Classic Illustrations for Travelers:
Childhood Books Fuel Travel Dreams
After a recent pilgrimage to see Christopher Milne’s original stuffed Pooh Bear, Piglet, Kanga and Eeyore at the New York Public Library, I started thinking about classic books I still own from my childhood. My parents and grandparents handed down many of these artfully illustrated treasures. For years, I also received large picture books of fairy and folk tales for every birthday. Along with my parents’ complete set of the World Book Encyclopedia (which took up the entire bottom shelf of one six-foot-long bookcase), these classics inspired me to explore the world, both imagined and real. Patched with yellowing library tape, many have been loved to tatters over the years. To preserve them, I keep them in a dark cupboard and handle them as little as possible. Here are a few illustrations and quotes from my collection that pinpoint the origins of many of my adult interests and travel passions.
Paleontology, Natural history, Evolution and Geologic Time
This story…tells how people from Europe sailed across the ocean and found a new land.
From America Begins: The Story of the Finding of the New World, Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Lois Maloy, copyright 1938, Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Wordplay, Poetry, Nonsense and Humor
Norse Mythology, Winter Adventures, Vikings, Norway and Other Northern Lands
Far up in the north the sun is afraid to show his pale face in winter. But the moon and the stars love the sparkling frost.
From Ola, Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, copyright 1932, Doubleday & Co.
Lush, Moody Seascapes in Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the U.S.
Take a farewell look at the waves and sky. Take a farewell sniff of the salty sea. A little bit sad about the place you are leaving; a little bit glad about the place you are going. It is a time of quiet wonder–for wondering, for instance: Where do hummingbirds go in a hurricane?
From Time of Wonder (Viking Kestrel picture books), Robert McCloskey, copyright 1957, The Viking Press, Inc.
Maps and Memorable Characters (like Eeoyre, Quoted Below)
Everybody crowds round so in this Forest. There’s no Space. I never saw a more Spreading lot of animals in my life, and in all the wrong places.
From The House At Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne, illustrated by E. H. Shepard, copyright 1928, Methuen & Co., Ltd.
Bookstores, Libraries and Special Collections Around the World
If you can find any of these books (some of which date from my mother’s childhood and are no longer in print) at a local library, I recommend you not settle for excerpts. Spend some time reading them and feeding your dreams with the lavish pictures and stories that can only be found in children’s books from the eras when publishers were not so cost- and market-driven. If you can’t find physical copies, you might be able to browse archives at various libraries online. For more about A.A. Milne, read The Enchanted Places: A Memoir of the Real Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh.Ellen Girardeau Kempler, All rights Reserved. Written For: Gold Boat Journeys