Illustration Purist

Writing about the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth reminded me that I get a lot of crap for being a big stickler regarding the illustrations in children’s books. I can’t help it. Children’s literature is often so image-dependent that the illustrations in the original edition are as important as the text. While I have yet to see a version of the Phantom Tollbooth without the Jules Feiffer illustrations, I’ve had to reject copies of many other books because the illustrations are wrong.

Alice in Wonderland by John Tenniel. Disney Alice is wrong. As are any other versions. That this is standard on all e-readers makes it a great benchmark text. I should note that the Ralph Steadman version of Alice brings up the single exception for my insistence a specific illustrator: if the version is being sold as another artist’s take on a classic title, I’m fine with treating it as an art book rather than literature.

Winnie the Pooh by E.H Shepard. I hate Disney Pooh. And I can’t stand the “Classic Pooh” retronym. If i see a picture of Pooh, it had better be Shepard’s vision.

The Wizard of Oz by W.W.Denslow. This needs to be in the original colors too. The original issue of Wizard was printed in two color on all pages.  The spot color in each chapter would change depending on where Dorothy was* and everything tied together perfectly with Denslow’s artwork.

*Blue in Munchinkinland, Red in Quadling Country, Green in the Emerald City, Yellow in Winkieland, and Brown in Kansas.

Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting. I love his original drawings. Even though things get a bit racist when the Doctor visits Africa.*

*But hey, it’s not as depressing or racist as the Babar books are now.

Stuart Little by Garth Williams. And Trumpet of the Swan and a bunch of other books of similar vintage.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. This book needs Kipling’s hand-drawn initial capitals for each story too. The lettering is frequently absent now.

Little House Books by Garth Williams. These get special mention because of the way the covers were recently changed. So wrong. I hope they change back to what they should be.

I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t matter. My family and friends already know to consult me about whether the illustrations are correct. And it’s probably a good thing that most books aren’t like this.

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