bioephemera

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The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907)
Children’s Digital Library

The Children’s Digital Library doesn’t have a sleek interface and it can be a bit hiccupy, but if you poke around you’ll find a surprising number of vintage children’s books like The Cheerful Cricket and Others (1907) or The Illustrated Alphabet of Birds (1851).

Best of all, several of the Oz books illustrated by John R. Neill are here in their entirety! I remember checking these out of the library when I was sick as a child. I think my mom must have charmed the librarian because I remember taking literally stacks of books at a time. The Oz books captivated me with their art nouveau design.

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John R. Neill
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)

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John R Neill
Ozma of Oz (1907)

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), Ozma of Oz (1907), The Lost Princess of Oz (1917) and Glinda of Oz (1920) are charming flights of fanciful fluff, and it’s a joy to read them again. There are even a few on here I don’t remember, although they may come back to me when I start reading.

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John R Neill
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)

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John R Neill
Glinda of Oz (1920)

The mission of the Children’s Digital Library is to give children of immigrants all over the world access to children’s books in their native tongue. But it’s not really surprising that English books constitute the majority of the collection, or that older (and thus out-of-copyright) books predominate. It may be unintentional, but it makes the Children’s Digital Library a bonanza for those of us who miss old cloth-bound children’s books like the Oz series.

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The Cheerful Cricket and Others

If you feel a little guilty for using this site to indulge your adult nostalgia (which admittedly I’m beginning to) then you can contribute to their efforts here. Read more about their efforts to incorporate kid-friendly features and digitize collections which are no longer in general circulation here.

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The Illustrated Alphabet of Birds (1851; illustrator unknown)

Found via an old post at The Chawed Rosin

Comments

  1. #1 OmegaMom
    February 26, 2009

    Oh! Oh, oh, OH! This is absolutely faboo! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oz books–online! Off to send my mom an email…

  2. #2 laurelin
    February 26, 2009

    Those 4 were my favorites!!

    The Lost Princess of OZ, especially. Hidden in a golden peach pit – bizarre and fantastic!

    John R. Neill’s illustrations had a serious influence on my drawing style.

  3. #3 Virginia
    February 26, 2009

    Thank you so much for this link! What a wonderful project. Sadly, web based projects such as this may soon be the only way that these beautiful old books are available, thanks to the ridiculous legislation involved in CPSIA. Books printed before 1985 may be purged from libraries and second hand stores as our government strives to protect us from harmful levels of lead in old printing inks. (rolling my eyes here!) Concerned parties should check out Wellspring’s blog at http://wellspringcreations.blogspot.com/ She’s writing a lot about CPSIA lately.

  4. Lovely picks. Thanks for sharing!