Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spooky '70s title for kids from Scholastic Book Services

This time last year, I was in the midst of putting together a countdown of my 25 favorite Scholastic Book Services covers (among the ones I had ones I had on my shelves).

There were some amusingly haunting ones along the way — #17 was Mystery of The Haunted Pool, #14 was Carmilla, #13 was The Witch House and Other Tales Our Settlers Told, #11 was Nine Witch Tales, and #2 was The Ghost that Came Alive.

Now I have a few more spook-a-riffic titles on hand, and I will be weaving them into the Fortnight of Mild Fear.

First up is A Ghost a Witch and a Goblin, which is the comma-free title of a 48-page paperback first issued by Scholastic in 1970. (The fifth printing, from 1973, is shown here.) This is a very fun cover! Like Sunday's postcard, it includes a tree with a face and some red mushrooms. Add in a ghost and an owl and you have a dandy October book for schoolchildren.

The illustrations were done by Rosalind Fry, and, sadly, I can't find any confirmed biographical information about her online. ("Mystery artists" were an all-too-common theme during last year's Scholastic Fest countdown.) I did find a Rosalind Betty "Roz" Fry, who lived from 1915 to 2013, but that short obituary mentions only her church office work and that she was "very active with the craft fair." There are no mentions of being a published, professional illustrator. So it's not clear whether that's the Fry we're looking for.

Fry's books were published in the 1960s and 1970s. Her other titles include Three Giant Stories, Lost at the Fair, The Three Wishes, Tree for Rent, A Baby Starts to Grow, and Is This My Dinner?

The book's three folk tales, meanwhile, are reworked versions from other sources, likely making this a very inexpensive production for Scholastic. (I hope Fry received a nice check!) The last page of the book lists these sources:

  • "The Ghost Catcher" is based on "The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Being Bagged," a story from Folk Tales of Bengal by Lālavihārī De, published by Macmillan, London, 1883.1
  • "Baba Yaga" is translated and adapted by permission of Flammarion et Cie from BABA YAGA (a "Père Castor" book), retold by Rose Celli, copyright 1932 by Ernest Flammarion, Paris.
  • "The Goblin and the Tailor" is based on "The Sprightly Tailor," in Joseph Jacobs' collection, Celtic Fairy Tales published by David Nutt, London, 1892.

1. The "modern" English spelling of Lālavihārī De is Lal Behari Dey. He lived from 1824 to 1892 and was a a Bengali Indian journalist and Christian missionary.

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