The 'Abecedarian' of My Favorite Things:
Wild & Wacky Books from the Popuplady's Collection
(reprinted from ABC Newsletter; vol 13, No. 2, Fall 2001)
Ask me to talk about my book collection, and you'll think you have asked someone about their grandchildren. On my face an immediate smile and the offer, "May I show them to you?" Being the 'Popuplady', one would expect me to confine this passion to pop-up books. Not so! After seeing the Yale University exhibition (1988) entitled, Eccentric Books, I co-opted the name for another division of my collection.
My definition of eccentric is one which only I can define. The 'books' tickle my fancy, appealing to some inner funny bone or odd curiosity. They are on unlikely subjects, have removable parts, or become some other object. They need not have pop-ups.
With my favorite books spread all over the room, I asked myself, "How was I to tell you about these disparate and off-beat books? This being theABC Newsletter, what better way than to present them than in alphabetical order?
(Please click on image to enlarge)
I take pride in my Artists' books which are as unique as each artist's viewpoint. For example, Pen in Hand by Sarah Peter, (1996) edition of 125, is an event to read. A singular fabric shirtpocket with a buttoned flap is opened revealing a nerdy plastic pocket-protector in which there is a black plastic pen. When a middle ring is removed, the pen splits into two parts lengthwise on a hinge revealing a series of narrow 'pages' containing quotes on writing by famous people, e.g. "Writing keeps me from believing everything I read."-Gloria Steinem.
Books with punch-outs, 3-D glasses, or any removable parts will have a listing in the "accessory' field of my data base. The most unusual accessory used is the reader's own Body parts! I have several books requiring fingers and hands to enliven the story. A Magic Nose: A Book of Nasal Illusions is the most hilarious. Open any page and put in your nose to complete the picture, e.g. Haägen-Schnoz: put nose in nasal slot and be the flavor du jour.
How shallow my collection would be without the children's Classics! Winnie the Pooh is my all-time favorite but has a unique version among my eccentric books.
It's called, Pooh Unplugged-the psychological profile of 100 Acre Wood. Try to imagine the Pooh gang in S & M gear projecting such personalities as: Piglet, the insecure stutterer; C. Robin, the enabler; Owl with delusions of grandeur. This book gets, well, you know, kinky.
Ahem! Getting back to C.
Clothing is represented by several Bonnie Books (Jack-in-the-book series) in which a person or animal's head and legs unfold around a grommet and each page of the book changes their costume in keeping with the text. The Bonnie book featuring Gabby Hayes will date many of us.
It's hard to express what's so endearing about The Mother and Baby Animal Books series. In these books, the cover is in the mother animal's shape (tiger, kangaroo, bear, gorilla) and has a slit where a die-cut baby, a Doll if you will, is tucked. The child may hold the baby while listening to the story. The illustrations are lush. A warm tableau indeed.
PL8SPK (pronounced Platespeak), defines for me a successful book, that is, a book wherein all elements work together to get its message across. In the shape of a license plate with metal covers, PL8SPK's author writes children's classics and other stories drawing on the one million vanity plates in California, never using the same one twice. For example, LILRED RIDING HOOD: DDANGER DUZZ LURK IN THE WOODS. IKNO. IMAWOLF. MIPREY. CANT MISHER IN THAT NTICING FIRENGN RRRED GETUP, etc. One must do something while Driving in California's legendary traffic!
Earthquake! is another successful book. In addition to all the information about earthquakes, the dioramic cover shows a 4-story building surrounded by trees. Pull the ring extending from the cover and the house and trees rattle and shake creating a loud vibrating sound! Now that's an Experience!
Children will openly express a fascination with bodily Functions. Behold, The Gas We Pass and Terry Toots!, obviously both about Farting. Both books are part of a series on subjects usually not spoken of in polite society and but are as tasteful as one can be considering the subjects.
Few among us remember those prim, cross-legged secretaries taking shorthand, Pittman or Gregg. My Alice in Wonderland and The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle were written as exercises for secretarial students. Eccentric indeed! Pop-up and movable books are referred to as 'toy books'. Several of mine incorporate actual Games. There are those with bead or jigsaw puzzles, spinners, and one particular series, shaped like
Gameboy, with thumb-buttons on the covers.
Bibliography of books from Abecedarian