A Picture Story Book for the Young

London: Dean and Son, [N.D.].

Playful on the surface, Howitt's book presents children with important lessons about gender equality, mutual respect, and the dangers of patriarchal attitudes to those with less power

(Item #5745) A Picture Story Book for the Young. Mary Howitt.

A Picture Story Book for the Young

London: Dean and Son, [N.D.]. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in gilt and blind. Measuring 210 x 170mm and complete in 68 pages with 15 hand-colored plates throughout. Some sunning to spine and boards, but gilt remaining bright. Recased with endpapers renewed. Internally a pleasing example, with occasional light foxing. An uncommon illustrated children's book, which OCLC records at only one library (University of Liverpool); it does not appear in the modern auction record, and the present is the only copy in trade.

"Educated at hom and in Quaker schools, Mary Howitt wrote poetry from a very early age"; and following her marriage to William Howitt, she was further encouraged to pursue her creative endeavors on a professional level (Cengage). Howitt's successful writing career brought her into circles that included Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and the Brownings. Like these famed writers, her work often interlaced observations on the natural world with poetry and illustration; a key difference, however, was her focus on juvenile audiences and younger children in particular. In this way, her commitment to social reform and feminist activism was carried down to rising generations who might benefit from a fairer, more equitable approach to gender.

The present work participates in this mission. Divided into halves, it depicts boys and girls mingling together, and mutually engaging in physical play as well as more mature and educated pursuits. The first portion contains stories about the adventures shared (and lessons learned) by country boys Jack and Harry, and the young Celestine who was sent outside the city by her parents to recover her health. Fresh air and animal friends enrich Celestine's life. Meanwhile, Jack and Henry learn from her that they should respect the natural world and not view themselves as dominators but as stewards. The second portion of the book takes a different approach to storytelling. Rather than a straightforward narrative form, it is epistolary and contains five letters written by Celestine's cousin Arthur to his sister Mary. In these missives, he gleefully recounts playtime with Celestine as well as her friends George and Adele. Less rooted in the country or in a single locality, Arthur's letters hint at how children's lives are shaped by imperialism and conflict they have yet to understand or engage in -- for we find that Celestine's father is a military officer who has been based in India, and her playmates are the orphans of one of his brothers in arms.

Playful on the surface, Howitt's book gently tackles more than one might expect -- and it contains important themes about gender equality, mutual respect, and the dangers of patriarchal attitudes to those with less power.
(Item #5745)

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A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young
A Picture Story Book for the Young