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Most print encyclopedias are pretty much relegated to landfill fodder, with a few charming exceptions. The 1949 Childcraft Encyclopedia (LB1025.C56) is in the latter category. First published in 1936, Childcraft suffered from unclear audience identification. An early review suggested, "The chief field for Childcraft is perhaps that home or elementary school which is remote from library facilities, or the smaller school where the curriculum is not well defined and teachers lack training." (???) While later editions received praise for “anthological” content of poetry and fairy tales, as well as for the its many illustrations, it was described as being “only peripherally a reference book.”
Why take a look? Okay, v. 2, Storytelling and Other Poems, offers cool verses by the famous and not-so-much, like A.A.Milne, Keats and Blake and Annette Wynne, while v. 1, Poems of Early Childhood, is even better, with Vachel Lindsay’s delightful “The Moon’s the North Wind’s Cookie:”
The Moon’s the North Wind’s cookie,
He bites it day by day,
Until there’s but a rim of scraps
That crumble all away.
The South Wind is a baker.
He kneads clouds in his den.
And bakes a crisp new moon that—greedy
Students and scholars of History, Education, Sociology, Women’s Studies, Anthropology, Art, and others might find something of use, even if it is to squirm at antiquated, politically incorrect terms, or to admire the beautiful illustrations.
Baby Boomers will find these volumes reminiscent of the old Dick and Jane books that were widely used in public schools during the 1950's, while younger readers may find them arcane, humorous, and naïve. See what you think the next time you browse the LB section, on the middle floor of the library.
P.S. STL is missing v.7. Exploring the world around us.--v. 8. Creative play and hobbies.
Quinn, Mary Ellen. "Childcraft: The How and Why Library." Booklist 15 Sept. 2001: 252. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.