Friday, February 24, 2012

COLLECTION #172: Children of Foreign Lands

I love a good mystery! And these little books are not mysterious at all on their face, but I think I've found a little mystery anyway. 

Sometimes I don't realize exactly what I have until I start researching. These adorable children's books, from the 1930s, got me scratching my head a little bit. Although these books about children from other lands aren't specifically school books, they were often used in the classroom as supplemental reading material, and were considered educational. Published by Platt & Munk, with copyright dates from 1935 to 1942, they were  illustrated by Roger Vernam and Ninon MacNight. There are two hard-bound books: Children of Foreign Lands, written by Elizabeth F. McCrady, and Eight Little Indians, written by Josephine Lovell.

 The Children of Foreign Lands hardbound book contains 8 stories of different children from, you guessed it, many lands! I also have a sweet boxed set, which contains soft bound individual books of the exact same stories. The boxed set and hardbound book were not sold together.  The stories are: Abdul of Arabia, Ching Ling and Ting Ling, Wilhelmina of Holland, Maria and Carlos of Spain, Olga of Norway, Chula of Siam, Manuel of Mexico, and Kala of Hawaii. It's interesting how much geography has changed in just the past 70 years or so- at that time Hawaii was not a state of the US (it was a territory),  there was a country called Arabia, and Thailand was called Siam.
From Ching Ling and Ting Ling

From Wilhelmina of Holland

The Eight Little Indians book, also has 8 stories (which is a play on the old children's rote song "Ten Little Indians"), each story is about a different Indian child of North America, representing different tribes. I also have a soft bound book called Morning Star, A Little Pueblo Girl.  There must also have been a boxed set of these books too, but I have yet to find them. I have found all eight volumes of the small books online, just not the actual boxed set.
From Gray Bird- A Little Plains Indian
When I opened my box today to photograph and document the volumes, I discovered that there were actually 9 books inside. (The original 8, plus the Morning Star volume). So I went online to see what I could figure out about these books, and I discovered that there was a boxed set available that included one book that mine did not. But what was it? Obviously Morning Star didn't belong, but that still left 8. The box says 8. I was a bit puzzled. So what was this mystery book? I discovered that one volume was titled Matsu and Taro of Japan. Hmmmm. So which was the extra one? It seems that the earliest editions of this boxed set included Matsu & Taro, and did not have Manuel of Mexico. But why would this have been? The copyright date on the Manuel volume was 1942, while the other ones were 1935, 1936 and 1937. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to surmise that what had changed was in 1942, the United States was at war with Japan. Perhaps during those years, they substituted Manuel for Matsu due to sensitivity to American's feelings toward Japan.
From Manuel of Mexico
The one thing that puzzles me, is that the hardbound book of Children of Foreign Lands has a copyright of 1936 and 1936, and contains the Manuel story. This was long before the War, so I can't see why Matsu and Taro was not included.  The other thing about the Manuel book, is that it is poorly illustrated, and no signature can be found on the illustrations, unlike all the other books. Perhaps this book was hastily added to the set and hardbound book, without changing the copyright date of the book. It's a little mystery to me. Not earthshattering, but curious.

1 comment:

Kim said...

I have a boxed set of Children of Foreign Lands too! I have very clear memories of reading these books over and over when I was about 6. Somewhere along the way and across many miles, the books were lost, but I found a set online several years ago.

Seeing your collection reminded me that I also must have owned the other (Indians) boxed set as well, because it sure jogged my memory!

Thanks for sharing! This was fun.