Saturday, August 5, 2017

Scholastic book cover:
"Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians"

  • Title: Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians
  • Author: Mary Nash (born 1925)
  • Illustrator: Garrett Price (1896-1979)
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (TX 1654)
  • Cover price: 60 cents
  • Year: First printing, November 1970 [book first published in 1960]
  • Pages: 144
  • Format: Paperback
  • First sentence: Mrs. Coverlet, the Persevers' white-haired housekeeper, sat down a savory roast before the three children for supper.
  • Last sentence: But the six cats, sitting in a respectful row, looked up at their master and believed every word he said.
  • Random sentence from middle: "For making a willow wand, for instance."
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.04 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Excerpt from a Goodreads review: "Like in many families, siblings are all different. Malcolm is good at everything, Molly is overly practical, and the Toad is the troublemaker, but in the end they all come together to make the best out of a bad situation. Many children will be able to relate to the family dynamics in this book." (from Zoe Lampman's four-star review)
  • About the author: Nash grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, and had a child nicknamed "Toad" who was an inspiration for the Coverlet books. There were three books in all, with this being the middle one — While Mrs. Coverlet Was Away (1958), Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians (1960) and Mrs. Coverlet's Detectives.
  • About the illustrator: Kansas-born Price was, early in his career, an illustrator for The New Yorker. He had a short but notable stint in the world of comic strips in the 1930s. Lambiek Comiclopedia states: "In 1933 he developed the half-page Sunday strip 'White Boy', about the adventures of a young boy who is captured by a tribe of Native Americans, eventually living peacefully with them and learning their ways." The comic strip, which eventually changed its name and focus during its short run, is discussed in great detail in a two-part 2016 article by Paul Tumey on The Comics Journal [Part 1, Part 2]. In Tumey's opinion: "The strip represents a high-water mark of the American newspaper comic, with striking visual storytelling that evokes the expansive beauty of the American West and the subtleties of the natural world."

Friday, August 4, 2017

Postcrossing card with some nifty Haruka Makita artwork

My recent bundle of Postcrossing arrivals in the mailbox included this beautiful postcard from Motoko in Japan. Deploying some of the best print handwriting I've seen in ages, she wrote the following:
I am MOTOKO. I live in Japan, KANAZAWA city.
My city is an old castle town.
Small but lovely city.
Japan is mid summer.
Today is very hot and wetty.
I like autumn wind and
blue sky. So I longing
cool wind. :)
Have a nice day!
I prefer autumn, too, Motoko! Enough of this hot stuff.

The postcard artwork is titled "Horse" and is a 2011 ink piece by Haruka Makita. Here's an excerpt from her short profile on the Kaikai Kiki Gallery website:
"Focusing on images of women with old-fashioned nihongami hairstyles as her primary motif, Haruka Makita’s works explore the thematic line between kawaii (cute) and kowai (frightening)."
To see more of her great work, check out her Instagram or Tumblr.

Gorgeous Central Park postcards and some #FridayReads

These colorful vintage postcards of Central Park were produced by the Illustrated Post Card company of New York City, which was in business from 1904 to 1914. According to, "their best known cards are from a very large set that captured scenes throughout the City of New York. These cards tended to use brighter than average colors and were titled in a very distinct font." These two postcards have never been used.

Friday Reads
Looking for something to read on this August weekend? Here are some longform pieces and magazine articles that caught my eye recently...

And if you want a new podcast to listen to on commutes or the drive to the beach or a rainy night, I can recommend 70s Trek, which has a Facebook page here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's (it is) important to proof every aspect of your book

Here's the cover of a book that I bought recently because I'm interested in its content — the 1978 memoir features Lancaster County Amish farmer Gideon Fisher relating his memories of the Great Depression and anecdotes from a half-century of change and progress on the farmstead. I am interested in that topic, so I tried not to be too critical of the blunder on the cover. The hand-drawn dust jacket presents the book's title as Farm Life and it's changes.

Setting aside the curious capitalization decisions, there's a glaring its/it's mistake right there on the cover. As a newspaper editor, I can tell you this is one of the most frustratingly common mistakes in the language. Folks just have problems understanding correct apostrophe usage. (You should see the hundreds of posts on the website Apostrophe Catastrophes.)

It's quite rare, however, to see a mistake of this magnitude on a book cover, even if the book was published by an independent press — Pequea Publishers of Gordonville in this case. And before you start thinking that this mistake was confined to the cover illustration, you can see here that it's repeated, in inch-tall letters, on the spine...


Inside, the apostrophe usage is correct on the title page of the book. But, alas, there is a different problem.

First Addition. Addition?!!? Really?

I wonder what the over/under is on editing and grammar mistakes I will discover when I read Fisher's 384-page book.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lost Corners of the Internet:
Stealing the Hope Diamond

Yahoo! Answers was launched 12 years ago, in the summer of 2005. Since it is almost entirely community-based, in terms of both its questions and answers, it's probably not the Hub of Ultimate Knowledge that its creators envisioned. That seems to be more the domain of Wikipedia, or Time-Life books.

It would be hard, even for me, to take the stance that everything on Yahoo! Answers should be saved and archived for posterity. It's a website that has hosted questions such as "Do Midgets Have Night Vision?" and "How Am I Sure I'm the Real Mom of My Kid?" and "Are There Birds in Canada?" and — please make it stop! — "Are There Gravity in India?"1

These Q&A archives are not required for posterity. In fact, we really don't want to give future generations and civilizations such obvious proof that we were this bleeping dumb.

There are, however, some comic gems within the swamp of Yahoo! Answers.

In one case, it was the answer to the legitimate — if absolutely illegal — question: "If you had to, how would you go about stealing the Hope Diamond?"

Here is the "Best Answer," which was provided 11 years ago by the wonderfully named user "WrathOfKublaKhan":

I'd need a major distraction. I'd probably get my gang to start breaking windows of the local jewelry stores and local museums as well. Then I'd get on the police band and begin reporting "officer down" at various locations.

Having done that, I'd already be hidden inside the museum's security closet for the past 10 hours. I'd disconnect the alarm and the communications and the security camera. Likely I'd have to peacefully hypnotize the guards into thinking they were my friends.

Then -- I'd head for the storage area (with my new friends and their keys) and get a big fork lift. Using the forklift, I'd ram the wall around the container holding the Hope Diamond and the other precious jewels on display. Bashing the wall down, I'd collect all my goodies ... and then toss some fakes onto the floor and leave my "conspiracy theory" note.

Then, I'd lift the lunch boxes of my friends and hide in the ceiling and release my friend guards from their daze.

24 hours later, I fall from the ceiling (dressed in white overalls) into the area being repaired that the Hope Diamond was in. I'd swear up a storm about trying to fix the duct work's new security cams. And complaining the whole time, leave to my "van."

I'd send notes to the media so they could find the 10 different locations of all the jewels spread all over the country -- they'd all be there except the one with the Hope Diamond, I'd hope they'd think that it had somehow got stolen again!

Having pulled off the ultimate heist, I'd then wear it around my neck in the bathtub while softly singing to myself.
So, to be clear, here's the checklist of things you'd need to pull off the above-described heist:
  • A gang to create distractions throughout the area
  • A police radio
  • Ticket to the National Museum of Natural History ($22)
  • Kit to disconnect alarm
  • Kit to disconnect communications
  • Kit to disconnect security camera
  • Expert-level hypnotism skills
  • Forklift
  • Several world-class fake jewels
  • "Conspiracy theory" note
  • White overalls
  • Van
  • Note paper, envelopes and stamps — to write to the media
  • More world-class fake jewels
  • Logistics plan and travel budget for spreading fake jewels around the country
  • Chain to turn Hope Diamond into a necklace
  • Bathtub
  • Song to sing softly to yourself

That's pretty much all it would take. I'm sure Danny Ocean could pull together a team to make it happen.

1. Source: "38 Yahoo Questions That Will Destroy Your Faith In Humanity" by Logan Rhoades of BuzzFeed. Here's one more: "How Do I Test To See If My Turtle Is Gay?"

Monday, July 31, 2017

That time in 1914 when my great-grandmother got a speeding ticket

My family clipped and scrap-booked endless numbers of birth announcements, wedding announcements, obituaries and other items from newspapers throughout the 20th century. But here's one I came across on that probably wasn't considered a family highlight worth saving for posterity.

It's from the July 18, 1914, edition of The Morning News of Wilmington, Delaware. My great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler, would have just turned 20 years old when this happened.

That $10 fine for speeding in 1914 was no laughing matter. Ten dollars then is the equivalent of about $243 today, so I think it's possible that her driving privileges were curtailed by her father, Lilburn Chandler, following this incident. In fact, while my Mom isn't around to confirm or augment this tale, I don't think my great-grandmother did much driving at all after this.

Full disclosure
As of this date, I have received three speeding tickets during my lifetime, two in Pennsylvania and one in South Carolina.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

OK, but which cash crop is being illustrated here?

As a Low-Grade Hoarder who has worked in the newspaper business for more than a quarter century, I have accumulated a lot of little clippings and printouts that I kept because they made me smile or giggle.

Here's one from Brendan Boyd's MONEYLI$T, 22 years ago, that made me laugh with its ambiguous illustration. It was a syndicated infographic designed for placement in the corner of a daily business page. (Remember when newspapers had business pages, and even business sections?) I was working at The York Dispatch at the time. I probably had it taped to my monitor or to a filing cabinet for awhile. And then it probably made its way into a desk drawer or box, and then eventually into a manila envelope. And now here it is on Papergreat.

And, yes, marijuana remains quite a lucrative cash crop, according to this Marketplace article from last year.

Photo of Ruth Manning-Sanders at age 100 (or possibly 102)

Here's a somewhat-poor reproduction of a photograph, taken by Phil Monckton, that appeared alongside Ruth Manning-Sanders' obituary in the October 17, 1988, edition of The Guardian. (Manning-Sanders had died on October 12.) She is holding A Book of Magic Horses, which was published in 1984, and her books of Giants and Witches, among others, are positioned behind her.

There remains some confusion over Manning-Sanders' birth date. I remain in the camp that she was born on August 21, 1886, and was thus 102 when she sat for this photograph. But there is also evidence that she was born in 1888, and obviously that date has been recorded in some newspapers of record.

As I've mentioned before, photos of Manning-Sanders are fairly scarce. Here are all of the previous images that I've come across:

Here's her full obituary from that 1988 issue of The Guardian. It was written by Stephanie Nettell.
Ruth Manning-Sanders, a teller par exellence of folk tales, knew more than most about the foibles of the world, so she is doubtless laughing that the telephone lines which kept doggedly silent for her 100th birthday just two months ago are now buzzing at news of her death. It would take more than that to surprise a woman who, as a newly-wed, paraded Victorian streets on the back of a circus elephant.

She was born in Swansea, the youngest of three daughters of a north of England Unitarian minister, and ejoyed [sic] that care-free, book-filled childhood typical of many intellectual families of the time, performing their own plays and "running wild" through long summers in the Highlands.

The family moved to Sheffield, then Manchester, and at 14 Ruth was sent to boarding school in Highgate, London, from where she won a Shakespeare Scholarship to Manchester University to read English. She had decided to become an actress when a serious illness forced her to leave university and recuperate in Italy; on her return she went to Devon and there met George Manning-Sanders, a Cornish artist.

The young couple led a wandering life in a horse-drawn caravan, spending two seasons with Rosaire's Circus, but eventually, with two children, settled in Cornwall: at the end she was still living in Penzance, writing her stories as she looked out over Mount's Bay. Although always an enthusiast for fairy tales and myths, she began her writing with long narrative poems, until the young family's shortage of money directed her to prose.

She wrote several novels, a history of the English circus, and collections of her own lively stories, inspired by folklore, for the very young, but it was her retelling of legends from around the world that brought her the devotion of generations of children.

She combined a perky humour with traditional cadences, narrative purity and sophisticated wit, spellbinding young readers with magic and suspense and injecting her own compelling personality into an ancient genre. Her work, simply titled "A Book of..." — Giants or Dragons, Dwarfs or Witches, Spooks and Spectres, Ogres and Trolls — fills a long, long shelf, and her formidable energy meant her latest book [A Cauldron of Witches] was published in this, her century year.