In the Spotlight, March – April 2017

In the Spotlight, March – April 2017

Each month an item or group of items from the book, archives, manuscript or artifact holdings of Special Collections and Archives is selected for display in the Reading Room. The spotlight for March and April (combining because of Spring Break!) is on early editions of three children’s books that have been adapted into popular movies.

The Little White Bird or Adventures in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1902).

Peter Pan, a young flying boy who never wanted to grow up, first appeared in this book as a story within a story.

“Well, Peter Pan got out by the window, which had no bars. Standing on the ledge he could see trees far away, which were doubtless the Kensington Gardens, and the moment he saw them he entirely forgot that he was now a little boy in a nightgown, and away he flew, right over the houses to the Gardens.”

A few years later, the Peter Pan chapters were published as the book Peter Pan in Kensington Garden.  The character’s popularity led Barrie to write the successful 1904 play Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up and then the novel Peter Pan and Wendy in 1911.

Since then, others have adapted Peter Pan’s stories into a wide variety of books, movies, plays and musicals.

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (New York: The Century Co., c1894) and The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; decorated by John Lockwood Kipling (New York: The Century Co., 1895).

The Jungle Book stories were among the first children’s books written by English author Rudyard Kipling, a former newspaper reporter who was well-known for his short stories and poems.  The tales of the Indian boy Mowgli, who is raised by wolves and learns how to survive from jungle animals, originally were published as a series of magazine stories.  Kipling’s Jungle Book stories have been adapted into a half dozen movies between 1942 and 2018.

“Sometimes Bagheera the Black Panther would come lounging through the jungle to see how his pet was getting on, and would purr with his head against a tree while Mowgli recited the day’s lesson to Baloo. The boy could climb almost as well as he could swim, and swim almost as well as he could run. So Baloo, the Teacher of the Law, taught him the Wood and Water Laws: how to tell a rotten branch from a sound one; how to speak politely to the wild bees when he came upon a hive of them fifty feet above ground; what to say to Mang the Bat when he disturbed him in the branches at midday; and how to warn the water-snakes in the pools before he splashed down among them.”

The first American edition of The Second Jungle Book in Special Collections and Archives features illustrations by Rudyard Kipling’s father John Lockwood Kipling, an artist and teacher.

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The Adventures of Pinocchio by C. Collodi; illustrations in colors by Attilio Mussino (New York: Macmillan, 1926)

Pinocchio was created by Italian author Carlo Lorenzini under the pen name Carlo Collodi.  Lorenzini was a journalist who had written novels, plays and political sketches, founded a satirical newspaper and translated French fairy tales. The story of a wooden puppet who wanted to become a real boy was written as a dark moral tale warning of tragic consequences for bad behavior and not obeying.  It first was published in installments in a magazine for children in 1881.  The Adventures of Pinocchio first appeared in book form in 1883. Since then, Pinocchio’s stories have been translated into many languages, adapted into multiple books and films, and depicted in works of art.

“But the Cricket, who was a wise old philosopher, instead of being offended at Pinocchio’s impudence, continued in the same tone:

“If you do not like going to school, why don’t you at least learn a trade, so that you can earn an honest living?”

“Shall I tell you something?” asked Pinocchio, who was beginning to lose patience. “Of all the trades in the world, there is only one that really suits me.”

“And what can that be?”

“That of eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, and wandering around from morning till night.”

“Let me tell you, for your own good, Pinocchio,” said the Talking Cricket in his calm voice, “that those who follow that trade always end up in the hospital or in prison.”

“Careful, ugly Cricket! If you make me angry, you’ll be sorry!”

“Poor Pinocchio, I am sorry for you.”

“Why?”

“Because you are a Marionette and, what is much worse, you have a wooden head.”

At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket.

Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head.

With a last weak “cri-cri-cri” the poor Cricket fell from the wall, dead!”

The 1926 American edition on display features illustrations by Attilio Mussino who illustrated the first color edition of The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1911.