February 2012 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Aleph-Bet Books

Catalogue Review: Aleph-Bet Books, #100

Screen shot 2012-02-16 at 10.49.27 PM.pngEarlier this week Scholastic's Parent & Child Magazine ranked the "100 Greatest Books for Kids." How and why? You can read about their methodology here, but in essence, they winnowed down a selection of five hundred considering "literary and/or illustration excellence, popularity, and longevity or innovative freshness."

As I happened to be perusing the newest catalogue from Aleph-Bet Books of Pound Ridge, NY, a long-time specialist in fine children's and illustrated books, it was interesting to note the overlap.

For example, No. 1 on Scholastic's list is Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. It should come as no surprise to see this book in the top spot, and it was one of the most collectible children's books. Aleph-Bet has an inscribed first edition ($28,500). No. 17 on the Scholastic list is Dorothy's Kunhardt's Pat the Bunny, still a favorite seventy-two years after publication. Aleph-Bet has a fine copy in the publisher's box from 1940 ($5,000). No. 20 on the Scholastic list is Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Aleph-Bet has a signed first edition with an original poem by Silverstein on the endpapers ($2,500). You see what I'm getting at here!

But the other great thing about this catalogue is the extensive variety. So while the high spots are here, there are also some wonderful surprises. I, for one, was glad to see Elizabeth Coatsworth's Night and the Cat, this copy with laid-in handwritten note from the author to a fan ($950). I enjoyed being introduced to a Bauhaus children's book, Mein Vogel Paradies by Carl Ernst Hinkefuss, published in Berlin in 1929. A limited and signed copy with incredible modernist illustrations ($12,000).  And the limited edition copy of Gertrude Stein's The World is Round signed by both the author and Clement Hurd, the illustrator, is also a treat ($1,800).

With 600 items to see in this 100th catalogue, all in full-color, you are bound to miss something great. So go back and look again: http://www.alephbet.com/catalogs.php.