A New Gallery Brochure about Puss in Boots Coming This Fall

The pamphlet Cinderella in the Cotsen Children’s Library has been out of print for some years and there have been requests for a new one on another classic fairy tale.  But which one?  Sleeping Beauty?  Too passive.   Blue Beard?  Too violent.  Ditto Little Thumb.   Riquet with the Tuft?  Too obscure.   Donkey  Skin? Too kinky.   That left the cleverest cat of all, Puss in Boots.

The selection of pictures will not come from the ones on display in the current exhibition, “Most Masterful Cat.”  Here are a few illustrations of Puss that may be new to you.   They may or may make the final cut.

Here he is trudging down the road to the King’s palace, with the gift of a nice fat rabbit slung over his shoulder.  The illustrator is Edmond Morin, whose book about the hard life dolls lead was the subject of  another post.

One of my favorite illustrations of Puss shows a rather chubby, furry tom cat hunting for  quail, which were also to be presented to the king.  This beautifully observed picture is by the great German 19th-century artist Otto Speckter.  Wearing boots must disturb the cat’s concentration while hunting.  It is one of two quite different versions of the same scene, both of which I love.There are many wonderful pictures of Puss after his elevation for service to the crown.   This one by Harrison Weir  imagines him as an elegant but swaggering courtier.  No wonder the ladies can’t keep their eyes off of him.  Obviously being waited upon by them is much more amusing than catching mice around the palace.Until the pamphlet goes out on the shelves of the bookcase in the gallery entrance, there’s some consolation for cat lovers  here.

 

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.