Little Golden Books, the Early Years

Did you grow up with Little Golden Books?

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This October, the iconic brand celebrates 75 years!

In October 1942, the New York publishing firm Simon & Schuster, the Artists and Writers Guild, and the Western Printing and Lithographing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, joined forces to create a new series of children’s books especially suited to beginning readers between the ages of 3 and 8. Inexpensive, sturdy, and child-centered, Little Golden Books represented an enormous shift in thinking about how, where, and what children should read.

High-quality, lavishly illustrated children’s books of the early 20th century were too expensive for most families to own, and generally only available in libraries and schools. When Little Golden Books were introduced, they could be purchased at bookstores and department stores. After World War II, Simon & Schuster launched a new marketing plan that featured specially designed display units and began selling books in five-and-dime chains, groceries, and drugstores. Brightly colored and priced at only 25 cents, Little Golden Books were designed to be financially and intellectually accessible to all children.

— The Smithsonian

Along with well-known titles (The Poky Little Puppy, The Shy Little Kitten, Scuffy the Tugboat and books based on popular children’s television shows), the early years also included books like:

Two Little Miners (1949), illustrated by Richard Scarry, just one in a series of books about occupations.
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Gaston and Josephine (1949), illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky, the story of two pigs that leave their homeland and sail to America.
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Doctor Dan the Bandage Man (1950), illustrated by Corinne Malvern, followed in 1952 by Nurse Nancy.
doctor_thumb    nancy d

Sorry, readers, there were no Doctor Nancy or Nurse Dan books in the early years. But Golden did publish this book for girls and boys, also illustrated by Corinne Malvern,
Susie’s New Stove (1950).
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Golden Books have come a long way since the 1940s and 50s. More about that in a future post.

Unknown-1But in the meantime, take the Little Golden Books quiz by Lorna Seilstad on the Inkspirational Messages site.
Let’s see how well you remember Little Golden Books.

 

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How a Potato Launched My Writing Career

[One of my favorite posts from 2015]

Everyone knows that potatoes have eyes—those little dimples on the skin that sprout potato plantlings—but did you know that potatoes have legs?

I remember a sunny Saturday morning when I was a kid watching my mom peel potatoes at the kitchen sink. As the sharp peeler scraped the potatoes bare, I saw Mom dig out tiny, green bumps.

“Are those warts?” I asked.

“No, they’re eyes,” said Mom.

“How come potatoes have eyes?”

“Because little potato plants grow from the eyes,” she said.

“You’re cutting off the babies? You’re killing them!”

Just then, I’d realized that a potato was a living thing, a mother with babies sprouting from her eyes! (How weird was that?) And my mom was ripping the skin off that mother potato, digging the babies out of her eyes, and throwing them away like garbage. Then she cut that mother potato into pieces and boiled her in water.

Oh, the agony of it all!
The inhumanity!

Was I being a bit dramatic?

Yes.

Did Mom suggest that I go outside and play?

She did.

But, instead I went to my room, and I wrote a story about that potato sprouting legs and running away from my evil mother. With my limited knowledge of how to put words onto paper I wrote:

POTATO LEGS

Mom try to kill her
She run away
Run Potato Legs run.
The end.        

And that’s how my writing career began. Many more stories followed “Potato Legs” and today I can’t think of any better activity than to write.

Every writer has that one eureka moment that sparks his or her need to write.

Sometimes it’s a what-if question that begs to be answered. (What if potatoes had legs?)

Other times, a tragedy needs to bleed out shedding its anger and grief. (Dave Pelzer’s “A Child Called It” comes to mind.)

The need to write might come from reading a poorly written book. (“I could write better than that!”)

Or from the desire to be heard. (Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”)

But most often, inspiration comes from encouragement. (“Hey! You should write a book!”)

How about you?
When was your eureka moment?
Why do you write?

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“Hey, Dude! Where’d That Word Come From?”

dudeHey, Dude, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better . . .

If you recognized those as the first words of a popular Beatles song, then you likely spotted the error. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote  Hey Jude to comfort Lennon’s young son, Julian, during Lennon’s divorce from Julian’s mother, Cynthia—ancient history! Had they written Hey Jude today, they might have called it “Hey Dude!”

The word “dude” pops up everywhere these days.

In America, it first became popular in the 19th century when it described fashion-conscious men who dressed and acted like wealthy Europeans.

“Hey, look at that dude!”

EKD_18th Century Fashion Plate 108From the New-York Mirror of February 24, 1883:

“. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. …

As the American West evolved and Easterners, “city slickers”, moved west, the word “dude” described a man from the city, clueless about country life.

By the early 20th century, former dudes saw a business opportunity providing vacationing dudes from the East with a country/cowboy experience, and the term “dude ranch” was born.

Fast-forward through the first half of the 20th century to the early 1960s, and you’ll find the word attributed to someone carefree and laid back. “Surfer dudes” hung out all day at beaches working on their tans and riding the waves.

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This casual, laid back image of a “dude” persisted throughout the 20th century, mostly used by guys to greet and refer to each other in an informal way.

Then in the 21st century, the word came full circle and regained the same level of popularity it had in the early 1800s. Today everyone uses it, men, women, kids . . .

Dude. Dude? Dude!!!

What does it mean?
Is it a statement? A question? An exclamation?
You decide.

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