Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Craig's Bookshelf: L. Frank Baum's Pseudonymous Books (Part Two)

The Twinkle Tales were written for younger readers
Unlike most of L. Frank Baum's pseudonymous works, the books by Laura Bancroft were written for a younger audience than the Oz books. Reilly & Britton simultaneously published the six "Twinkle Tales" in 1906: Bandit Jim Crow, Mr. Woodchuck, Prairie Town-Dog, Prince Mud-Turtle, Sugar-Loaf Mountain, and Twinkle's Enchantment. When Reilly & Lee reissued the books, they bore the following blurb on the back cover:

The Twinkle Tales

Interesting stories of the adventures of Twinkle and her chum, Chubbins, with Mr. Woodchuck, Bandit Jim Crow, Prince Mud-Turtle, The Prairie-Dogs and other curious characters.

While these are not fairy tales they have the imaginative and fantastic twists that always fascinate children from five to ten years old, whose greatest happiness is in the wonderful land of "make-believe."

The author has a vein of humor of the quaint kind that delights the little folk.

Each book contains fifteen full pages in colors and a multi-color title page by the noted artist Maginel Wright Enright.
The Twinkle Tales in a single volume: Twinkle and Chubbins
The Twinkle Tales are quite small. Each volume measures just 6 15/16 x 5 1/8 inches and runs a little more than 60 pages. Enright's illustrations are simple yet charming. The flat perspective makes them more similar in style to drawings by W.W. Denslow than John R. Neill. (An interesting side note: Enright was the younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect.)

The Twinkle Tales are certainly the best written of Baum's pseudonymous stories, a fact he recognized himself. In a letter to Frank Reilly in 1915 Baum wrote, "I have always considered [them] among my best stories." In 1911 Reilly & Britton reprinted the Twinkle Tales in a single volume titled Twinkle and Chubbins.

The only book-length story by Laura Bancroft was Policeman Bluejay, which came out in 1907. The publisher reissued the book in 1911 with the new title of Babes in Birdland. It printed the story under this new title again in 1917, but this time credited Baum as the author.
The final printing of Babes in Birdland credited Baum as the author
Policeman Bluejay is a scarce and difficult title. A further challenge for collectors is finding the story in decent condition; all three printings were issued in paper-covered boards, which are prone to wear and rubbing at the corners.


ericshanower said...

Policeman Bluejay is not that scarce or difficult a title to find. It's in print from a couple print-on-demand sources. Also, nicer editions have been published by Scholars Facsimiles and Hungry Tiger Press, although those both seem to be out of print now, but can probably be found on the secondary market.

Anonymous said...

The Scholars Facsimiles versions were rather expensive even when they were in print; they seemed to have been produced for the academic library market.