Friday, October 7, 2011

First Friday's Just For Fun: Old Children's Books

Old Check Out Cards

I remember the first time I was allowed into the archives at the public library near where I grew up. I didn't actually get to touch anything, but I remember the scent. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about - the slightly sweet, almost bready scent of really old books. I love that scent. And I love old books.

I'm especially fond of old children's books about cats, so, since it's the first Friday of the month, here are some of my favorites:

Jenny and the Cat Club

Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill. The protagonist of this book is a little black cat, Jenny Linsky, who wants to join the cat club that meets behind her house, but to be a member you have to have a special talent. Jenny eventually teaches herself to ice skate. When she performs this feat for the members of the cat club, she does so while wearing a lovely red scarf that her owner, the sea captain, knitted for her. Yes, she gets to join the club.

Averill wrote many Jenny Linsky books, and I own most of them. Some of them are original runs, most are reprints. In all, the drawings are charming, as is the writing. Jenny and the Cat Club is so much fun.

Ophelia the Cat

Ophelia the Cat by J. I. Rodale. This is a particularly weird one. All the cats are anthropomorphized. The cat for whom the book is named is a very chic, urban girl cat. She has to go out into the world and learn the facts of feline life. As beautiful as it is strange.


Mee-Yow by Lee Priestly. This is the book that started my obsession for old children's books about cats. Mee-Yow, as you can see from the cover, is a Siamese kitten. During the course of the story, Mee-Yow spots a stray kitten outside and starts making a ruckus that is so loud that even the police come to investigate. At the end of the story, the stray is adopted into the family and named Mee-Too. Corny word play and hokey pictures? Yes, please.

Am I a librarian because I love old books or do I love old books because I'm a librarian? The world may never know.

How about you? What kinds of books do you collect?


  1. The old books I have a weakness for are old syndicated children's series from the 1910s and 1920s - the Meadowbrook Girls, the Campfire Girls, the Adventure Girls, and Grace Harlowe, etc. I particularly like the series where they get older and go off to college, and you get a little glimpse of what college life may have been like in 1915 or thereabouts......

  2. @Kirsten - that's what I love about these books, especially the Jenny Linsky books. It gives you a look into the culture at that time.

  3. Apparently college in those days involved a lot of late-night cocoa parties using an illegal hot plate in someone's room. :)