Off the Shelf: Pretty, Pretty Princess

Almost all the books I’ve shared in Off the Shelf have been acquisitions I made in adulthood, scrounging around musty old used bookstores and library shops. But this one is actually from my childhood.

It’s a beautiful hardbound copy of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess illustrated by Graham Rust. I remember reading both this book and The Secret Garden well before I was old enough to understand most of the meaning. But I do remember loving the illustrations in this one.

Princess_1

I was a real priss growing up. Still am. So, I loved anything girly, frilly, dainty, proper, flowery, and so on. This book was right up my alley. It’s a mix of lovely full-color illustrations and smaller black-and-whites.

Here’s Sara Crewe’s first day at Miss. Minchin’s boarding school for girls. I love all the detail that the artist packs into each image. Minchin’s the ultimate sourpuss. Sarah is a heavy-lidded dreamer.

Princess_2

Here’s Sarah on that fateful birthday. The illustrator has taken everything into consideration, right down to the hanging picture frames in the hallway and the crown moulding on the ceiling.

Princess_4

Now, it’s not very popular for illustrations to be framed “vignette” style, with the circular, fading border. But it kind of fits the prissiness of this story. It’s as if all the illustrations, shrunk to size, could fit inside a locket.

Princess_3

Here’s one of the sorrowful black-and-whites, which is probably just graphite or charcoal pencil. The folds in the fabric of her dress are what make this one.

Princess_5

Oh, the injustice of it all…

Princess_6

This wonderful two-page spread of Sara’s room decorated India-style by her mysterious friend is something I would’ve payed little attention to as a child, but now I can appreciate the detail.

Princess_7

Enjoy a few more images from the book:

Princess_8

Princess_9

Don’t these illustrations make you want to have tea? In a china teacup? With lemon cookies? Me too.

Advertisements

Tiny Reading

TinyBookHave you ever read any of the Book-a-Minutes? This is a website that houses a library of ultra-condensed books. They take classic, sci-fi, and kids books and rewrite them so they’re incredibly short.

It’s what would happen if Reader’s Digest was anorexic.

It takes less than a minute — less than 30 seconds, usually — to read these super-short summaries. And they’re hilarious. If you have a snotty sense of humor like me, you’ll like them.

Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about. I chose classic children’s books because that’s what I’m crocheting right now.

THE SECRET GARDEN

Colin
I’m sick because I think I’m sick.

Mary
Then let’s reawaken our spirits by going to this garden and discovering the healing power of love inside us all.

Dickon
Sounds good to me.

THE END

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

(Charlie gets a TON of Willy Wonka chocolate bars.)

Charlie
Hooray. I’m an instant winner.

Willy Wonka
Hi kids. Four of you will undergo severe physiological distress that in the real world would get me sued, and one will be picked to be the Special One.

(Charlie gets picked.)

THE END

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

(Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert send for an orphan boy to help out at Green Gables.)

Anne Shirley
I’m here.

Marilla Cuthbert
Anne Shirley, you are not a boy. Go back to the orphanage.

Anne Shirley
If I work really hard, stay out of trouble, enrich your lives with my buoyant spirit, rescue you from the doldrums of your pragmatic ways, and touch the hearts of the townsfolk…then can I stay?

Marilla Cuthbert
Well, OK.

(Anne does all these things except stay out of trouble.)

THE END

THE CAT IN THE HAT

Sally and Me
We’re bored.

(The Cat in the Hat shows up and wrecks the entire house. He cleans it up just before MOM gets home.)

Sally and Me
Let us never speak of boredom again.

THE END

CHARLOTTE’S WEB

Wilbur, the Pig
I don’t want to die.

Charlotte, the Spider
Fear not. I have a plan.

(Charlotte spins a web over the pig with words like GREAT and SUPER in it.)

Everyone
The pig is amazing.

Reader
The spider is amazing.

THE END

See what I mean? Sometimes when the day is getting long and I just need a laugh, I’ll go and see what’s new at Book-a-Minute. Try their classics and sci-fi summaries, too. I’ll leave you with Austen:

EMMA

Emma Woodhouse

I do believe I’m correct on all matters.

(Emma is WRONG.)

Emma Woodhouse

There goes that theory. Better get married.

THE END