From 1957 to 1961, the Doubleday Book Clubs, under the Nelson Doubleday imprint, published a multi-volume work entitled Best in Children's Books. In all, there were 42 volumes published, each issued with a full color dust jacket. The volume designation is difficult to determine at first glance, since it is marked only by a number on the bottom right corner of the title page and on the back flap of the dust jacket. Three reprints exist, slightly different than the originals. Volume 10 and 19 reprints were designated by the addition of a lower case "a" following the volume number; volume 18 is less clear with one printing having information about Israel and the other telling about the Congo.
Each volume contained a mix of classics, new stories, and non fiction. Included were numerous folk and fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm; Mother Goose rhymes; retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and The Ugly Duckling; and adaptations of Robinson Crusoe, A Christmas Carol, and Gulliver's Travels. Every volume had an informational piece on a different country, complete with photographs, introducing children to new and exotic lands like Japan, Israel, and Thailand. A love of history was fostered through stories about Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Boone, Robert Fulton, Clara Barton, Marco Polo, and the Wright Brothers. Mythology was introduced with stories about Pandora, Ulysses, Pegasus, Damocles, and Jason.
For a researcher in children's literature, perhaps the most intriguing part of the series is the illustrators. Their names are not given on the table of contents page, but are found only on the title page of the individual story. Because of this lack of credit, most of the illustrations done in this series are not mentioned in bibliographies of the artists' work. Thanks to the efforts of art director Diana Klemin, many now-famous illustrators did some of their earliest work in this series, including Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Peter Spier, Barbara Cooney, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, and even Andy Warhol.
Please note that most copies of these books do NOT include the dust jackets. Without, we typically charge $4 for each and this price will be manually adjusted when you order. If you particularly want copies with dust jackets, please call to confirm the copy has one!
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