Sunday, December 29, 2013

1936's "Albanian Wonder Tales": Frontispiece and endpapers

Here are a couple of delightful illustrations from 1936's Albanian Wonder Tales, which was written by Post Wheeler (pictured at right) and illustrated by influential children's book artists Maud and Miska Petersham.1

The book, which is dedicated to Prince Essad Kryeziu, contains 10 folk tales, including "The Princess Who Had the Silver Tooth," "The Girl Who Took a Snake For Husband," "The Boy Who Took the Letter to the World Where the Dead Live," and "The Boy Who Killed the Dif."2

Although Wheeler, a diplomat and journalist, was not best known for his folk-tale collections, he did put together a few others, including:
  • Tales from the Japanese Storytellers As Collected in the Ho-Dan Zo
  • Hawaiian Wonder Tales
  • Russian Wonder Tales

Russian Wonder Tales, first published in 1912 and republished numerous times thereafter, is probably the most notable of his folk-tale books, as it contains illustrations by famed Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin.

Getting back to Albanian Wonder Tales, here is the endpapers' illustration.

1. Per Wikipedia, Maud Fuller Petersham (1890-1971) and Miska Petersham (1888-1960) "helped set the direction for illustrated children's books as known today. ... They worked as a seamless partnership for more than five decades. Both prolific and versatile, they produced illustrations for more than 120 trade and textbooks, anthologies, and picture books. ... [And] they are known for technical excellence, exuberant color, and the introduction of international folk and modernist themes."
2. Difs are described in the story as being "giants four yards tall, eaters of human flesh, which live on high mountains or in the Underworld — whence they come forth into the white world through hidden wells in the forests."

1 comment:

  1. Wheeler was a member of The Pilgrims Society, which constuitutes the secret "Senate" of the world's big rich, as conceived by Cecil Rhodes in the 1870s to be "a secret society gradually absorbing the wealth of the world" (Review of Reviews, May 1902, pp556-558.