Published: November 4, 2015
By Anne Kugielsky
Collecting Children’s Books: Art, Memories, Values by Noah Fleisher and Lauren Zittle; Krause Publications, a division of F+W Media, Inc, www.krausebooks.com, 2015; hardcover, 224 pages, $26.99.
Showcasing and reflecting on some of the finest children’s books and accompanying artwork from 1900 to the present, husband and wife team Noah Fleisher and Lauren Zittle present Collecting Children’s Books: Art, Memories, Values, a new book on loving and collecting children’s books.
Krause Publications has published this charming and perfectly sized (8 by 8 inches) new hardcover volume that presents some of the finest books, illustrations and accompanying artwork in children’s books in a warm, informative and lovely fashion — reminding us all of the joy found in this transcendent genre.
From Winnie-the-Pooh to Curious George, Alice in Wonderland to Mary Poppins, and from The Poky Little Puppy to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the book is a treasure trove of remarkable — and highly collectible — children’s literature.
“The world of children’s books is such a rich and wonderful subject,” said co-author Fleisher, who also serves as the editor of Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide and is public relations director at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. “We jumped at the chance to write it when we were asked. What we’ve striven to create with this overview, while knowing there’s so much more to uncover, is a celebration of the books we all loved as kids and which we all love reading to our own children and grandchildren… It was a true labor of love.”
The authors took their practical knowledge of children’s books, gained as parents and remembered from childhood, and combined it with the world of antiques and collectibles, with which they are intimately involved. They look at the great authors and illustrators, the unforgettable works, the art and minds of the creators and then provide the up-to-date values as seen in online offerings and gems of auction lore.
The book explores the significant value that some first edition books and original art can carry, likely sending readers running for their bookshelves or those boxes in the garage where they stored their old children’s books. For instance: a first edition of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are sold at auction for $8,400, while Garth Williams’ original Charlotte’s Web book cover illustration went for the jaw-dropping price of $155,350 at auction. First editions of classic like Curious George can net strong five figure prices realized, such as the copy that is shown in the book, which sold for $26,290.
But this is not just about how much the books might sell for — this handy-sized hardcover features short author/illustrator biographies, wonderful illustrations, a guide to what to look for (and beware of) when buying a collector book, as well as recent prices for a myriad of books and why they brought that price. “What it is at its heart, besides a trip through time and childhood, is a book about collecting…. Pursuing something because it speaks to you.”
But, happily, this is a personal book, too. Both Fleisher and Zittle have written short essays on their personal relationship with children’s books, and how being parents led them to writing this book. Nor are they hesitant to give their opinions about books or authors. For example, when writing about the “amazing illustrator and author” Robert McCloskey, they said, “The most endearing of these books, Make Way for Ducklings, is still completely charming, though we have to admit that Blueberries for Sal is our favorite, with its lovely little protagonist, its idyllic setting and its delightful conclusion.”
The book is for the book lover, collector, parent, grandparent and— who have we left out? — for everyone who has ever read and loved a children’s book — which makes pretty much all of us.
“These books have delighted generations of the young and the young at heart with amazing adventure, timeless storytelling and incredible illustrations that remain indelibly inked on the brains of readers,” said co-author Zittle.
Collecting Children’s Books: Art, Memories, Values has several chapters on early books, which are insightful for pre-war books; it covers books up to and including those published in 2015, and a special chapter reviews books for very young children. An appendix on Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal winners and the section on collector resources and the index assist in facilitating searches.
This is a fresh, intimate and well-researched book that warms the heart, reminds us of our favorites and also opens the book on collecting. It is an entrée into the marketplace through one organ that needs to be involved, the heart, and it speaks to the other organ that should be consulted, the head.
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