I’ve become quite ruthless at weeding. Aesthetics are all important in my ‘new’ library and shelves packed tight with books that kids will never choose to check out, hiding the gems among them, are a thing of the past. The days of sentimentality are over.
If it’s beat-up and dirty, if it hasn’t circulated in years, if the content is dated…it’s gone. Teachers get the first pick, then a cart goes in the hall for students to choose from for their home libraries. After that it’s to the recycling or sadly the dump – but I’m still stockpiling at the moment in hopes of finding a teacher who will use them for art projects.
Every now and again I run across an old gem like this one by Randolph Caldecott, for whom the Caldecott awards were named. It was first published in 1878. My copy, of course, sports an old barcode and spine label and someone, years ago mended the spine with heavy blue book binding tape. It may not appeal to the modern child’s taste for flash and brilliance, but I love it and running across in while shelving is a little treat in a day.
It is staying in the collection. Just because. If you are not lucky enough to have a copy in your collection, you can enjoy the entire book yourself at Project Gutenberg.
Of course I have a more modern version by Simms Taback, a Caldecott honor winner himself, although not for this book. Sadly, Taback passed away this past Christmas Day at 79 years of age, leaving a body of work that just screams, “Be Happy!”.
I have used both together to compare illustrators and talk about individual style. I’ve also had fun comparing them with copycat-patterned books by Shirley Neitzel.
What versions of this favourite exemplar of the cumulative pattern or other adaptations of The House that Jack Built can you recommend?
UPDATE: January 26, 2012 Two More Patterned on The House That Jack Built