Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES

Back in 1951 (and again in 1961) a new edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, was released, with illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen. That book is back out this year, from Golden Press. Here's a photo (a heartfelt thanks to Allie Jane Bruce for sending me these images!) of the old and new.

The 1963 edition has a poem in it called The Land of Storybooks. Just before it is one called The Flowers:

Here's the next page from the 1963 edition...

Here's a closer look at the Provensen's illustrations of the little boy playing at being an "Indian scout" and his imaginings of Indian scouts (who are hunting lions and tigers).

The Land of Storybooks is not in the 2017 edition. See? It goes from The Flowers to The Cow. That's a step in the right direction!

Stevenson's collections--by the way--have more than one poem that is racist in word and/or how an illustrator depicted the "Indian" in it. Over in AICL's "Foul Among the Good" gallery is an entry about Foreign Children, illustrated by Charles Robinson, in 1897.

I assume Foreign Children isn't in the new Provensen edition. I wonder, though, how the Provensen's illustrated that poem, back in 1951?

Some day, I might spend time looking up images of Foreign Children and The Land of Storybooks. I wonder, for example, how Brian Wildsmith did those two, when he illustrated the book in 1966? What do you have on your shelves? If you've got editions with illustrations of Foreign Children or The Land of Storybooks, please take a photo of those pages and send them to me. I'll add them here.


Tibby Wroten (a reader of AICL) sent me these photos from a copy of the book, with illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa (thanks, Tibby!). The pages are from a 1985 printing, with a copyright of 1957. Here's the cover:

And here's the interior pages:

Update: Sunday, April 30, 2017

Another reader sent a batch of photos. These are from a 1985 edition published by Crown Publishers. Illustrations are by Jessie Smith Willcox. Here's the cover:

Here's Foreign Children. "Turned the turtles off their legs" -- what do you think? Is that meant to be the Indian, Sioux, or Crow? It is an interesting poem. I wonder if there's any analysis of it, anywhere? Given that Stevenson was specific with Sioux and Crow, I wonder if "Indian" is meant to be someone from India?

Here's the illustration and poem, The Sun Travels. It, too, has "Indian" in it, but this time, Willcox definitely has a Native person in mind.

The reader also sent me the page for Land of Storybooks. Here's the illustration on top. No feathers. I think this is the child imagining himself as a hunter. Not an Indian one, just a hunter.

I'll keep adding to this gallery of art for Steven's A Child's Garden of Verses as I receive more photos, or as I find them.

Today (Nov 8, 2017), a reader sent this image from a 2011 publication of the book:


Eric Carpenter said...

Your assumption is correct. Just checked my copy of the new 2017 edition and Foreign Children is not in this collection.

booklovers said...

Good thread. Here's a link to the Charles Robinson illustrated version:
I believe he was the first illustrator, so it makes sense to pay particular attention to these drawings.
The illustrations for "Foreign Children" (pages 51 and 52) are about as stereotypical and offensive as you can imagine (the second illustration you have posted above).
My reading of the first line ("Little Indian, Sioux or Crow"), is that "Sioux or Crow" are meant to modify "Indian"--i.e. the line is stating that there are two types of Native Americans (rather than being a list of three).

Danielle E. Price (James Madison University)