Children's Books 1960-1969
The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen by Alan GarnerAuthor Alan Garner wrote the children's fantasy novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen: A Tale of Alderley in 1957, after he moved into a late medieval house called Toad Hall in Chesire. He used a local legend known as The Wizard of the Edge, as a partial basis for the plot of the book and its 1963 sequel, The Moon of Gomrath. The first edition was published by Collins in 1960. Although Garner eventually came to dislike his book and its characters, the Weirdstone series has kept quite a following of fans who were finally granted the third book in the series, Boneland, in 2012.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961, James and the Giant Peach was written by the British novelist, poet, and fighter pilot Roald Dahl. This was the second children’s book published by Dahl, although his biography in the first printings states that it is his first children’s book. In 1943 Random House published his actual first, The Gremlins, a children’s story based on Royal Air Force lore. The Gremlins had 14 full-page illustrations by the Walt Disney Company, who had planned on making the book into a movie. The first edition of James and the Giant Peach was illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert - her first published illustrations. Burkert went on to illustrate works by Hans Christian Andersen, Meindert De Jong, John Updike, and she was awarded a Caldecott Honor for her rendition of the Brothers Grimm Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. True first editions of James and the Giant Peach will have the five-line colophon on the last page that includes “Bound by H. Wolff, New York,” and a $3.95 price printed on the front flap (later printings may have a 4 line colophon with Bound by Book Press). Signed first editions can list from $5,000 to over $10,000 depending on condition.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
First published January 1st, 1962 by Ariel Books in New York, A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Award in 1963. After L’Engle completed the book in 1960 it was reportedly rejected by at least 26 publishers, mainly because it was ‘too different’, with its female protagonist and the children’s bold confrontation of evil. The book, in both hardback and paperback, has been in continuous print since its publication over fifty years ago. The original jacket was designed by Ellen Raskin, a children’s author and illustrator herself, who won the Newbery Medal in 1979 for her book The Westing Game. The triumph of love over evil in this story has proven to be a powerful literary force in the life of many young people throughout the decades.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Published by The Viking Press in 1962, The Snowy Day was the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. The author found inspiration for the main character, Peter, in a clipping from a 1940 Life magazine article that featured a small boy about 3 or 4 years old. Keats also drew on his own reminiscence of a childhood growing up in Brooklyn and the joy brought by the first snow of the year. In 1963 Keats was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in the book, which were created using a collage technique out of bright scraps of paper.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
First published by Harper & Row in 1963, true first editions of Where the Wild Things Are have no mention of the Caldecott Award and a $3.95 price on the dust flap. This 338-word story about Max, who behaves badly and is sent to bed without his supper, transports the reader with wild and vivid illustrations to a magical place ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’ There Max rules, and a wild rumpus, 3 full, 2-page spreads of howling and dancing and tree-swinging, ensues. Max then commands the monsters to stop and sends them to bed without their supper. Left feeling lonely, Max returns home to find his warm supper waiting for him. Since children’s literature at the time was filled with pretty little boys and girl, minding their parents and learning valuable lessons, Sendak was remarkable in that he wrote and drew willful, stubborn children who had irregular bodily proportions and real emotions. One of the best-selling children’s books of all time, a first edition of Where The Wild Things Are is a rare and desirable find; signed copies in fine condition can sell for more than $20,000.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Published by Harper & Row in 1964 in a small first edition run of between 5,000 and 7,500, The Giving Tree has gone on to sell more than 5 million copies in the decades since. Shel Silverstein, a cartoonist famous for his work in Playboy magazine, initially had trouble finding a publisher for his manuscript. Many of the rejections called it too sad for children and too simple for adults. Ursula Nordstrom, whose motto as the publisher and editor-in-chief of juvenile books at Harper & Row was ‘good books for bad children,’ urged Silverstein to move forward with the book. Silverstein followed the success of The Giving Tree with other best-selling children’s books, most notably the poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974) and A Light in the Attic (1981). In addition to his Playboy cartoons and best-selling children’s books, Silverstein wrote popular songs for famous musicians like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. True first editions of The Giving Tree feature a full torso photo of the author (with hair) on the back left half of the jacket.
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
First published by Jonathan Cape in the UK in 1965, the first edition of Over Sea, Under Stone has illustrations by Margery Gill. This book came as a response to a contest honoring E. Nesbit that was looking for a family adventure story. The author didn’t finish it for the contest, and the story was turned down by 20 publishers before it was picked up by a friend reading manuscripts for Jonathan Cape in London. It is the first title in the acclaimed ‘Dark is Rising’ Series, which contains many elements of Arthurian legend, Nordic and Celtic mythology, and English folklore, while telling the story of the Drew siblings' quest for good against evil.
The Jazz Man by Mary Hays Weik
Published by Atheneum in 1966, this Newbery Honor book was written by Mary Hays Weik and illustrated with woodcuts by Ann Grifalconi, her daughter. The Jazz Man tells the story of a young boy named Zeke, whose family has migrated to Harlem from the South. One of Zeke’s legs is shorter than the other, and he struggles up the five flights of stairs to the family’s apartment. His mother often struggles up the same stairs, tired and overworked. The family finds refuge in the music of ‘The Jazz Man’ who lives below them.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Published by Viking Press in 1967, The Outsiders was written by S.E. Hinton while she was in high school, and published when she was just 18. The coming-of-age novel depicts rivalry between two high school gangs, the working-class ‘greasers’ and the well-to-do ‘Socs’ (short for Socials) told in the first person by ‘outsider’ Ponyboy. The novel was adapted into a film by Francis Ford Coppola in 1983 starring Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, and Diane Lane.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy was first published by Viking Press in 1968, although the publisher initially rejected the story. After submitted to multiple other publishers, author Don Freeman went back to Viking, who agreed to publish the book. This sweet story about a bear in green overalls waiting for a friend to take him home has since sold almost 20 million copies. The author, whose father called him Corduroy as a pet name when he was young, highlights the difference between the luxury of the department store and the simple lives of everyday people by showing the bear wandering through the store at night, looking for his missing button. In 1978 a sequel called A Pocket for Corduroy was published just after Don Freeman passed away.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
First published by World Publishing Company in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was later published by Penguin Putnam. This picture book features a caterpillar who eats his way through a variety of food before emerging as a butterfly. As the caterpillar progresses he explores foods, days of the week, and the life stages of the butterfly. This classic story has sold more than 46 million copies in 65 languages. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was Eric Carle’s 2nd solely authored and illustrated book (the first book he wrote and illustrated was 1 2 3 to the Zoo in 1968, and he had illustrated five previous books, including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? Over his lifetime Carle has illustrated over 70 books, most of which he also authored, using his unique collage illustration technique. First editions with dust jacket can list around $5,000 depending on the condition and will have a number line reading 1-5 on the copyright page, A3450 code on the rear, and only World Publishing Company as the publisher. Signed copies can list for almost $10,000.
Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.