fun post about the two editions and hunted through the Internet, biographical databases and historical newspapers to try to dig up information on Marian Cockrell and Olive Bailey, the illustrator. The information I found is scattered and was difficult to find...

Marian Brown Cockrell was born 1909 in Birmingham, Alabama, lived for many years in California and died in 1999 in Roanoke, Virginia at age 90. She wrote short stories for magazines such as Liberty Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, and Collier's in the 1930s and 1940s, six novels, and one children's book. Then I discovered she was also a screenwriter for movies and tv shows from the 1930s to the 1980s, including the tv series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman. Her husband Frank Cockrell was also a screenwriter from the 1930s to the 1970s and even directed a couple of episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Aha, I thought. Here's why she didn't write more. More money in the movies. Sigh....

Still that wasn't enough for a good post, was it? Courageously, I sent an email to Amanda Cockrell via her website, explaining that I was a fan of Shadow Castle and was putting together a blog post about it and her mother. Could she possibly answer some questions? To my astonishment she promptly replied!

The first question she answered was why the book had come back into print with six additional chapters. With her permission I am quoting our emails:

AC: The book came back into print oddly. What happened was that her original publisher forgot to renew the copyright in time and the book went into the public domain. Mama was furious, but a literary lawyer said there was nothing she could do. She couldn't get the copyright back and couldn't sue the publisher since she couldn't prove she had been damaged-- no one wanted to reprint it anyway. About ten years later, a publisher called Buccaneer Books (appropriately) who specializes in reprinting stuff that's gone out of copyright, reprinted it, and of course Mama didn't get a nickel for it. Then the lawyer said that now she could theoretically sue but the statue of limitations had passed. Arrgh! But at about that time the Authors Guild began their backinprint.com program, through which authors could re-issue their own out of print books. So we took the extra chapters (these had been cut because the book was too long when it was originally published) and copyrighted those, then issued the new edition. Buccaneer can still reprint the old version but they can't reprint the new chapters, so we hope we are pulling the rug out from under them. Anyway, that's the tale.

I've heard tales of problems with copyright before but that really made me go ouch, espcially since I remembered that I had bought that edition years before so as to have a hardback copy to supplement my old paperback copy. Oh dear!

I promptly sent back another email asking some questions:

JS: I didn't remember the frontispiece illustration and one or two of the illustrations in the new chapters. Do I assume they were cut too? Was Olive Bailey a friend of Marian Cockrell or an illustrator assigned by the publisher?

AC: All the illustrations in the new edition are from the original. I couldn't find out how to get in touch with Olive Bailey or her estate, but I had the copyright office do a copyright check, and the copyright on the illustrations and the cover had not been renewed either (as I suspected since Buccaneer used most of the interior illustrations) so we could use them, since I own the original of the cover, which Olive Bailey gave to my mother. They didn't know each other. The publisher assigned the illustrator. It was interesting, adding the extra chapters. Since each chapter starts with an illustrated letter, we had to make the new ones start with letters we already had. I had to tweak the first sentences of most of them. Fortunately we had some essential letters, like T for "The" and M for "Mika" and W for "When." I also had to add a few sentences here and there to introduce the two new storylines, since they had been cut from the original and the rest revised to take out all mention of them. They had been cut because publisher thought the book was too long, and also that these two stories were too scary.

[They aren't scary to my modern eyes!]

JS: Since your mother lived in Virginia in later years, I wondered if Shadow Castle might actually be set in Virginia rather than Alabama where she was born. Something about the description of the forest and mountain makes me think of the western part of the state...

AC: I think she was thinking of Alabama. She grew up there and didn't move to Virginia until she was in her 80s, long after she wrote Shadow Castle.

JS: Did your mother tell you stories about whether Lucy went back to the enchanted valley and what she saw there? I always wondered what happened next!

AC: She started a couple of sequels, but never felt that she really was on the right track.

JS: I found through searching for biographical material on your mother that she also wrote tv and movie scripts and 6 adult novels. I would like to know why she didn't write more children's books. Was this a set of stories she told you as a child that she turned into a book?

AC: She did write another children's book but could never get it published (not a Shadow Castle sequel). She told me those stories as a child, and read me Shadow Castle, but it was published before I was born.

[I want to read that book. I hope Amanda gets it published someday!]

JS: Would you mind sharing memories of this book and of your mother? Since your father also wrote movie scripts you grew up in a very literary family. I wondered if, since there was more money in the movies, your mother focused on scriptwriting rather than novels? I'm thinking about checking out her novels through interlibrary loan. Which would you particularly recommend?

AC: She liked writing novels better, but TV did pay better, as you suggest. My favorites of her books are The Revolt of Sarah Perkins and Yesterday's Madness (that one will seem very dated, though. It came out in the 40s. The heroine breaks off her engagement with her fiancé and then discovers she is pregnant by him after just being talked into going to bed with him once. She marries a childhood friend as a way to keep the baby. The Saturday Evening Post turned it down as a serial because it was too "lurid."

JS: I would like to know more about the Author's Guild's Backinprint.com program too. How many authors have used it and how many children's books have been reprinted through it? I had trouble searching iUniverse for just the Author's Guild books.

AC: I don't know how many, but a lot. Try going to the Author's Guild site and click on backinprint.com under "Resources" on the right. That should take you to just the backinprint.com books. [There are 1448 books listed, and there are some interesting looking children's book reprints among them].

This interview sparked more questions in my mind and I went off to dig some more. One of my passions is genealogy so I know how to find people. I began to dig harder on Olive Bailey. I had already found that she illustrated two other books, Arthur Ageton's Mary Jo and Little Liu (New York: Whittlesey House, 1945) and Isabel Manning Hewson's The Land of the Lost (New York: Whittlesey House, 1945) [see the cover image above]. So in 1945 she was working for Whittlesey House, which was a division of McGraw-Hill. While I was looking for covers and information on these books, I came across a mention of her as a cartoonist! It turns out that The Land of the Lost was a popular children's radio show from 1943 to 1948 and I found a detailed discussion of the show and its spinoffs, particularly the comic series Olive Bailey illustrated at Scott Shaw's Oddball Comics. The creator of the show was Isabel Manning Hewson and I dug further and found an Isabel Manning Hewson tribute page with photos and short biographies of her and Olive Bailey (scroll down to see them). Olive Bailey's biography stated that she was married to Arno Scheiding. Aha! Any genealogist knows that when you can't find a woman, you must look for her married name. It turned out that Olive Bailey Scheiding (1904-1994) lived most of her life in Darien, Connecticut with her husband, industrial designer, Arno Scheiding. After the 1940s she seems to have quit illustration and focused on painting. The Bridgeport Post (CT) has various articles on group shows that included her work. Arno Scheiding's 1975 New York Times obituary named no children, only his wife, and an unnamed brother and sister. Olive Scheiding died in Manatee county, Florida, and I have been unable to locate her heirs other than a bank (trustee)... Sigh. I had hoped to find another friendly correspondent to tell me more about her...

For those who would like to see more of her comic artwork after examining the illustrations at Oddball Comics, rather than spending money on collectible comics or original art (both have been sold in the past at auction), I would recommend hunting down a copy of Trina Robbins' A Century of Women Cartoonists (1993) at AtomicAvenue.com

It's been expanded and rewritten as

So who is the third interesting woman I mentioned? Isabel Manning Hewson, of course! According to her biography she was a pioneer woman radio commentator and developed, narrated and presumably produced The Land of the Lost. You can hear six episodes from this radio program here. You click on the radio shows link and then on the mp3 files which seem to work. Here's a Library of Congress discussion of the prominence of women in early radio which mentions Hewson.

I even found another copyright "ouch" item:

Isabel Manning Hewson Kirkland vs NBC
USDC, E.D. Penn (12-17-1976) ¤ 425 F.Supp. 1111
In 1933, Kirkland originated a story called “Land of the Lost” which became a radio program broadcast from 1943 to 1948. Children listeners formed “Land of the Lost” clubs, but the last disbanded by January 1954.

NBC started a new children’s television program called Land of the Lost (unrelated but for the title) in September 1974. Kirkland thought her rights to the title had been infringed. The Judge ruled that “a copyright in literary material does not secure any right in title itself”. Any secondary meaning attained by the title had been abandoned by her doing nothing for more than 20 years since the last commercial use by Kirkland. There was no “likelihood of confusion” between the programs of NBC and Kirkland. Whatever her previous success, “her extended non-use has resulted in a loss of rights to the title”.

Aha! Kirkland, another married name to track down...

Much Later: Ooof. She was the hardest of all. Newspaper databases like NewspaperArchive.com and Ancestry.com with its historical newspapers, and through my university, Proquest's historical newspaper databases, such as the New York Times and Chicago Tribune archives, don't have that much actual information about her. There are plenty of references to her radio broadcasts from Philadelphia in the 1930s and 1940s but not much personal information. I finally figured out some genealogical information that I think would be boring to go into. Isabel Manning Hewson Kirkland (1898-1980) may have gone into radio broadcasting because she was a divorced woman, looking to support herself. She seems to have had a very successful career. [I found a 1946 article that refers to her as a beautiful, blonde childless divorcee, while talking about her successful children's radio show, which made me go ouch at the period biases implicit in such a description]. In 1948, when The Land of the Lost went off the air, she seems to have ceased any radio work. I think she remarried at this point to Frederic R. Kirkland, and chose to retire.

To pull everything back towards Shadow Castle, I would like to point out that all the female characters in Shadow Castle are strong girls and women who do things and have adventures. Even Gloria flings things at her ugly suitor and fights like hell before being rescued by Mika. And what about adventurous little Lucy, fairy godmother Flumpdoria, and Meira who becomes best friends with a dragon? Legions of young girls seem to have responded to that. Amazon.com is full of rave reviews of this book by people who remember it from their childhoods, and are excited to have found it again!

So, Shadow Castle led me to explore the lives of three interesting women who had successful careers [despite the mythology that few women had successful careers before the 1960s]. This long and winding trail has led me to explore the history of radio, comics, publishing, genealogy, and to fun posts by people who share my love of this book. Every time I research a book or author, I end up finding such great stories and people!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Power of Presidential Biographies

There has been a flood of biographies of presidential candidates this year. The president elected on November 4th, 2008, will undoubtedly have many more biographies written about him in the future, whether or not he is a "great" president. The times are such that if he deals effectively with them he will probably be acclaimed as one of the greatest presidents the U.S. ever had. If he is the person I will be voting for, I think many of my historical heroes will be cheering from Heaven (smile).

In any case, presidential biographies taught me to love reading and many other children have also experienced similar fascination with history and biography. We have generally gone on to believe firmly in the importance of voting. There are many articles right now about how children are participating in mock elections and watching the current election with fascination. For the sake of all our children, do go vote, no matter who you vote for.

This is my story of the power of presidential biographies:

I can't remember a time when I didn't read. My family tells the story of how I became an enthusiastic reader as follows:

On my seventh birthday, January 10th, 1972, I came home from school and proclaimed that Richard Nixon was the greatest president ever. Apparently my teacher had been praising Nixon to her class. She had been talking about Nixon's upcoming visit to China. The class had even written a letter to Nixon and he had replied with a signed book. This was before Watergate of course.

My parents, life-long Democrats, were very upset to hear me praising Nixon. My father said there were many many much greater presidents. I said who?, and he started listing them all in order from George Washington on down. When he got tangled up with Grover Cleveland, et al, he took me down to the local library and we came back with a bag of children's presidential biographies. I sat down and read all of those books then went back for more. By the end of that school year, the teacher, who had been complaining I wasn't reading on my own enough, was complaining I was reading too much!

I did some exploring and found two familiar covers that are shown above. I don't remember the stories in the books, but I remember those covers and the stepping lion symbol, for the series: Step-Up Books.

This bookdealer's website has covers and scans of some of the pages of books in the Step-Up series and they look very familiar.

I went on to read other biographies and historical fiction, and one author that I really loved was Genevieve Foster. She wrote and illustrated George Washington's World (New York: Scribner's, 1941) and Abraham Lincoln's World (New York: Scribner's, 1946) as well as quite a few other books. These two books won Newbery honor medals in 1942 and 1946 respectively. What was magical about these books for me was that they not only began with images of the main characters' childhoods but talked about historical events worldwide, setting their lives into historical perspective and telling me about fascinating people and events happening at the same time around the world. I collected any of Foster's books I could lay my hands on, and since I've discovered I don't have them all, may collect the rest! While digging for information for this post, I found that five are in print at Beautiful Feet Books, although the two I name here have been changed and expanded by Genevieve Foster's daughter Jeanne Foster. They are apparently very popular with homeschool families.

I would go on to read many more biographies and works of historical fiction and ended up a historian, genealogist, and rare book librarian, all through the power of these books.

So, on Tuesday morning, I will go stand in line to vote, and I hope all of you that read my blog will go to vote. If you live outside of the U.S., please vote in your own elections!

See Chasing Ray's Blog the Vote for many great posts on the importance of voting!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Lost Treasure and Thoughts about Dinosaurs

I've been going through boxes and shelves of books lately, trying to clear books out so we have room to move in our house full of books. I came across a book inscribed to my brother from my Uncle Wally, Aunt Celia, and cousins John, Kate and Elsbeth, Xmas, 1967 (sadly, Elsbeth died of a brain tumor at age 6 in April 1968). The book looked fun and I put it aside to save for my brother. When I mentioned it to him, he was blown away. I had found one of his lost treasures of childhood. That book was The Great Bone Hunt, by Margaret Cooper (New York: Macmillan, 1967).

He prodded me to retrieve it from the bottom of a pile and happily settled down to read it. Afterwards he rather ruefully admitted that the story had gotten mixed up in his memory. He remembered it as a story about the discovery of dinosaur bones in the 19th century in England, and thought it had an illustration of a dinner at the Crystal Palace in 1851 in the midst of a dinosaur skeleton. Nooo. The book is actually the story of the discovery and reconstruction of mammoth skeletons by Charles Willson Peale in America in 1801. The illustrations by Harold Goodwin are delightful. There is even an author's note at the end that reproduces Peale's painting of the excavation of the skeletons. I read the book myself that night with great pleasure though I did not remember it from our childhood. My brother was the one who adored dinosaurs and science in general. I was the poet, dreamer, and writer in the family. Funnily enough, we both ended up as historians...

When he told me about his mixing up the story of the Great Bone Hunt, I immediately recalled hearing of a book about the dinosaur skeletons and reconstructions at the Crystal Palace of 1851. That was Barbara Kerley's The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2001). Perhaps he read it to his children and thus the story got mixed up with his childhood memory? It even includes illustrations of the dinner party in a skeleton. Here's an article about the history behind the book. The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia holds an 1872 scrapbook album by Hawkins, which includes a formal invitation to that dinner and an illustration of it.

The passing down of passions is interesting. My father, born in 1933, was fascinated with dinosaurs as a young boy, and managed to pass that passion on to my brother, who passed it along to his son and daughter. Everytime they visit Chicago, we go off to the Field Museum to see Sue and other dinosaurs. They adore museums so we visit every big exhibit that is open during their visits.

I wish I could share with them a recent discovery sometime soon. This summer at the Children's Literature Association Conference in Normal, Illinois, the illustrator Eric Rohmann gave a talk in ISU's library. He was wonderful. If any of you have a chance to hear him talk, run, do not walk, to hear him! He talked about illustrating and the talks he gives to school children. He drew on a whiteboard, in response to suggestions from the audience. At one point he drew what looked like a pig sinking into quicksand and I said so. He laughed and drew additional curves to make that clearer. After his talk, there was a long, long line to buy his books for him to sign. When I got to the front, all that was left was a paperback copy of Time Flies (a Caldecott honor book in 1994). He drew a quick sketch on the title page of a dinosaur head poking out of quicksand and signed it for me. I'm not ever giving that book away but keeping it forever. However I will show it to my nephew and niece when they come to visit. They are too old for me to send them copies of the book, though...

When I settled down to pore over it that night in my hotel room, I was astonished to find that the very first page showed a bird flying through the Field Museum's huge main hall into the prehistoric past. The illustrations echoed the old dinosaur murals of my childhood visits to the museum, and wasn't that Sue herself, alive and well?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Alexander Key: A Forgotten Author?

Among the many books from my childhood that I have kept and treasured all these years are books by Alexander Key, such as The Forgotten Door, Escape to Witch Mountain, Return From Witch Mountain and The Sword of Aradel. I also have fond memories of the Witch Mountain movies. While Key often shows children fleeing villains and in danger, there is always a happy ending with children returning home and winning out over their enemies. He also portrayed children with ESP and from other worlds. The underlying message of these books I think was that the future belonged to the children and that if adults listened to children, the world would be a better place. Any child would like the idea they could make a difference (smile).

Recently, I rather promised Jen Robinson that I would do a post on Alexander Key, after finding we both fondly remembered his book, The Forgotten Door. I started digging for information on him in order to shape my post. To my surprise, no one seems to have written any scholarly articles or dissertations about Key and his work. He has a biographical entry in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition (1991) and Contemporary Authors Online (2008).

His papers are at the fabulous de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. Because he lived in North Carolina for years and set a number of his books there, the University of North Carolina collected information about some of his books in their literary scrapbook collection. One of my favorite library school professors, Kate McDowell wrote an appreciation of him for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

The fan website Thru the Forgotten Door gives a pretty fair biography of Key. Warning, a lot of the links at that website do not work but it does have some interesting information. As a native Chicagoan, I was astounded to find that Key lived in Chicago. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught at the Studio School of Art, also in Chicago. He started out as an illustrator and I decided to put together as full a bibliography as possible since neither the fan website nor the official biographies list all of Key's own books or those he illustrated. I used the public version of WorldCat and ViaLibri to locate books and images of book covers. My question was how he managed to support himself with the relatively few books he was credited with having written. Now that I've put together this detailed bibliography (see below) and learned that he also wrote and illustrated for various magazines, I suspect he kept extremely busy and that there are other books he illustrated that have not yet been identified.

He wrote and illustrated books set in Florida, where he grew up and returned to live for many years, and in North Carolina, where he later moved, and in Alabama, where he also lived at one time. He had a strong sense of region and nature, as shown by the illustrations and covers I have found. One of the biographies mentions that he also painted professionally and that his work was in private collections. I have been unable to find visual images of his paintings (wistful sigh). I really love his illustrations and may track down copies of these books for my collection. I wonder why, post 1967, he did not illustrate any more books that I have discovered? I would have liked to see his illustrations for the Witch Mountain books, for example.

Exploring the Internet has shown me that many people share my love for Alexander Key's books and enjoyed the movies based on his books. There were even translations to other languages of some of his books and many went into multiple editions. Another Witch Mountain movie, Race to Witch Mountain is scheduled to be released March of 2009. I hope it will provoke a revival of interest in Alexander Key.

For that matter, why doesn't some academic scholar do a paper or book on Key? The materials are out there as I have tried to indicate, and he had a very interesting career as an illustrator and author. The de Grummond Collection just posted announcements of fellowships available for research in their collections, which include Key's papers.

The bibliography is organized, first by books he illustrated, and then by books he wrote, all listed under year of publication so you can get a sense of how his career developed. Having lived in Chicago for some years, it is understandable that his earliest publishers were Chicago publishers and he seems to have maintained ties to the Chicago publishing community.

Books illustrated by him:


Baker, Rannie Belle. In the light of myth; selections from the world’s myths, compiled and interpreted by Rannie B. Baker...Art selection by Ruth C. Stebbins. Illustrations by Alexander Key. Chicago & New York: Row, Peterson & Company, 1925. Reportedly the first book he ever illustrated, at the age of 19, although since he was born in 1904, perhaps the book's publication was delayed? Supposedly he was paid $900 for the illustrations.

Clark, Bertha. Stories of Belle River. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1925.

Edson, Andrew Wheatley. Working Together. By Andrew W. Edson and Mary E. Laing. Chicago, etc.: Benj. H. Sanborn, 1925. The front cover and frontispiece are by Alexander Key. This children's reader was reprinted in 1927 and 1931 and maybe later.

Lyback, Johanna R. M. Indian legends. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1925.


Browne, George Waldo. Indian nights: famous Indian legends, retold by G. Waldo Browne. Illustrated by Alexander Key. New York: Noble and Noble, 1927.

Chalmers, Eleanor M. Talks about our country. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago [etc.]: B.H. Sanborn & Co., 1927.

Freeman, Frank Nugent. Child-story readers [Second reader], by F. N. Freeman, G. E. Storm [& others]. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons, 1927. Reprinted under the title: Magic stories.


Andersen, Hans Christian. The real princess. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Joliet, Ill.: P.F. Volland, 1928. Retells the stories of the Princess and the pea and the Steadfast tin soldier.

Clark, Bertha. Belle River friends in wings and feathers. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1928. A scanned version is available online at the Rosetta Project.

Clark, Bertha. Work and play on Belle River farm. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1928.

Smith, Laura Rountree. Circus animals in Funland. Illustrated by Mae H. Scannell, Olive Lofts, and Constance Enslow. Chicago: Albert A. Whitman & Co., 1928. The cover illustration is by Alexander Key.


Pettee, Florence M. Blunder’s mystery companions. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Co., 1929. Illustrator named as Alexander Key.

Sabin, Elbridge Hosmer. Dollie’s big dream: or the magical man of mirth. Cover drawing by Alexander Key. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Co., 1929.


Browne, George Waldo. Real legends of New England, by G. Waldo Browne. Illustrations by Alexander Key. Chicago: A. Whitman & Co., 1930.


The book of dragons. Selected and edited by O. Muiriel Fuller. Illustrated by Alexander Key. New York: R.M. McBride, 1931. Reprinted by Dover in 2001 (that cover is shown here).


Manning, Clarence Augustus. Marko, the king’s son, hero of the Serbs. Illustrated by Alexander Key. New York: R.M. McBride, 1932. A scanned version is available online. To my surprise, I have a copy of this book that I picked up years ago without realizing that the illustrator was Alexander Key!


Nolan, Jeannette Covert. The young Douglas. Illustrated by Alexander Key. New York: R.M. McBride, 1934.


Barrows, Marjorie. The child life mystery-adventure book, by Marjorie Barrows and Frances Cavanah. Illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli and Alexander Key. New York: Rand McNally, 1936.


Moderow, Gertrude. Six great stories, edited by Gertrude Moderow, Mary Yost Sandrus, Josephine Mitchell [and] Ernest C. Noyes. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago [etc.]: Scott, Foresman, 1937. Contents: Treasure island, by R.L. Stevenson.--The legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving.--Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving..--Shakespeare’s As you like it, by Charles and Mary Lamb.--Gareth and Lynette, by Alfred Tennyson.--The golden touch, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Story parade: a collection of modern stories for boys and girls, by noted authors, Mabel Leigh Hunt, Wilfrid S. Bronson, Charles J. Finger...and others. Introduction by Elizabeth Coatsworth. Illustrations by Frank Dobias, Alexander Key, Lois Lenski...and other contemporary artists. Philadelphia [etc.]: The John C. Winston Company, 1937.


Blackmore, Richard Doddridge. Lorna Doone. Adapted by Rachel Jordan, A.O. Berglund [and] Carleton Washburne. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago [etc.]: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1938. Adapted for a juvenile audience.

Matschat, Cecile Hulse. Suwannee river: strange green land, by Cecile Hulse Matschat. Illustrated by Alexander Key. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1938.

Stratton, Clarence. When Washington danced: a tale of the American Revolution, by Clarence Stratton. Adapted by Gertrude Moderow. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Chicago: Scott-Foresman, 1938.


Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island. Adapted by Gertrude Moderow, Josephine Mitchell, [and] Ernest C. Noyes. Illustrated by Alexander Key and Ernie King. Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1949.


Judson, Clara Ingram. Sun Yat-Sen, by Clara Ingram Judson. Illustrations by Alexander Key. Frances Cavanah, director of biographies. Evanston, Ill.: Roe, Peterson, 1953.


Blackford, Charles Minor. Deep treasure, a story of the Greek sponge fishers of Florida. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Winston, 1954.

Campbell, Sam. Loony Coon: antics of a rollicking raccoon, by Sam Campbell. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Indianapolis & New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1954.

Matschat, Cecile Hulse. Ladd of the big swamp: a story of the Okefenokee settlement. Illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Winston, 1954.


Helm, Thomas. Monsters of the deep. Illustrated with photos., and with drawings, by Alexander Key. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1962.


Lyback, Johanna R. M. Indian legends of eastern America. Color illustrations and map ornamentation by Dick West. Other illustrations by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1963.

Lyback, Johanna R. M. Indian legends of the great West. Color illustrations and map ornamentation by Dick West. Other illustrations by Alexander Key. Chicago: Lyons and Carnahan, 1963.

Books by Alexander Key:


Key, Alexander. The red eagle: being the adventurous tale of two young flyers. Story & pictures by Alexander Key. New York: P.F. Volland, 1930. Reprinted in 1930 and 1935 by the Wise-Parslow Company, New York.


Key, Alexander. Liberty or death: the narrative of William Dunbar, partisan. Presented in story and picture, by Alexander Key. New York & London: Harper & Brothers, 1936.


Parents’ Institute (New York, N.Y.). Best stories for boys and girls: pages of stories selected by the editors of “The Parents’ Magazine.” New York: Parents’ Institute, 1938. Includes the story: “Caroliny trail, by Alexander Key” from the magazine, Story Parade, which had been recently published.


Argosy, v. 295, no. 2. New York: Frank A. Munsey, December 2, 1939. Contains a story by Alexander Key: “Black Bayou--short novelet”, Stranger, don’t fear the whisper of the ’Glades tonight. Morning will bring the sun, and a girl’s song, and the promise of a safe Destiny, p. 72. Apparently some other issues of Argosy during the 1930s contained other stories by him.


Key, Alexander. With Daniel Boone on the Caroliny trail. Written and illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia [etc.]: The John C. Winston Company, 1941.


Key, Alexander. Boys will be boys: very easy pantomimes and entertainments for boys, by Alexander Key. Franklin, Ohio: Eldridge Entertainment House, 1945.


Key, Alexander. The wrath and the wind, a novel. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1949. An adult novel. Translated into Spanish in 1950 as La ira y el viento. I posted here the Popular Library paperback cover because it's such a cheesy one!


Key, Alexander. Island light. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1950. An adult novel.


Key, Alexander. Island of escape. Toronto, Ontario: Harlequin Books, 1952. Harlequin book 237. Not clear if this is a romance or adult novel. In the early years Harlequin published non-romances as well.


Key, Alexander. Cherokee boy. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1957. Translated into Swedish in 1958 as Den hemliga dalen.


Key, Alexander. Sprockets, a little robot. Written and illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963. Translated into Spanish in 1967 as El robotito.


Key, Alexander. Rivets and sprockets. Written and illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964. Translated into Spanish in 1967 as Vuelven los robotitos.


Key, Alexander. The forgotten door. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965. Published by Scholastic in paperback in the same year and still in print. Translated into Chinese in 1973 as Qi yi de men and into German in 1975 as Die Tür zu einer anderen Welt. It was made into a 1966 tv series with 7 episodes.


Key, Alexander. Bolts, a robot dog. Written and illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1966.


Key, Alexander. The mystery of the sassafras chair. Illustrated by Louis Segal. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967.


Key, Alexander. Escape to Witch Mountain. Illustrated by Leon B. Wisdom, Jr. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968. Translated into German in 1977 as Die Kinder vom anderen Stern. It was adapted as a Walt Disney Productions film in 1975.


Key, Alexander. The golden enemy. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969.


Key, Alexander. The incredible tide. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1970.


Key, Alexander. Flight to the lonesome place. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971.


Key, Alexander. The strange white doves; true mysteries of nature. Written and illustrated by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972.


Key, Alexander. The preposterous adventures of Swimmer. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1973.


Key, Alexander. The magic meadow. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975.


Key, Alexander. Jagger, the dog from elsewhere. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976.


Key, Alexander. The sword of Aradel. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977.


Key, Alexander. Chill factor. New York: Doubleday, 1978. A Crime Club edition.

Key, Alexander. Return from Witch Mountain, by Alexander Key based upon Walt Disney Productions’ motion picture. Screenplay written by Malcolm Marmorstein, based upon characters created by Alexander Key. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978. The 1979 London edition claims this was actually written by Martin Mellet. The book was written as a companion to the Walt Disney Productions film which was released in 1978. See the entry on Wikipedia.


Key, Alexander. The case of the vanishing boy. New York: Pocket Books, 1979. This appears to only have been printed in a paperback edition.

Play adaptations:

Falls, Gregory A. The forgotten door, adapted for stage by Gregory A. Falls from the book by Alexander Key. New Orleans, La.: Anchorage Press, 1982.

Movie adaptations:

Mirai shōnen Konan, gensaku, Aregusandā Kei, enshutsu, Miyazaki Hayao. Tōkyō: Tokuma Shoten, 1997. A anime-style book adaptation of Miyazaki’s anime tv series which was based on Key's The Incredible Tide. Information on the anime tv series can be found here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Carnival of Children's Literature

Welcome to the September 21, 2008 edition of the Carnival of Children's Literature.

Ta da! Welcome one and all to my blog and to this month's roundup of wonderful blog posts!

I'm delighted to find reviews of two of my favorite childhood books. How wonderful to find others love these books too!

Charlotte presents Timeslip Tuesday: The Ghosts, by Antonia Barber posted at Charlotte's Library.

Jen Robinson presents The Forgotten Door: Alexander Key posted at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

The following books sound like fun! Does anyone else remember them?

Eva Mitnick presents That Brute Family - Russell and Lillian Hoban's all-too-real creation posted at Book Addiction.

Here's a review of a book from the 1940s:

Stacy Dillon presents The Bells of Bleecker Street posted at Booktopia.

Becky Laney shares two classic books that are still in print at Becky's Book Reviews of Beezus and Ramona and Young Readers: A Beatrix Potter Treasury.

Nancy Arruda presents a treasure trove of Recycled Books posted at Bees Knees Reads that she found at book sales. I'm wistfully envious. I'd love to have copies of those books in my own collection.

Daniel Kretschmer presents changing images of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland posted at Alice's Adventures in Art at vince's ear, saying, "We all know and love the literature of Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland. Let's not neglect the hundreds of wonderful illustrators who brought Alice to life."

Here's a review of the first Madeline book in 50 years!

Megan Germano presents Madeline and the Cats of Rome by John Bemelmans Marciano posted at Read, Read, Read. I have a copy of Marciano's biography of his grandfather, Ludwig Bemelmans sitting on my to-be-read pile, Bemelmans: The Life and Art of Madeline's Creator (1999). At some point I may post about it and other books I'm reading...

A delightful musical piece is shared with us by:

Alkelda the Gleeful at Song of the Week: Let's Play in the Forest posted at Saints and Spinners. She said, "I posted a video of the song "Let's Play in the Forest (while the wolf is not around)", which is used in the book of the same title by Claudia Rueda."

I recently had this next book in my hands because the author gave the book to my library which has a great geography collection. I enjoyed it and recommend it too!

Peter Jones presents Children Read and Learn: New Book Does Both posted at Great New Books that Are a Must Read.

It's Hispanic Heritage Month and several blogs join the celebration:

Tarie presents Author Interview: Diana Rodriguez Wallach posted at Into the Wardrobe.

Aline Pereira presents Hispanic Heritage Month 2008 posted at PaperTigers Blog.

Sonja Cole presents South America Video Booktalk posted at Bookwink, saying, "In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, this video booktalk shot in Ecuador talks about the book Lost Treasure of the Inca."

Here's a review of a book set in Thailand:

Janet Brown presents The Tiger’s Choice: Talking About The Happiness of Kati posted at PaperTigers Blog.

Jennifer Bogart presents Book Review: The Rabbit and the Snowman by Sally O. Lee posted at Quiverfull Family, saying, "This is a review of a self-published, children's picture book."

Sarah presents Picture Books for Fall posted at In Need Of Chocolate.

Sam presents Best Children's Books. Best Kids' Books. Good Story Books and Picture Books for Children posted at Surfer Sam and Friends, saying, "The best children’s books delight, inspire, and teach. You open the world to a child when you read together. Here are good story books and picture books for children. Do you remember these favorites?

Crissa-Jean Chappell presents total constant order - I'm in the Miami Herald! posted at Crissa, saying, "Check out this Miami Herald interview and mini documentary video on my blog...in which I talk about turning the nervous energy from OCD into writing and positive energy...and a behind the scenes glimpse into my young adult novel, Total Constant Order."

Some of my young cousins have a severe peanut allergy so I was intrigued to find there were books that show children with this allergy:
Jennifer O. presents Comments From the Peanut Free Gallery: Children's Books posted at Comments From the Peanut Free Gallery.

I adore this library mouse!
Elizabeth O. Dulemba presents Coloring Page Tuesday - Library Mouse posted at dulemba.com

Here's a great roundup of reading nooks in schoolrooms around the country. I have fond memories of some favorite book nooks and chairs but none were this colorful!
Franki presents TRADING (our favorite) SPACES Round-Up posted at A Year of Reading.

Sometimes we forget children's book writers can be political animals too! Check this out:
Jonathan Calder presents Children's writers and their politics posted at Liberal England, and he says, "Hello from England".

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
Carnival of Children's Literature which will be held October 26, 2008 at The Well-Read Child using our
carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our
blog carnival index page

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fan-Girl Time: Sherwood Smith

There are a few authors whose blogs, websites, and other resources I check regularly for posts by the authors, commentary by readers and information on upcoming books. They are: Patricia Briggs, Nalini Singh, Robin D. Owens, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Linnea Sinclair, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I even belong to listservs for some authors. I note however that the only two children's or YA authors that I religiously follow are Diana Wynne Jones and Sherwood Smith.

I fell in love with Sherwood Smith recently. Years ago I bought and read her Wren books, and I enjoyed them. Then a year or so ago I stumbled across Crown Duel. It is a two book in one reprint of Crown Duel and Court Duel, with some corrections and revisions. I have to admit here that when I pick up the duology to reread, I reread Court Duel. The first book doesn't pull me in but the courtship dance between Meliara and Shevraeth in the second book always draws this eternal romantic back in. This is a YA set in a world with tree people and some magic, but the focus is politics and political intrigue, rebellion, war, and the victory of good people. At some point I found out Sherwood Smith had a website and some stories up on that website. In her bibliography she listed more books, including Inda, an adult fantasy set in the same world, Sartorias-deles, as Crown Duel, only centuries earlier. Off I went to the book store. I gobbled up that book then began buying and downloading all available Sherwood Smith books I could get my hands on.

As a historian, what enchants me about these books is the sense of history and place. She has been writing stories set in this world since she was eight years old, i.e. for nearly 50 years and the depth and richness of her knowledge of this world and its thousands of years of history gleams throughout her books. She contributes regular comments, hints and stories about her characters and world to the Athanarel board. The stories are found in archived posts here (warning: you will have to join LiveJournal and Athanarel in order to read them, but they are worth it!). Sherwood Smith's fans have put together a Wiki for her world, Sartorias-deles, that is well-worth exploring though full of spoilers.

For years she has not found much of a market for her work but suddenly this year are available in the bookstores, the adult fantasy books The Fox and King's Shield, sequels to Inda. The fourth and last book is due out next year from DAW, Treason's Shore. Available online from Samhain Publishing are YA books, Once a Princess and Twice a Prince. They are available as ebooks and will be out in paper next year. I generally do not read ebooks but for Sherwood Smith, I went and downloaded them. Just out in print, also from Samhain, is The Trouble With Kings. Another press, Norilana Books has published A Posse of Princesses, which is set in the world of the Wren books (note to self, need to find my copies!) and A Stranger to Command in hardback. Other books are available from Norilana or through Internet booksellers. A full bibliography is here.

Now, for a newcomer to Sherwood Smith, I think I would recommend reading Crown Duel first then its prequel A Stranger to Command. Both are wonderful stories with very real characters with thoughts, emotions and reactions to complicated life situations in the midst of political events all around them. And yes, the main characters are teenagers and very realistic teenagers at that. Even the Inda books center around teenagers. Sherwood Smith understands people at all stages of life and conveys their thoughts, emotions and reactions believably. Add to this an incredibly complex world with villains, heroes, ordinary people, all of whom might be good or bad at different times and have their reasons for what they do to other people. Oh, just go pick up one of her books and start reading!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves and Other Thoughts

My father who collects poetry books and records poetry readings throughout Chicago recently gave me some children's poetry books. One of them was Gwendolyn Brooks' The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves or What You Are You Are (Chicago: Third World Press, 1974). It's a first edition, third printing. The collector in me was thrilled. I sat down to read the book and fell in love with both the illustrations and the poem. It's a wonderful poem to read aloud. I found a page where you can listen to Ms. Brooks reading it aloud. You need to scroll down to the bottom of the page, which gives the text of the poem and click on the audio to hear her read the poem. Incidentally the page promotes the wonderful book by Elise Paschen, Poetry Speaks to Children (SourceBooks, 2005). It's available from the publisher here and has a CD with 73 poets reading their own poetry.

Now, I've been reading books about the history of African-American children's literature and have others on my enormous to-be-read pile, but had not heard of this book. The books which I've been reading and thoroughly recommend are: Michelle H. Martin's Brown Gold: Milestones of African American Children's Picture Books 1845-2002 (New York: Routledge, 2002; and Rudine Sims Bishop's Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African-American Children's Literature (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007).

They are both highly readable and available for purchase or for recommendation to your local library for purchase here and here. The Bishop book is also available in hardback from Greenwood.

Both books only mention Gwendolyn Brooks' first book for children, Bronzeville Boys and Girls (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1956). It is a collection of poetry about children living in Bronzeville, which is a historic black neighborhood in Chicago that is currently being revitalized. It was a very early children's book by a African-American author for a major publisher. However, the publisher chose the illustrator Ronni Solbert who illustrated it with pictures of white children. Her papers are at the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota and it might be interesting to look at the original art someday. Here is the cover for the 1956 book. No African-American children. It may be one of the reasons why Brooks later chose to publish only with independent African-American and multicultural publishing houses.

Next to it is the cover for the new edition of Bronzeville Boys and Girls (New York: HarperCollins, 2006). This time it is illustrated with images of African-American children by the well-known African-American illustrator and author Faith Ringgold. It's buried somewhere in my to-be-read pile or I'd say more about the book. What interests me is that while both Martin and Bishop point to this book as significant in the history of African-American children's literature, they do not mention the other two children's books Brooks wrote. I rather suspect it is because they were published with independent publishers and scarce in the libraries where they did their research. The second children's book Brooks wrote was Aloneness (Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971). It is still available from the press here.

I couldn't track down very much information about this book but may order it from the press since my curiosity has been sparked. Digging about for information on The Tiger Wore White Gloves, I found a discussion of it in D.H. Melhem's Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry & The Heroic Voice on GoogleBooks in a partial view. It stated that the book was dedicated to Brooks' children Henry and Nora Blakely. This led me to check the Chicago Tribune's historical archives through my free university access. They can also be searched at the newspaper's website and articles downloaded for a small fee. I found an article by Robert Wolf, "A poet and her daughter keep an eye on 'The Tiger'" (July 18, 1986), p. N_A4. Nora Blakely founded a children's theater company, Chocolate Chips Theatre Company, and wrote a play based on her mother's poem. That company still exists and was performing that play during its 25th season (2007-2008). I wish I could see the play someday.

In the article Blakely explained the genesis of the poem: "The poem was originally written about me. When I was a kid I went out in a Halloween costume one year dressed as a tiger, and I came back in and put on white gloves, 'cause I didn't think that the costume was enough, and I wanted to do something else with it. And after my mother got up off the floor from laughing, she wrote a poem about it. And several years later I wrote a musical based around the poem."

The book is about how a tiger wanted to be different and bought white gloves to wear, but the ridicule of the other jungle animals persuaded him to reluctantly discard them. One can either view it as a sad submission to group conformity or as a protest against African-Americans putting on symbols of whiteness. I wonder if the complexity of possible interpretations may be why scholars have not discussed this book. Are they uncomfortable with it? Brooks apparently felt the book was about improving children's self-esteem, telling them it was okay to be who they were and Blakely's play is also about how the tiger improves his self-esteem.

It's a beautiful and fun book and it is still available from the publisher here. I urge anyone who reads this blog post to go find a copy and discover this unknown treasure of African-American children's literature.

For more information on Gwendolyn Brooks see the Poetry Foundation's entry on her. Her papers are not in Chicago but rather at the University of California Berkeley. This article has a wonderful photograph of a very young Brooks. There's also a very detailed finding aid for the papers.