Children's Books 1920-1929
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed (1920) The Story of Doctor Dolittle was the first story published by Lofting involving his famous physician who could talk to animals. Lofting created the character of Dr. Dolittle while in the trenches fighting for the British in World War I - between 1914 and 1918. Not wanting to write to his children about the war he illustrated fanciful letters to them involving the Doctor and his adventures. After being injured in the war and moving to Connecticut in the United States, Lofting developed the character into stories and began publishing them, eventually publishing ten books during his life and two more posthumously. The sequel to The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922) won the second ever awarded Newbery Medal in 1933. The Story of Doctor Dolittle fell out of favor around the 1970s because of overtly racist material in the books. Recent reprints of the stories have added to the controversy because any mention of race or color is taken out, including a story in the original book about a African Prince wishing to be turned white in order to marry 'Sleeping Beauty.'
The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon
The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon was published in 1921 and was the first book awarded the Newbery Award, which goes to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The Story of Mankind was a history of Western Civilization targeted toward children. Van Loon illustrated the book himself and updated it during his lifetime. Subsequent updates have been done by his son and others, and the book remains a popular title. The book covers art, architecture, writing, religion, and government, along with personal anecdotes.
Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real is the story of a toy rabbit who believes the wise Skin Horse in the nursery that "When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." The first printing, published in London and the US simultaneously, is notable for its chromolithographed illustrations, which were replaced by cheaper photo-mechanical reproductions in later editions. First printings are hard to identify and very rare. A first edition first printing in fine or very good condition can run into the 20k's.
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
First published simultaneously in 1923 by Frederick A. Stokes Company, NY and McClelland and Stewart, Ltd, Toronto, Emily of New Moon is the first of three Emily novels published by LM Montgomery (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942). Montgomery had previously found fame with her popular book Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908 and considered a classic of children's literature. In her lifetime Montgomery published over 20 novels, as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems and 30 essays. The Emily Series is similar to Anne of Green Gables as it involves the story of a young girl orphan growing up in Canada. Since being published Emily of New Moon has not been out of print, with various editions available on the market. Signed first editions go for $1000-$2000 and feature an illustrated frontispiece in color by M.L. Kirk.
The Box-Car Children by Gertrude Chandler WarnerFirst published in 1924 by Rand McNally, Warner's tale of four industrious orphans living just outside of society in a boxcar echoed the ideals of American capitalism on the cusp of the Great Depression. Aimed at readers in grades 2 - 6, the series now contains over 150 titles. Gertrude Chandler Warner, a first grade teacher, wrote the first 19 titles of the series before passing away. The 1924 editions are incredibly scarce. In 1942 The Boxcar Children was completely rewritten and re-released, making the 1942 a true 1st edition as well as the 1924 (the 1942 version had no hyphen in the title). The 1942 was made shorter, and the author limited herself to 600 vocabulary words in order to make the text easier for children to read and enjoy on their own. In 1950 there was a slight revision of the 42 version, so the 1950 is considered a second printing of the 1942 first edition. The 1924 version has 4 color-plate illustrations by Dorothy Lake Gregory, where the later versions are black and white. The original printing was also housed in a white illustrated box.
Tales from Silver Lands by Charles J Finger
Tales from Silver Lands is a collection of 19 folk and fairy tales from Central and South America that won the Newberry Award for outstanding children's literature in 1925. Collected during Finger's travels, this book was one of the first to bring tales of South America to children in the United States. First (and later) editions feature 10 full-page woodcuts in color and decorations by Paul Honore throughout the book.
The School at the Chalet by Elinor M Brent-DyerThe School at Chalet was published in 1925 by W. & R. Chambers and written by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. This is the first book in a series of 60 about the Chalet School that was published between 1925 and 1970. The school featured in the books had to move multiple times because of the rise of Nazi power: The first school was located in Austrian Tyrol which was occupied, as was the later location of Guernsey. It also moved to Herefordshire, a fictional island off of Wales, and finally settled in Switzerland. The first edition was illustrated by Nina K Brisley.
Winnie The Pooh by A. A. Milne
Following the printing of Milne's When We Were Very Young in 1924, the first book starring the famous bear, Winnie the Pooh, was printed in 1926 by Methuen in London, and illustrated by E.H. Shepard.
30,000 copies were printed in green cloth with an orange jacket (only 5,000 copies of When We Were Very Young were first printed). First editions identified by stated "First Printing 1926" with no other mention of editions. Other collectible editions include an edition limited to 350 numbered copies signed by the author and illustrator, listed for around $16,000, and a super limited signed edition cased in vellum - limited to 20 copies, which are seen on the market at over $50,000.
The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure by Franklin W Dixon
The Tower Treasure was the first mystery book published for children and teens. Frank and Joe Hardy, teenage brothers and amateur sleuths, were created by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the book-packaging firm the Stratemeyer Syndicate who also produced such series as the Nancy Drew Mysteries (after the success of The Hardy Boys) and The Bobbsey Twins. Like the other Stratemeyer series, the books were written by multiple ghostwriters under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon. The first three books in the series were published in 1927 and were immediately successful, selling 115,000 copies by mid-1929.
Over the years The Hardy Boys series have continued under multiple names and evolving characters, ditching racial stereotypes (of which there were numerous offenses), murder, violence, and international espionage. In 1958 the series was revised to make it shorter, easier to read, more cost-effective to publish, and more current. The first 58 stories are considered to be the canon. The series continues to be popular, selling over a million books a year, with almost 500 titles to date.
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
Written and illustrated by Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats is one of just a few pictures books that have won the Newbery Honor Award. The tale about a lonely old man and woman who end up with millions of cats is the oldest American picture book still in print.
Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
Hitty Her First Hundred Years is a memoir written in the voice of a doll, Mehitabel, or Hitty for short. Hitty was constructed in 1822 from the wood of a Mountain Ash tree from Ireland by a peddler stranded during a winter storm at a house in Maine. After giving the doll to Phoebe, the young daughter of the house, Hitty embarks on many adventures throughout the world, meeting many interesting people along the way.
The adventures of Hitty were inspired by a doll purchased by the author, Rachel Fields, which now resides at the Stockbridge Library Association in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Hitty was first published by MacMIllan in 1929, and was awarded the Newbery Medal for Excellence in 1930. First editions and later early printings are in red decorative cloth, illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop with 3 color plates, but many full page and in-text black and white illustrations.
Hitty was rewritten by Susan Jeffers and Rosemary Wells in 1999, updated, simplified, and released as Rachel Field's Hitty, and with an addition of the doll's experiences during the American Civil War.
Little Blacknose by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift
Little Blacknose: The Story of a Pioneer is a children's book written by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift and published in 1929. The first edition was illustrated by Lynn Ward. The book, subtitled The Story of a Pioneer, received a Newbery Honor award in 1930.
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Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.