Monday, 11 March 2013

The Favourite Wonder Book

The Favourite Wonder Book published by Odham Press was reprinted many times to my knowledge and later reprints had their reprint dates on the title page but unfortunately that was unusual. The British Library have a copy with an accession date of 1938. I own two copies which are exact reprints - one with no date and the other exact copy but for the cover with the date "Reprinted 1946"

Raymond Sheppard illustrated a short poem called Little Trotty Wagtail by John Clare (the poet born in 1793). It's a humorous poem with staccato sounds mirroring the nervous bird's actions. It's unusual for Sheppard to do this sort of caricatured face on a bird but he was only 25 years of age, if we take the British Library's date.

Favourite Wonder Book Page 183

Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
And twittering, tottering sideways he ne'er got straight again,
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.

Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.

Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-sty,
So, little Master Wagtail, I'll bid you a good-bye. 

For researchers here are the two contents pages for the book. It can be easily bought on eBay, Abebooks etc and has wonderful colour and black and white illustrations. I have seen copies for sale that are blue, brown, black and burgundy, but also a printed colour illustrative dustjacket and the book with endpapers (which my two do not have). Another example of how hard it is to trace and catalogue these Odham and Blackie & Sons titles!

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