A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
OCTOBER 1:

  • Happy birthday Julie Andrews Edwards (Mandy).
  • Happy birthday to National Geographic magazine, first published in 1888.
  • It’s Halloween Safety Month. Lots of time to practice before the big day!
  • National Book Month begins as well.
  • During Squirrel Awareness Month, read the Scaredy Squirrel series by Melanie Watt.
  • It’s Fire Pup Day.

On October 1, 1942, a brave new experiment in publishing was launched as collaboration between Simon & Schuster and Western Printing and Lithograph Company. The project was described as “a new series of 25 cent books for children,” with an initial print run of 600,000 copies each. Carried in independent bookstores, these volumes also made their way into department stores like Marshall Field’s, Macy’s, and Gimbels, before eventually ending up at corner grocery stories across the land where they were purchased by millions.

The philosophy behind the Golden Books—and they were indeed golden for their publisher—was to provide parents and children with books by the best artists and writers of the day at a very affordable price. So successful was the imprint at attracting talent (people like Margaret Wise Brown, Ruth Krauss, the Provensens, Garth Williams, and Richard Scarry among other) and at getting the books distributed, that most home libraries of the fifties consisted entirely of Golden Books. Each had a bookplate with “This Little Golden Book Belongs to” printed on the interior front cover where many of the baby boom generation enthusiastically inscribed their names. That first list saw the publication of the bestselling picture book in the United States of all time, The Poky Little Puppy; and other classic titles soon followed: The Color Kittens, Mister Dog, and Rojankovsky’s The Three Bears. Although the paper might have been a bit thin, the art itself was glorious.

Over the years, as I have spoken to audiences across the country, one title seems to have attracted more long-term devotees than most of the others, Margaret Wise Brown’s The Sailor Dog. Grown men often want to discuss it; sometimes their wives say simply, “He’s Scuppers, you know!” Written toward the end of Brown’s career and with artwork by Garth Williams, the book seems to have inspired a desire to sail among many young boys. Scuppers the Sailor Dog loves being out at sea; he keeps everything in its place in a snug bunk. Shipwrecked, he builds a hut, patches his boat, finds more supplies in a foreign land, and heads out: “And here he is where he wants to be—a sailor sailing the deep green sea.”

But many other Golden Books also have their devotees. In Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, Steve Forbes discusses The Golden Bible for Children and three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner reminisces on The Animal Book by the Provensens. David Macaulay, who eventually explained the world in The Way Things Work, still owns his copy of The Golden Book of Science for Boys and Girls.

Happy 69th birthday Golden Books. I learned to love reading with these small volumes—as did so many other children.

Here’s a page from Sailor Dog:

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Originally posted October 1, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Dogs, Sailing, Sports
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Sailor Dog
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COMMENTS

  1. grace says:

    Thanks for the great site, could you add easy way to reference all the books you have already reviewed (by book title or year published). As a child librarians were my favorite people thanks for promoting great books just as they did.

  2. Anita says:

    Grace: On the left-hand side of the page, you’ll find the archives. There you can search the database many ways, by type of book, author, date. It is an easy feature to use.

  3. Rusty True Browder says:

    Thanks, Anita. And I must mention by name The Tawny, Scrawny Lion and The Color Kittens, both formative for me.

  4. G.Perry says:

    I started seeing these Little Golden Books only as an adult, long after they came out, and I was delighted they were so beautiful in craft and story, and the price was too good to be true. Well, it was true.

    The only other value like this I’ve seen is in the merit badge books at Scout stores.

    I’m going to find all the titles mentioned and just sail off somewhere quite, and read them.

  5. Laura says:

    What a wonderful post today! I remember Little Golden Books so fondly. Not only from my own childhood, but also from reading them to my children.
    I’ve recently discovered Little Golden Books Classics and have been buying my favorites…because someday I plan to share them with my grandchildren!

  6. Sarah says:

    My favorite Golden Books are The Color Kittens and the Poky Little Puppy. I have my Dad’s copies from when he was a child and it was so neat to have books that he read and loved.

    I must also add that Monday is Scaredy Squirrel’s birthday according to Watt’s newest book.

  7. Anita says:

    Thanks for the Golden Book memories so far. Sarah: Thanks for Scaredy Squirrel’s birthday — duly noted on the Almanac. I am currently hunting for children’s book character’s birthdays, so I am happy when any reader sends them my way.

  8. Barb says:

    Golden Books republished The Color Kittens with new artwork–horrors!
    I managed to find one with the Provensen artwork in a used bookstore–my favorite!

  9. Julie says:

    My favorite Golden Book was Little Red Riding Hood. I had five brothers and sisters, but Red was all mine!

  10. Helen Frost says:

    I also loved the “Golden Nature Guides”–insects, flowers, seashells of the world, etc. My hardcover copy of INSECTS has my name written in what looks like 5-or-6-year-old printing. I still use it!

  11. Arita says:

    The thrill for me on the MAZZA trip to Minnesota was to actually see the original artwork of THE POKEY LITTLE PUPPY! That is a memory I cherish.

  12. Anita says:

    Arita: That is one of the great gems of the Kerlan Collection; I myself looked at it in awe.

  13. Mary D says:

    My favorite Little Golden Book was titled, I think, Christmas in the Country. It was about Betty and Bob going by train and by sleigh to visit Grandmother and Grandfather for Christmas. The best part was the animals in the barn getting ready for their Christmas. The cows used their horns to hold spools of ribbon as they wrapped packages.
    Charming. There was also a really great one about a little girl going to the circus, staying all day, and riding home on Daddy’s shoulders. I keep my eyes open for them at antique stores and used book sales, but no luck yet.

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