Score the Cotsen Challenge: How Many Characters Did You Identify Correctly?

The day of reckoning is here… Luckily your future isn’t riding on it!

PICTURE NUMBER ONE

A is Aladdin the poor widow’s son; / With his Wonderful Lamp a fair princess he won./

B’s for Blue Beard, without pity the least;/ And also for Beauty, who saved the poor Beast.

C’s Cinderella, who fled from the ball,/ When the Prince found her pretty glass slipper so small.

D is Dick Whittington; Bow Bells rang out–/ “Thrice Lord Mayor of London,:” and ended his doubt.
 PICTURE NUMBER TWO

E’s for the Elves, little mischievous wights,/ That dance with the Fairies on fine moonlight nights.

F is the famous Forty Thieves: in a tree/ Ali Baba’s concealed, and their doings can see.

G’s Goody Two-Shoes, a kind little maid,/ Who gave poor dumb creatures protection and aid.

H House that Jack built. Or, take which best suits,/ Here is Hop o’ My Thumb with his Seven-League Boots.

PICTURE NUMBER THREE

I is the Ice-Maiden, haughty and cold,/ And J is for Jack, who slew Giants of Old.

K is King Arthur: with him will be found/ The twelve gallent Knights of the famed Table Round.

L is for Little Bo-Peep.  Sad mishap! She lost all her sheep while just taking a nap.

M, Mother Goose, you may easily spy,/ On the back of her Gander she mounts to the sky!

PICTURE NUMBER FOUR

N’s Number Nip, a wee Gnome full of tricks; / He made a man ride on a bundle of sticks!

O is for Old Mother Hubbard–see how/ “The Dame made a curtsey, the Dog made a bow!”

P’s Puss in Boots, with his bag full of game,/ Whose Master the Princess’s husband became.

Q Queen of Hearts is; the Knave stole her tarts,/ But the King caught him at it, and so the Knave smarts!

Our challenge was extracted from Routledge’s Coloured ABC Book, which would have been marketed as a “picture book.”    In  mid-nineteenth century children’s book publishing, this meant  a collection of four to six previously published toy books bound up in a fancy pictorial cloth binding.  It was a way for enterprising publishers to repackage content attractively.

Routledge’s Coloured A B C Book: Containing Alphabet of Fairy Tales. Farm-yard Alphabet. Alphabet of Flowers. Tom Thumb’s Alphabet. With twenty-four pages of illustrations by Kronheim and others. (London: George Routledge and Sons, ca 1868) Cotsen 9761.

Alphabet of Fairy Tales, the first toy book listed on the table of contents on the picture book’s title page, was the source of the puzzle pictures and the accompanying doggerel.  Unfortunately, the identify of the author and illustrator remain a secret, because all the Routledge toy books printed up by Kronheim never identified the personnel responsible for them.  Another puzzle for some eager researcher looking for a different kind of challenge.

 

The Newbery Books Anna Green Winslow Read 1771-3

Anna Green Winslow, America’s most famous child diariest, wrote journal letters regularly to her parents in between 1771 and 1773 when she was living in Boston with her paternal aunt Mrs. Deming.   Her loyalist father, the commissary to the British regiments in Cumberland, Canada, sent his only daughter away from home to be “finished”–that is, to improve her penmanship at Samuel Holbrook’s writing school and to to become more adept at plain and fancy work at a sewing school.  Luckily, twelve-year-old Anna liked her pen and her needle equally well and won praise for her pretty writing, her knitted lace, and her spinning.  Calling herself a “whimsical girl,” she recorded jokes that made her laugh.  But she also listened attentively to  sermons Sundays in the Old South Church congregation and could summarize the minister’s argument clearly and accurately. Of course, she liked clothes and “tasty headdresses.”  Early in her stay, she begged her mother to let her “look like other people,” that is, follow Boston fashions.

Anna was a avid reader as well, attending to her Bible, the newspapers, and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  Alice Earle Morse, who edited Anna’s diary in the 1890s, recognized the titles of several Newbery children’s books imported from London.  Anna didn’t say much about their contents, so illustrating them with pages from the copies in Cotsen brings her reading experiences to life.

For New Year’s in 1772, she notes that she received a copy of the “History of Joseph Andrews abbreviated,” that is, the abridgment of Henry Fielding’s famous novel published by Francis Newbery.  “In nice Guilt and flowers covers” she says approvingly.  Here is the title page and the binding in Dutch gilt papers (it is actually the binding on the Gulliver below, which is much nicer than the one on the Fielding).  If you look in the gutter, you’ll see evidence of oversewing to repair a well-read copy.

It was a very cold, snowy day on March 9th, 1772 and Anna mended two pairs of gloves and a handkerchief and then finished half a border for a new lawn apron for her aunt.  She also read “part of the xxist chapter of Exodous [sic] & a story in the Mother’s gift.”  The Mother’s Gift is not one of the better known Newberys and it’s impossible to tell which edition she had without any titles of the stories (it came in a two- and a three-part version).   It does include one about a girl who thought too much about her clothes and maybe Anna recognized herself in that character.

On April 16th, she dined at Aunt Storer’s, where her cousin Charles loaned her “Gulliver’s Travels abbreviated,” another Newbery abridgment of a work originally written for adults.   Anna reports that her aunt gave her permission to read it “for the same of perfecting myself in reading a variety of composures [probably compositions].  She said farther that the piece was desin’d as a burlesque upon the times in which it was wrote.”  Anna’s spelling mistakes have been retained, by the way.She went to “drink tea” at Aunt Storer’s on April 24th.  Her aunt loaned her three more of her cousin’s books, which is a bit droll, as cousin Charles was barely a year old.  This is what he had in his infant library: The Puzzling Cap, a riddle book; The Little Female Orators, an anthology of short fiction, and “Gaffer Two-Shoes” which was a sequel to The History of Goody Two-Shoes published by one of Newbery’s rivals (the only surviving copy is at the Lilly Library at Indiana University)  Anna might have liked solving the riddles about the  writing slate and stays, even though the only underwear she mentions in the diary are her shifts.In The Little Female Orators, she might have nodded approvingly at the two ladies warming themselves in front of a nice fire, especially because winter that year was especially bitter.  Sometimes the snow was so deep that Anna had to be carried home from writing or sewing school.Being mighty proud of her footware, whether decorated with pom-poms or marcasite buckles, Anna must have rejoiced with little Margery Meanwell when she received a new pair of shoes, which meant she no longer had to go barefoot.Surely this illustrated survey of the books Anna enjoyed dispels the hoary myth that Puritan children were deprived of entertaining reading!