June 29, 2010

Wait, Ruth Krauss And Mary Blair??

blair_krauss_i_can_fly.jpg

So while we're busy poking around the early work of Ruth Krauss, it turns out she did a Little Golden Book with none other than legendary Disney artist Mary Blair. Maybe if I'd been a little girl at some point in my life I would have known this. As a dad of two little girls, I feel like I'm behind the curve.

Published in 1951, I Can Fly is basically Blair's awesomely sweet illustrations of Krauss's series of rhyming couplets ["Birds can fly./ So can I."] Surf around a bit, and you'll find that Blairheads have scanned plenty of the beautiful spreads.

[Which look a lot like the artwork Blair turned in a couple of years later for The Golden Book Of Little Verses. [For what it's worth, I've mellowed a bit since fragging Miriam Clark Potter's poems a few years ago. They're fine, and through repeated reading, you can find their individual rhythms to make them work.] Look at that, nested brackets!]

blair_krauss_66_abridged.jpg

Anyway, the trick with I Can Fly is in buying the right edition. The original 1951 edition [top] had 48 pages. A 1966 Weekly Reader edition [above] which, hello, she's not even flying, she's just walking along the grass with her hands up, reportedly had 31 pages. Abebooks has a ton of used copies available, but most of them are reissues from either 1992 or 2003 [below, look for the "Classic" label in the corner]. According to peeved Amazon reviewers, these editions only have 24 pages, and don't include many of the rhymes mentioned in the product description.

blair_krauss_92_03.jpg

Is half a Krauss/Blair colabo better than none? Absolutely. But if you're hoping to re-create some formative bookreading memory of your own for your kid, you'll want to shop carefully.

Check the other editions links, though: I CAN FLY Hardcover, 2003 reissue, abridged [amazon]
Stuart Ng Books has that 1st edition pictured above for $35 [stuartngbooks.com]

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