Friday, March 18, 2011

Ruth Manning-Sanders helped kids in classrooms

I first discovered the books of Ruth Manning-Sanders at the W. B. Konkle Memorial Library1 in Montoursville in the early 1980s. I would check out "A Book of Wizards", "A Book of Giants", "A Book of Dragons" and the other available Manning-Sanders fairy-tale compilations over and over. The stories from around the world, accompanied by Robin Jacques' wonderful illustrations, captured my imagination. (And still do.)

I now have more than 50 books by Manning-Sanders in my collection, and I'm always keeping an eye out for oddities and other interesting items.

I recently acquired the thin volume pictured at the top of today's entry through an online auction.2 Simply titled "Ghosts and Goblins", it's a 32-page paperback published in 1972 by Science Research Associates and Western Publishing Company. It contains three complete stories from Manning-Sanders' 1968 hardcover "A Book of Ghosts and Goblins" (the cover of which is pictured at right). The tales are "A Box on the Ear", "Golden Hair" and "The Cook and the House Goblin".3 For this edition, the illustrations are by Mel Klapholz, and they are excellent.

Science Research Associates (SRA) was founded in 1938 and continues to publish educational materials and schoolroom reading comprehension products. Among its best-known and most widely used products is the SRA Reading Laboratory Kit. ("Ghosts and Goblins" is indicated as volume #62 in the SRA Pilot Library Ic.)

For almost a quarter-century, from 1964 to 1988, SRA was a subsidiary of IBM. About a decade ago, it was purchased by McGraw-Hill and is now called SRA/McGraw-Hill.

So, Manning-Sanders' fairy tales once helped students learn reading, vocabulary and reading comprehension in the classroom. Pretty cool.

1. I was pleased to discover that Konkle Memorial Library still has two books by Manning-Sanders in its Children's Room -- "A Book of Spooks and Spectres" and "A Book of Ogres and Trolls". It's not common to find libraries that have many of her books in circulation. I hope they can be preserved for future generations or, better yet, reissued by another publishing house.
2. Not surprisingly, I was the only bidder.
3. The full book includes 21 tales, including "The Goblins at the Bath House" and "The Leg of Gold", a variation on the familiar campfire tale in which a ghost reclaims its lost property. (Other times, it's a golden arm or hand.) Manning-Sanders' version ends with a punch line that's especially great for oral storytellers.

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