The Art of Book Design: The Brown Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Brown Fairy Book, Illustrations by H.J. Ford. New York (etc.), Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910.

This week’s fairy book is brown and it’s filled with the wonderful illustrations of H. J. Ford. This book, along with the remainder of the series (which I’ll be posting), all have a few coloured full-page illustrations. There are a few things I’d like to note. One is the presence of nipples on a bare-chested woman in the drawing on page 111. In fact, I find most of the drawings more suggestive. The princess’s dresses are sheerer and nipples can be seen through them. These drawings are reflective of the societal changes that happened during the Edwardian Period. The drawings also include the usual lions, bears, mermaids and ogres, along with a wonderful cock.

I’d also like to note that thanks to a comment by Crip Dyke, I’ve linked the Andrew Lang Fairy Books. The links are at the bottom of the page near the links to the books online source.

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Jack’s Walk

Artwork by rq.

Oma was still laughing as we made our way slowly back to the car. She seemed content to ride on top of Jack and had no difficulty keeping her balance. She pointed out the dandelions and told us how her grandmother taught her to make a tonic from them.
“It’s good for all sorts of ailments. It helps with bloat and the tummy flutter. You can make a salve of it for nettle stings and pebble joints. My Gran is a Wise Fairy. She knows all sorts of remedies and potions. You can meet her when we get home.”
“That would be nice,” said Jack. ‘Here’s the car, Oma. Now Mummy is going to help us get inside. Have you ever been in a car before?” He asked.
I reached down and put one hand under Jack’s belly and the other in a hug around his bum and counted to three, and then together, we hopped him into the car, with Oma still holding tightly to Jack’s collar.
“Goodness, no,” she cried. Her laughter stopped, and I could see that she was frightened. Jack stepped into the back and lay down on his bed.
“It’s very safe, Oma,” I said. “I’m a careful driver, and we can get you home quickly. It’s not nearly as dangerous as surfing with a seal.”
“That’s right,” said Jack. “You can sit here with me and watch out the window. Maybe, you could tell me again about your home by the sea.”
That brought a smile back to her face, and Oma relaxed a bit.

“Why, it’s the prettiest place you’ll ever see. The beaches are surrounded by tall red cliffs covered with fields of green, and beyond them are the mountains. Some say they’re the oldest mountains in the world. They go on forever, one round bump rolling into another all covered with trees. That’s where we live, by a stream in the mountains. It’s easy to get lost because there are lots of streams, but our place overlooks a gigantic rock with a hole in it that sits in the ocean all by itself. My favourite human friend, Muriel, calls it the Perce Rock but my family calls it The Big Wink. It’s something to see. If it’s a beautiful day and we’re not too busy, Dad will take us down to the beach. I love it there. You can find all sorts of pebbles and stones and sometimes even polished coloured gems that make beautiful decorations. Some of our craftspeople make them into jewellery or suncatchers. I like to collect them to put in the garden among the flowers.” Oma had settled down into Jack’s neck ruff and was watching out the window when she suddenly started to laugh again and said,
“Wow, this is better than flying. What do you call this thing again.”
“It’s a car, Oma. Most humans use them to get around,” said Jack.
“Well, it’s a lot of fun. You look down on things as you pass by them, and it moves so fast! I like to go fast. Sheesh! What a day I’m having. I am on a grand adventure,” she giggled. “I hope Mum won’t be too mad at me. I got my stockings dirty, and I’ve lost my books.”                            I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that Oma’s eyes had misted up again, so I said to her, ” I know the Perce Rock, or as you call it ‘The Big Wink.’  My husband’s family lives in Perce. I love it there, too. It’s one of my favourite places. I didn’t know that fairies live there, though.”
“Fairies live almost everywhere, and our mountain by The Big Wink is full of little folk of every kind,” she said. “In my neighbourhood, we have Gnomes, Imps, Elves and Fairies. It’s great. Everyone works together, and we share lots of things, but mostly food and stories. I like talking to people over food, especially if there are stories. Mama likes the love stories best, and my sister Edna likes to gossip, but I like tall tales of adventure. The Imps tell great adventure stories that make you silly laugh. ‘Course, the mushrooms they serve can make you silly laugh before the stories even start. Mama says that Edna and I can only eat one or two, and only if she or Papa is with us. Mama makes a lot of rules, but she says it’s because she wants us to grow up to be good fairies.” Oma paused for a moment to scratch her back and said, “Gosh, my wings get itchy when they’re growing in.” She paused for a moment, staring out the window when suddenly a smile lit up her face.
“Hey! Big Brown Dog! Stop! This place looks familiar. We must be getting close to home. Stop, Human, stop!” Oma’s arms were flailing about as she tried to stand up, but couldn’t find her balance. I turned into the parking lot for the Trillium Trail and stopped the car. I turned in my seat and looked into the back of the car and said, “Alright, Oma. We’re here. This is the forest where you live. I want you to hold on tightly to Jack’s collar as he gets up. OK, Jack, let’s go.”

Jack stood up slowly, and he carefully made his way out through the back door. Once on the ground, he softly made his way onto the trail as I closed up the car and locked it. Jack had only taken a few steps when he was set upon by a large mixed group of faires, Gnomes and Imps, each of them calling Oma’s name and reaching out to her. Jack slowly laid down near a patch of trout lilies, and Oma slid off of him with her arms held out wide, calling out loudly ‘Wheeee!’ A blue fairy fluttered toward Jack and caught Oma as she hit the ground. She pulled Oma close and hugged her tightly, and Oma started to cry. Still holding on to each other, Oma said, “I forget your name, but I remember your smell. Do you know where my Mama is?” Oma pulled back with tears in her eyes and continued, ” She’s going to be upset with me. I’ve lost my books, and I’ve gotten dirty, and I’m really late. Oh, Dear. I don’t know what to do.” She began to cry.

I watched as a pale green fairy wended her way through the crowd. She was older, with dull grey hair and heavy lines around her face. As she got nearer to Jack, Oma saw her and cried out with a laugh, “Edna! I am so glad to see you. I was afraid I’d never get home.”
Edna took Oma’s hands and said, “I’m glad to see you, too. You must be hungry and tired. Let’s get you home.” She looked into Jack’s eyes and said, “Thank you,” then led Oma away by the hand into the forest. There was an outburst of ‘Thank yous’ from the rest of the crowd as they slowly followed behind the two older fairies, waving goodbye one moment and then slowly vanishing into the forest. As we watched them go, I saw Gnorman turn around and come toward Jack and me, so I knelt down on one knee and smiled at him as he approached. Without hesitation, he hopped onto my lap and took my hand in his and bestowed a kiss upon it.  Then looked up at me and said,
“Thank you, Lassie. And you, Sir Jack. I see that you have injuries to your nose and your toes. I wish you speedy healing. We will never forget what you have done today. You will always be welcome among all the little folk, and we will write tales and songs about your bravery. Same for you, Voyager,” he said as he hopped off my knee.
“Thank you, Gnorman. It is my pleasure to have been of service. One question, though. How did you know so quickly that we were here with Oma?”
“Hera Hawk followed you and flew back to let us know you’d found her and were on your way home,” Gnorman said, smiling. He turned toward the forest, and said over his shoulder, “When next we meet, I’ll be wanting to hear the story from you. Right now, I have a party to get to.” He brought up his hand to blow me a kiss, calling out ‘Thanks, again, to the two of you,” before disappearing into the trees. I put my hand on Jack’s back and told him, “You are very brave, Jack. And kind. I am the luckiest Mummy in the world because I get to be your Mummy.”
Jack smiled as he stood up and said, “Thanks, Mummy. Could we get ice cream on the way home?”
“You bet, Bubba. Today you’re the king of the forest. I think you’ll need a queen. Let’s make it a Dairy Queen.”

“Yay,” he said, happily wagging his tail as he trotted ahead of me.


I’d like to thank rq for the beautiful artwork. It’s a lovely piece, and it means a great deal to me.

My thanks also to all of you for allowing me to try my hand at story writing. It was a bit of fun.


The Art of Book Design: The Grey Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Grey Fairy Book. Illustrations by H.J. Ford. New York, Longmans, Green, 1905.

Grey may not be the most exciting of colours, but the stories in this week’s Andrew Lang fairy book are full of adventure and most of the tales are new to me. The illustrations are the work of H.J. Ford again, and it was difficult to pull a few favourites because all the drawings are beautiful. Beginning next week, the remaining Andrew Lang coloured fairy books have actual coloured illustrations, so you won’t want to miss those. For today, let’s have a look at the lovely black and white drawings that accompany these stories.

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Jack’s Walk

Bixby and his mom, ©voyager, all rights reserved


I watched Jack hurry past the far edge of the field and toward a small wooded area. Suddenly he stopped and lifted his head, moving it from side to side and sniffing. Then he turned toward me and lowered his head again and stuck out his tongue to take a small taste of the grass. I was getting close enough that I could see a gleam come into his eye as he turned to his left, sniffing deeply for a few steps and then suddenly he plunged his big square head down behind an old log. The next thing I knew, Jack was jumping backwards and hollering “Ow, Ow, Ow” again. Great, I thought, more snakes, but Jack was rubbing his big rubber nose, not his toes, and his nose looked bright red and seemed to be throbbing. I hurried to Jack’s side, and that’s when I saw the rabbit, who was obviously hopping mad.

She was small with soft, lustrous fur that shone a blue-grey in the sunlight. Her ears lay flat against her back, and she was waving a large wooden spoon in the air toward Jack and yelling at him, “Get out, bad dog before I strike you again. How dare you burst into my warren and try to eat me. And with my son at home, too. Bad dog! Go on now, get out of here.”
Jack looked shocked and gave his nose another lick before saying, “I wasn’t trying to eat you. Honest, I wasn’t. I like rabbits. What I mean is I like to talk to rabbits, not that I like to eat rabbits. Oh dear, I’ve bumbled this all up. I’m trying to find someone, and I thought I smelled her down your hole.”
“Hmf,” said the rabbit, “It isn’t a hole, it’s my home, and you can’t just suddenly stick your head into someone’s home like that. It frightened me. You didn’t knock or announce yourself. You’re a very rude dog. Didn’t your mother teach you better manners than that?”
“I’m his mother,” I said, “and his manners are usually quite good. Please excuse him today. We’re trying to find a lost fairy who is very far from home, and Jack is quite worried about her. We both are.”
“That is no excuse to forget your manners,” the rabbit said, waving her spoon in the air again. “You haven’t even introduced yourselves.”
“I apologize,” I said. “It seems my manners are lacking today. My name is Voyager, and this is my dog, Jack. May I ask your name?”
“It’s Mrs. O’Hare,” said the rabbit.

Suddenly a smaller light brown rabbit popped up and peered at us from behind her. “And this young fellow is my son, Bixby. She turned to him and said sternly, “I thought I told you to stay inside.”
“I’m sorry, Mama,” he said. “but the old fairy is crying again, and I thought you’d want to know.”
“That’s Oma,” Jack cried out. “I knew she was here. Can you bring her out to us? We want to take her home.”
Mrs. O’Hare waved her spoon at Jack again and said, “Not so quickly, Mr. Jack. I haven’t been able to get a lick of sense out of this fairy. How do I know she’s who you’re looking for and how do I know you won’t eat her.”
“I don’t eat fairies!” Jack exclaimed. “Not fairies. Not rabbits. I eat dog food, that’s all.”
“Well,” said Mrs. O’Hare, “you look very well-fed, whatever it is that you eat. Are you sure you only eat dog food?”
Jack is sensitive about his weight, and I could see he was flustered, so I spoke up. “He has an occasional cookie treat, Mrs. O’Hare, but I can assure you that Jack doesn’t eat fairies. If we can speak with Oma, I mean the fairy, she can tell you that she knows Jack.”
“That fairy hasn’t been able to tell me anything that makes sense,” she said. “She keeps going on about being home late from school and saying that her mother will be upset. When I try to get more information, she tells me that her mother doesn’t want her to talk to strangers and then she starts to cry. About the only thing that calms her down is my honey biscuits, and she’s eaten almost all of them. I was hoping to take those to choir rehearsal tomorrow. Everyone loves my honey biscuits, and now I’ll need to make another batch, but even so, I’m not prepared to send this fairy away unless I know she’s safe.”

I crouched down beside Jack and said, “I promise you we’ll take her home to her family and friends. They’re all very worried about her. Oma has fairy ‘forgetting disease,’ and she gets mixed up. She was having an ill-advised adventure with a silly fox who lost her, and she’s very far from her home. We have a car, though, so we can get her back quickly,” I said.
“I hate cars,” said Mrs. O’Hare, “I lost an uncle to a shiny red car that was going too fast.” She turned and said to Bixby, “go see if you can get the fairy to come outside. There are a few honey biscuits left in the tin. Get one and try to get her to follow you.” Then she looked up at me and said, “Are you careful when you drive your car, voyager?”
“Yes, M’am. I am. I’ve never hit a rabbit with my car. Or any other animal,” I added quickly. “I’m sorry about your uncle.”
Just then, Bixby was back, holding out a cookie to a small figure emerging from the warren. Her grey hair had come unpinned and was wildly framing a tear-stained face full of creases. Her dark eyes were troubled but brightened as soon as she saw Jack.
“Hello, young man,” she said. ” I know you, don’t I.”
“Yes, you do. My name is Jack, and I visit with you in the forest where you live.”
“I live by the ocean, not in a forest,” she said, “but you are familiar to me. Do you know where my mama lives? I need to get home. I got lost on my way home from school, and mama will be worried.” Her eyes filled with tears.
Jack calmly laid down on the ground and looked into Oma’s eyes. His own eyes were getting moist, and he said, “Oma, I do know the way to get you home, and if you come with me, I promise I will take you there safely.”
Oma fiddled with the hem of her skirt, and after a moment, she said, “You do seem familiar. What is your name?”
“My name is Jack, and this is my mama, Voyager. We are here to take you home.”
“Oh, I’m so glad. My mom is going to be so mad at me. I’ve lost my books, and I’ve gotten dirty, and I can’t remember how to get home,” Oma started to cry softly.
“That’s alright,” said Jack. “I’ll explain that it wasn’t your fault.”
“That’s very nice of you,” she said. “What’s your name?”
“Jack. My name is Jack. Will you let my human pick you up,” he asked?
Oma was still fiddling with a loose thread on her hem, and without looking up, she clearly said, “Nope. Nobody is going to pick me up. You just lead the way, and I’ll fly behind you.”
“Your wings haven’t grown in yet,” said Jack. “and it’s too far for you to walk.”

Oma let go of her hem and frantically reached up to touch her shoulders, crying out, “Don’t tell me I’ve lost my wings, too. Mom is really going to be mad,”
Jack patiently said, “You haven’t lost your wings. They moult in the winter, and they haven’t grown in yet. It’s only early spring. They’ll grow back soon.”
She picked up her hem again and said, “Will you look at this loose thread. I hope Mom can fix it. Do you know where I live? I need to get home.”
“We’re going to take you home,” said Jack
“Are you sure you know how to get to my place? Who are you?” Oma said, looking at Jack, “I’ve forgotten the way, and my mama is going to be upset. I’ve gotten my dress dirty, and I’ve lost my books.”
“I’m your friend, Jack, and I do know the way,” he said, and he gently laid his big bowling ball of a head on the ground beside Oma and told her, “climb up onto me now and hold on tight. Careful of my nose, please. It’s a bit sore,” he said, looking at Mrs. O’Hare’s wooden spoon before continuing, “Your family will be happy to have you home again. I’m sure no one will be upset with you.”
“You do seem like a nice dog. And you are familiar. What’s your name?” she asked, reaching out to Jack and grabbing a handful of his neck ruff and pulling herself up.
“Jack,” he said patiently.
“What’s my name,” she asked.
“Your name is Oma Troutchen, and I’m going to take you home.”
“Do you know the way,” she asked again as she started to climb up Jack’s neck.
“Yes, I know the way to your home. We’re going to go there now.”
Oma had made it to the top of Jack, and he softly stood up and told Oma to grab onto his collar and hold on tight. She reached out both hands, grabbing on and started to laugh.
“This is a bit like surfing. I often surf with my friend Slippery Seal. Do you know him?”
“I don’t know any seals by name, but I like to surf,” said Jack.
“Well, let’s go find some water, and you can take me surfing,” Oma said, still laughing.
Jack turned to Mrs. O’Hare and Bixby and said, “Thank you for taking good care of Oma. I’m sorry if I was rude.”
Mrs. O’Hare snuggled up to Bixby and said, “You’re forgiven. Manners are important, but it’s even more important to have good friends who remember the things we forget. Bixby, give the biscuit to Voyager in case Oma needs it on the way home.”
Bixby reached up to me, and I gently took the cookie from him. “Thank you both,” I said, “I won’t forget your kindness, and I will make sure that Oma’s family know that you took excellent care of her.”
“Off with you now, before that fairy changes her mind,” said Mrs. O’Hare, and she and Bixby stood together watching us slowly make our way to the car.

The Art of Book Design: The Yellow Fairy Book.

Andrew Lang. The Yellow Fairy Book. Illustrations by H. J. Ford. London & New York, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1894.

This week’s Andrew Lang book of fairy stories is brought to you by the colour yellow. The illustrations are again done by the talented H. J. Ford and I’ve added my favourites below the fold. There are big birds, dancing dragons, serpents, witches, beautiful maidens, brave dogs and a goat who made me smile. I hope you enjoy

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The Art of Book Design: The Pink Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Pink Fairy Book. Illustrated by H. .J. Ford. New York, Longmans, Green, 1897.


This week’s Andrew Lang Fairy Book is pink. Bright pink with golden sunshine, angels and cherubs. Inside, the illustrations are again by the talented HJ Ford, and I’ve chosen my favourites to share with you. They include a Japanese tanuki, cats, dogs, baboons, dragons, mermaids and princesses of all sorts.  I’m especially fond of the drawings with wind and water, both of which are difficult to draw, and Ford does it brilliantly. Enjoy.

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Jack’s Walk

The search begins. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I made our way back to the car quickly but then sat for a moment or two, trying to figure out the quickest route to Punkydoodles Corner. We needed to go east, so taking the big highway 401 to the Drumbo exit seemed like the best way to go.
As I was pulling out, Jack said to me quietly,
“Are you stopping for another coffee, Mummy?”
“Do you think we can afford the time to stop, Bubba?”
“Well, Mummy, it’s going to be hard work looking for Oma, and I thought that we could share a breakfast sandwich. You know, for energy.”
“We’ve already had breakfast, Jack.”
“Maybe, we could call it early lunch, Mummy. I’m starving.”
“You’re always hungry, Jack, but alright we’ll stop at Tim’s. It’s on the way.”
We drove in silence, both of us lost in thought until we made it to Tim Horton’s drive-through.
“HI, I’ll have a large coffee with cream and a breakfast sandwich, please,” I said to the microphone.
“Don’t forget a Timbit, Mummy. I’ll want a treat after I find Oma.”
“And two plain Timbits, please,” I added.
Jack smiled, but I could see the worry in his eyes. We paid for our food and drove the two blocks to the park, where we sat and ate our first lunch.

“So Jack, do you think we can really find this fairy?” I asked.
Bubba was quiet for a moment and finally said, “It depends on Oma. If she’s touched a lot of things, it will be easier. I’m 99% sure I can find Freddy’s trail, but finding Oma will be harder.” Jack swallowed a bite of egg without chewing and then said, “We have to find her, Mummy. Everyone is counting on us.”
“Yes, they are Jack, and we’ll do our very best, but we might not find her.”
“Mummy, your attitude sucks. We are going to find her, even if it takes all day!” Jack exclaimed.
“Alright, well, let’s get going,” I said, mentally trying to plan for an all-day event. We made our way to the highway, and it wasn’t long before we reached the Drumbo exit. We turned south, and soon there it was… the sign for Punkydoodles Corners. I pulled over and helped Jack out of the car.
“Alright, Bubba. There’s the sign, and we’re a bit west, so let’s see what you can pick up.”
“This whole place stinks like fox, Mummy. It must be a route they use often.”
“Can you pick up Freddy,” I asked.
“Maybe. Let me sniff around a bit,” he said.

Jack took off, wandering up and down and back and forth, sniffing and occasionally sticking out his tongue to taste the grass. It seemed random at first, but then I saw the pattern. Jack was making smaller and smaller figure eights along the ditch. He was quiet and methodical, and time passed slowly. Thankfully, the day was bright and sunny, and so far, there hadn’t been traffic on this road. Finally, after about half an hour, Jack stopped and looked up at me and smiled.
“Got him, Mummy. This is definitely Freddy’s smell. It’s strong here. I think this is where he stopped to drink. There isn’t much water here now, but I’m sure this is the place. I don’t smell Oma, though.” Jack’s face grew solemn.
“Can you tell which direction he came from,” I asked. Jack looked up and said, ” north-west. Toward that field.”
“Alright,” I said, hoping the farmer who owned that field wouldn’t mind us wandering around it. “Let’s go.”
” I can go faster without you, Mummy,” Jack said, “You’re a bit slow.”
Me, slow! Huh, That’s rich coming from Mr. Heavybum. He was right, though, so I waved him away and admonished him to stay in my sights.
“Silly, Mummy. Of course, I will,” he said, trotting away.

He headed up the ditch and toward the eastern edge of the field. He began a zig-zaggy pass along the border when suddenly I heard him bark sharply and start dancing around.
“Ow, Ow, Ow,” he cried, dancing in place and snapping his jaws at the ground.
I hurried toward him and saw him standing at the edge of a rock pile, writhing with garter snakes. Yikes!… snakes. I’ve made peace with snakes one on one, but there were dozens of snakes all wriggling in a pile and hissing, and it made me hesitate. Another cry of “Ow, Ow, Ow,” from Jack finally got me moving, and I rushed forward and pulled Jack backwards by his collar.
Jack gave a final snapping of his jaws at the snakes and said, “they bit my toes, Mummy.’ I could see tiny spots of blood that Jack bent down and licked away. Turning back to the snakes, Jack said, “That wasn’t very nice. Biting is nasty. Why would you do that?”
One of the larger snakes slithered out of the pile and towards us.
“‘Causssssse you sssteped on usss, you clumsy beasst,” it hissed.
Jack was still licking tiny spots of blood on his toes.
“Sorry,’ he said. “I’m looking for a fairy, and I wasn’t paying attention. Even so, it’s very rude to bite someone.”

“There’sss no fairiess here.” said the big spokesnake. “It’s Ssspring wake up for usss.” The pile of snakes began to giggle while they wriggled, and he continued with a smile, “It’ss the ssseason of love. Sssoon it will be the ssseason of babiesss.”
I couldn’t stop watching the slithering pile even though they were making me feel nauseous. What a sight! Finally, I found my voice and weakly croaked, “have you seen a grey-haired fairy come this way?”
The giggling stopped for a moment, and a whisper passed among the group.
Finally, Mr. Spokesnake said, “Nopes. No fairiesss. You can passss over us if you wantsss to look down there.”
“Will you promise not to bite me again,” said Jack, who was still nursing his toes.
“Yesss, if you promise not to steps on usss again,” he hissed, moving forward.
“I can promise that,” I said. “We’ll go around you. In fact, we’ll take a wide berth around you. Come, Jack, let’s go this way,” I said, heading up and to my left.
Jack trotted toward me and looking back, said, “Sorry, snakes. Enjoy your season of love.”
Once we were well away from the garter snakes, Jack looked up at me and said, “You were very brave, Mummy, I know snakes make you nervous.”
I smiled back and told him, “No, Bubbs, you were the brave one. How are your toes?”
“A bit sore, but not bad. I still have my winter toe fur, so the bites aren’t deep.”
He put his nose to the ground again and began another zig-zag pass. A few meters into the field, he stopped and barked happily, “Mummy, I can smell the ocean. It must be Oma Troutchen!” He began to inhale deeply and headed for the far side of the field.

I sighed and followed slowly behind. Then I smelled it myself. The ocean. There was a faint whiff of salt air and seaweed, only a fragment, and then it was gone. Jack was almost to the east edge of the field and I hurried to catch up. Maybe we were going to find Oma Troutchen, after all.

The Art of Book Design: The Green Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Green Fairy Book. Illustrated by H. J. Ford. New York, Longmans, Green, 1902.

This week it’s the Green Fairy Book and I’ve plucked a few of my favourite illustrations to share with you. Most of the artwork that I’ve chosen involves animals. My absolute favourite drawings, though, are from the last story in the book, The Three Dogs. Enjoy!

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Jack’s Walk

Jack watches Freddy leave. ©voyager, all rights reserved

While Jack and I were waiting for Freddy Fox to make an appearance, Gnorman and I chatted amiably. I asked about his family, and he told me about his wife, Gmary and their children Gnancy and Gmatilda. They have a small farm in the eastern part of the forest, which is apparently where most of the Gnomes live.
“So are all the Gnomes farmers,” I asked.
“Nay,” said Gnorman. “Mostly, we be craftsmen. Cobblers. Tailors. Makers of fine furniture and the like. We Gnomes are good with our hands.”
“Say,” said Gnorman, looking at me pointedly, “would you by any chance be part elf?”
“I don’t think so.” I replied,  “My dad used to tell me we were descended from Vikings, but he never mentioned elves. I’m pretty sure I’m 100% human.”
“I’m sorry for ya, Lass,” Gnorman chuckled, “but you do look Elvish, you know. You’re small for a human, and more than a bit crooked, and you’ve got them big ears.” Gnorman reached out and stroked the top of my left ear.
I hunched my shoulders at his touch and shook my head. Crooked! Big Ears! I harrumphed and was about to say something when Jack raised his head sleepily and said to me,
“Mummy, you’re beautiful. I like your crooked back. It curves just the right way to curl up in. And your ears are only a little bit big. They’re not nearly as big as mine.”
“Thanks, Bubba.”
“Hey, I smell fox,” Jack said quickly, turning his head to the left, “coming from that way.”
“Show yerself, Freddy,” Gnorman called out.
A thin, reedy voice called out from behind a fallen tree, “Heh, heh. Snort. In time, Gnome. Can these two be trusted?”
” More trustworthy than you, Freddy. Now, show yer face.”

Slowly a young, lean-faced red fox with piercing amber eyes rose out of the leaf litter and stood before Jack and me. His ears were tipped with black, and he was quite handsome.
“Hello, I’m voyager, and this is my dog, Jack,” I said pleasantly. Jack smiled at the fox, but his eyes were serious and full of caution.
“Fredlich Fleetfoot Fox. I don’t like dogs, so let’s get this over with quickly,” he snorted.
“Be nice, Freddy,” Gnorman growled. “Oma is still missing, and this whole situation is your fault. Jack is a good dog, and his human seems pleasant enough, and they’re going to help us find Oma.”
“Heh, heh. I din’t mean to lose her,” Freddy said defensively. “I knew she was tangled up in my tail, and I tried to flick her off a few times, but she wouldn’t let go.”
“She was likely too scared,” said Jack glowering at Freddy.
“No, that wasn’t it at all, you dumb dog. Oma said she wanted to go for a ride, and since it was a nice day, I thought I’d give her a bit of a treat. I was plannin’ on bringing her back,” he rasped.
“So why didn’t you,” Jack grumbled.

“Well,” he said, “once we hit the open field, Oma started whoopin’ and hollerin’ for me to get goin.” Freddy was getting animated. His long, full tail was waving quickly, and he started to bounce on his knees while he spoke.
”’Faster, Freddy,’ she kept sayin,’ and the sun was shining, and I was full of spring energy, so I started to run. Oma was hangin’ on tight, and called out ‘Wheee! Oh, this is sooo much fun.’ Then she said something about it being like ‘snurfing with sneals,’ and I din’t know what she was talking about, but she was laughing and giggling like a drunken imp, and kept calling out to me, ‘Yippee. Yahoo. Faster, faster, go like the wind, fox!’ and she was swinging off my tail, holding on tight with one hand while she held the other arm out tryin’ to catch the breeze. When we crested the hill, I felt her let go, but I’d slowed down enough to do a quick turn, and I caught her between my ears. She sat up there for a minute while I caught my breath and then I headed down toward home. That’s when Oma started to cry,” Freddy snorfled dejectedly and sat down.
“She was probably crying because she was scared,” Jack said.
“Snort! No, you dumb dog. That wasn’t it at all.” Freddy shouted.
Jack issued a low grumble and stared at Freddy, who suddenly stood up and took a few quick steps backward.
Looking down, Freddy continued, “Simmer down, dog and listen, will ya. Oma told me that she never had fun anymore. That since she got old, people treated her like glass and that she just wanted to do something exciting for a change. She asked if we could go a bit farther, and since it was a nice day and I din’t have anything pressing to do, I said yes.” Freddy said, looking up. His eyes were moist, and he seemed about to cry.

I softly asked him where they went, and Freddy perked up again.
“We went down the hill to the east and headed toward Drumbo. Oma had slid down my neck and was sitting on my back, so I told her she had to hang on with both hands, and she did, but then she wanted to go fast again, so I started to run. The wind was at my back, so I got up a good speed, and Oma was trying to sing a song about flying, but she kept laughing and getting the words wrong, and we was both having a good time. I don’t know when Oma let go, but when I stopped at the ditch for a drink, she was gone,” he paused, then sniffled, “I never meant for it to go wrong.” Freddy then stood up and turned around slowly, almost as if looking for something or someone.

Jack said kindly, “Things go wrong all the time, Freddy. It sounds like you were trying to be helpful, even if it was reckless. Can you tell me where you were when you noticed Oma was gone.”
“Well, it was near Punkydoodles Corners. I could see the sign from the ditch near the highway to the west. About a 10 minute walk. I called for Oma, but she didn’t answer. I looked everywhere – in all directions, but I couldn’t find her. I looked for a long time, too, and I asked around. I talked to a few other foxes and a stinky skunk and even a rather surly badger, but no one had seen her. That’s when I turned around and started back here to tell all of you. I looked all along the way, but I din’t find her. I was hoping there was some fairy magic that could bring her home,” Freddy said, hopefully.
“Fairy magic doesn’t work that far, you ninny,” spat Gnorman.
“That is a long way from here,” said Jack. “We’ll need to drive, Mummy.”
“That’s why we asked for your human to help, Jack,” said Gnorman. “you’s can get there quickly. It’d take us days to get that far.”

“Of course,” I said. “We can get there in about half an hour. Jack, is there anything else you need?”
“I need to smell your feet, Freddy,” Jack said, and he took a step toward the fox.
“No, no, no. Not my feet,” said Freddy. “I’m ticklish.”
“And your bum,” said Jack.
Freddy’s eyes got big. “Ah…no to that, too,” he snorted, stepping backwards again.
“Stay right there, Freddy,” Gnorman yelled, and suddenly he was no longer beside me, but behind the fox.
“Wow, Gnorman,” I said. “How’d you do that.”
“Fairies ain’t the only ones with a bit ‘o magic,” he smiled at me. “Now fox, sit still while Jack sniffs out what he needs.”

“How do I know I can trust him,” Freddy snorted, almost blubbering.”Because I’m a Labrador Retriever,” said Jack with a touch of exasperation, “everyone knows we’re the most trustworthy dogs. We’re also good at finding stuff. I have an excellent nose.”

“Well, if your nose is so great, why can’t you smell me from over there,” Freddy blurted out.
“I can smell you from here, but I have a better chance of finding Oma if I can get a more detailed idea of the trail you leave behind, and I need to smell you up close for that,” Jack said, adding, “Why is it such a big deal?”
Freddy snorted a raspy sort of growl, and Jack responded with a low, husky noise that made Freddy sit down quickly and hold up a paw.
“Thanks,” said Jack. “Now the other one.”
Freddy giggled as Jack sniffed his other front paw. “Good,” Jack said, “now the back ones.”
“You don’t need to smell those, too, do you?” Freddy cried.
Jack coughed gently and said, “back feet smell different from front feet. Of course, I need to sniff them too.”
Jack moved around behind Freddy and asked him to lift his back feet one at a time, sniffing while Freddy giggled.
“OK, now I’m going to smell your bottom bits,” Jack finally announced, “please lift your tail.”
Freddy started making little nyuck, nyuck noises, but a grunt from Gnorman silenced him, and he slowly lifted his beautiful, long, bushy tail.
“Honestly,” said Jack, “I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss. It’s normal to smell each other,” Jack brought his nose up and took a deep sniff. Then he reached his nose farther in to smell between Freddy’s legs.
“Hey, I didn’t say you could sniff me there,” Freddy jumped ahead a few feet.
“I need to get as much information as possible. Anyway, I’m all finished now,” Jack stood back.

“Alright, Jack. Are you ready to go,” I asked?
“Yes, Mummy. I know what Oma smells like. She smells like acorn caps, trout lilies and trillium roots with a faint whiff of the ocean. I’m pretty sure I can pick up the trail from where Freddy stopped for a drink,” Jack said, looking up at me. “Do you know how to get to that ditch?”
“You, bet, Bubba. I know that road pretty well. We’ll stop when I see the sign, and since I’m taller than Freddy, that should be before where he stopped. We’ll pull over and start from there,” I said, mentally planning our route.

“That sounds like the place to start,” said Jack. “Thanks for your help, Freddy.”
“Can I go now,” snorted Freddy, who had started to bounce on his toes.
“Off with you then, fox,” Gnorman grunted, and in a flash, Freddy disappeared back into the leaf litter and was gone.
“Off with the two of you, now, too,” Gnorman waved his arms at us. “Oma must be frightened and scared. And it’s gonna be cold tonight. We wants her home safe before then.”
“Don’t worry,'” said Jack. “We’ll find her, won’t we, Mummy.”
“You bet, Bubba,” I said, not really sharing his confidence. “Let’s go find Oma Troutchen.”

The Art of Book Design: The Red Fairy Book

The “coloured” Andrew Lang book this week is the Red Fairy Book, originally published in 1890. The colour of this book, though, is all on the cover. The illustrations are all black and white and done in the Victorian style of the period. I’ve included some of my favourites, mostly animal-related and including a dragon,  below the fold. I hope you enjoy.

Andrew Lang. The Red Fairy Book. Illustrated by H.J. Ford and Lancelot Speed. London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1890.

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The Art of Book Design: The Violet Fairy Book

Andrew Lang. The Violet Fairy Book. Illustrated by H.H. Ford. London, New York, Longmans, Green, 1906.

Andrew Lang published a series of 12 Fairy Books, all identified by colour. The books were illustrated by H. J. Ford, and they’re filled with detailed black and white line drawings, plus a series of coloured plates. These books are amongst my favourite in the Fairy Tale genre and I’ve been saving them for a special occasion. I think the pandemic qualifies, and so for the next 12 weeks, Children’s Book Saturdays will feature the Andrew Lang series. We begin with the Violet Fairy Book, and it was difficult to choose which illustrations to share because there are so many that I like. I”ve attached all of the colour plates, plus many line drawings that include dogs, cats, snakes, lions, bears, boars, horses, dragons, plus a mermaid, because I know at least one mermaid fan out there. If you’d like to see the entire book, you can check it out at the link to The Internet Archive here and below. During the pandemic, The Internet Archive is allowing all their on-loan books out with no waiting lists, so now is the time to check them out. It’s easy to register (find a book you want, click the “borrow” button and the site will ask for your email – that’s all)  and they have millions of things you can check out all for free. Any book that isn’t offered for loan can be read at the site. The site also carries music, magazines and artwork. There’s a lot of good stuff for adults and children. Enjoy!

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Jack’s Walk

The Hollow, Twisted Tree ©voyager, all rights reserved

“Mommy… Mommy,” I heard Jack call out excitedly from somewhere up ahead. Soon I saw him exit the forest and do a quick trot toward me on the trail. All of this was quite surprising because Jack seldom gets excited, and he doesn’t do the quick trot anymore, so something was up.
“What is it, Bubba?” I asked as he got nearer.
“Oma Troutchen is missing, and the fairies need our help.”
“Why do the fairies need our help?”
“They need my nose, and you have to drive,” Jack said, “Gnorman will explain it. He wants to talk to you.”
“Is Gnorman a fairy?” I asked, getting excited at the thought of finally meeting one of Jack’s fairy friends.
“Silly Mummy. Gnorman isn’t a fairy. Gnorman is a Gnome. Over here,” Jack said, walking back into the woods and stopping beside a tall, twisted tree stump.
I approached carefully and looked around, but I didn’t see anyone except for Jack.
“Where is he, Jack?”
“Up here, you Ninny, and put that camera away,” I heard a gruff voice say, but I still didn’t see anyone.
“Here, in the tree,” and sure enough there he was, a small wizened creature with a bushy white beard wearing a pointed red cap, standing inside the hollowed-out tree.
“Why must I put the camera away,” I asked.
“Because I told you to. Now, are you going to keep asking silly questions, or are you going to listen?” Gnorman said.
“I’m listening, but I’d like to take your photo, please,” I said as politely as I could.
“Maybe later. Right now, we’s got a lost fairy, and we needs Jack to help us find her. And Jack says he needs you to help him, so we’s decided to take a chance and asks you’s fur a bit of human help.”
“I’ll help however I can,” I said, wondering what on earth I could do to help find a fairy.
“It’s Oma Troutchen we’s lost. She was out collecting acorn caps with the school kids yesterday when young Freddy Fox wandered in and started sniffing around, and somehow Oma got caught up in his tail, and the silly fool ran off with her hanging there, and he’s done went and lost her.”
“That’s terrible.” I said, “Do you have any idea where she might be?”
“That’s the trouble. Freddy says that he thinks he lost her around Punkydoodles corner, but that’s a long way from here, and the fairies don’t have their wings yet to go looking for her. The birds is out looking for her, but they haven’t found her yet, and Oma ain’t gonna do well on her own for long.”
“Why won’t Oma do well? And why don’t the fairies have their wings?”
“Great grasshoppers! You sure do ask a lot of questions.” Gnorman said.
“Everyone knows that Fairies shed their wings in the fall and grow them back in the spring, so’s it’s easier for them to live underground in the winter. As for Oma, she’s very old and has the forgetting disease. Everyone in the forest is out looking for her. Even them drunken Imps are helping, but Freddy took her too far, and it’s hard to find a fairy who ain’t got her wings.” Gnorman was getting upset. “, where’s that stupid fox. He was supposed to meet us here to give Jack a bit more knowing about where they went. Hrmph! You just can’t trust a fox.”
“if you can’t trust a fox, how do we know he’ll tell us the truth?” I asked.
“‘Cause he’s got the whole durn forest mad at him and even a fox is smart enough to know you don’t mess with the fairies.”
“Everyone loves Oma Troutchen, Mummy,” Jack spoke up. “She’s been living in this forest for a long, long time and she’s friends with everyone. She was the first fairy I met, and she tells the best stories. I love her, too.” Jack sighed heavily, and I could see his eyes misting over.
“Alright, Gnorman. Jack, can you find the trail without waiting for this fox to turn up?”
“I can find fox trails, but I can’t be sure which one belongs to Freddy,” Jack said sadly.
“Well, then, I guess we’d better wait to see if Freddy turns up,” I said, sitting down on a log to wait.
“Thar’s a good girl,” Gnorman growled. “Now, I’ll let ya take one photo, but not too close. You humans always seems to make us Gnomes look silly.”
“Well, you do look a bit silly up in that tree,” I said.
“I climbed up here to make it easier for you, young lady, there’s nothing silly about that.” Gnorman smiled for the first time.
“Thanks,” I said, smiling back at him. “I appreciate your effort. And it’s nice to be called ‘young lady,’ no one calls me that anymore.”
“Well, you don’t look a day over a hundred to me,” Gnorman said merrily, and while I was letting that remark sink in, he quietly said, “Thanks to ya, fur helping us,” and then he blew me a kiss.
I reached for my camera and snapped a quick photo before Gnorman changed his mind.

Jack lay down beside me and placed his head heavily on my foot. I could see he was tired, and I stroked his back, hoping he would take a power nap.
And so we waited, hoping Freddy Fox would turn up soon.

Gnorman, ©voyager, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: The Springtime of Life, poems of childhood

Algernon Charles Swinburn. Springtide of Life. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott: London, W. Heinemann, 1918.

Today’s children’s book is a collection of poetry dedicated to the early life of children by Algernon Swinburn. It was published posthumously, as a collection according to the author’s wishes and was illustrated by one of the era’s most prolific and respected artists, Arthur Rackham. I’ve included all the full-page colour plates, but the book also contains a wealth of line drawings of chubby cherubs and well-fed babies, a minimum of one per poem. I’m very fond of Rackham’s artwork and I hope it brings some pleasure to your day. [Read more…]