Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Turned-Into's by Elizabeth Gordon

Back in 1920, when this wonderful little book was published, the world was simpler, smaller and more genteel. In this beautiful children's book, Jane Elizabeth discovers the Garden Folk. Elizabeth Gordon is one of the best children's book writers of her time, and Janet Laura Clark one of the most incredible illustrators. The dedication of this book tells a lot: This little book is dedicated to all children who love to work in gardens, and who enjoy the big out-of-doors and the little friends who live there...
How These Stories Became
"What is the Country, Daddy?" inquired Jane Elizabeth.
"It is a big place, all out-of-doors, like the park, only bigger," said Daddy, "and there are birds and bees and butterflies and moths and bugs, besides Grass-hoppers and Katy-dids and many other things; all wild and free with no cages for anything to live in.
"And there are wild flowers, and you could have a garden of your own. Shall we go, Lady Bug?" he asked.
"Oh, Daddy, let's!" said Jane Elizabeth.
And that's how these stories became!
Jane Elizabeth goes to the country and becomes lonesome and bored, until she begins to notice the little garden folk. The "turned-into's" are the little bugs and butterflies that start out one way and turn into something else. Metamorphisis of insects and frogs and the like is quite nicely explained in a wonderful illustrated story. But the real treasures here, are Gordon's lovely prose and poems, and the almost surreal beauty of Scott's depictions of all the garden folk. Among my favorites are these jamming crickets and cicadas!Janet Laura Scott was clearly influenced by the Asian impact on American artists, as her illustrations have that look so often associated with Japanese wood-blocks.
The Turned-Into's, Jane Elizabeth discovers the Garden Folk, by Elizabeth Gordon, Illustrated by Janet Laura Scott. The copy we have is a somewhat beat-up first edition, published by P.F. Volland Company in 1920 as one of the Volland "Nature Children Books" series.

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