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Vintage Juvenile Fantasies


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Swift and His Flying Boat, by Victor AppletonThe "fantastic flight" genre grew out of wistfully imagined speculations in an era when the airplane was a new reality and its future possibilities fodder for dreams of invention and exploration. Tom Swift and His Flying Boat; or, The Castaways on the Giant Iceberg (1923) sports a handsome dustwrapper by Walter S. Rogers, depicting Tom's flying boat over an Arctic sea.

CaniffApril Kane and the Dragon Lady: A Terry and the Pirates Adventure (Racine: Whitman, 1942) is based on Milton Caniff's famous newspaper strip about wartime heroism and yellow peril. The bright dustwrapper shows the key characters as portrayed in the strip, and Caniff's illustrations also grace the interior with several full page drawings and pictorial endpapers.

Og Boy of BattleIrving Crump's Og, Boy of Battle (1925) was second of a series of four charming novels about the life of a Missing Link cave youth, the greatest inventor the world has ever known. In the course of the series Og grows from hunter to warrior to governor to agrarian reformer. The dustwrapper by A. Pope is charming, but the frontispiece is something more, a grim portrait of Neanderthal hunters harrassing to death a giant tapir bellowing with fear. It's by Charles Livingston Bull, who also illustrated Jack London's prehistoric biography Before Adam.

Mog the Mound
Builder, by Irving CrumpIrving Crump's Mog, the Mound Builder (1931) is unrelated to his "Og" series. This rare, stand-alone fantasy novel is about prehistroic North American mound builder culture. An introduction by H. C. Shetrone, director of the Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, lends a certain scientific validity to Crump's speculative tale.The jacket and frontis plate are by Remington Schuyler.

Claudius the Bee, by John F. LeemingThis charming frontispiece for John F. Leeming's 1936 fantasy novel Claudius the Bee is supported by many black and white interior illustrations, all by Richard B. Ogle. In this story, a dotty scientist shrinks our young hero. He sets off on remarkable adventures, learning a decided respect for the insect world, and even participates in their wars.

The Prince and His Ants, by Vamba"Vamba" is the pseudonym of Italian fantasist Luigi Bertelli. The Prince and His Ants (1910) tells the tale of a boy who becomes an ant, and a girl who becomes a butterfly. The English translation by one Miss Woodruff was edited by Vernon Kellogg, an insect authority at Stanford University. Ninety interior illustrations are scientifically accurate.

Ventures, by Blanche WadeAnt Ventures is Blanche Elizabeth Wade's 1924 collection of tales about Anthony Ant. It's extravagantly fanciful pictorial binding is by Harrison Cady, who outdoes his more famous work for many of Thornton Burgess's "beasts in britches" tales. The book has lovely pictorial endpapers and numerous interior illustrations likewise by Cady.

Adventure Boys and the River of Emeralds, by Thompson AmesThompson Ames was the pseudonym of Josephine Chase. Her "Adventure Boys" series premiered in 1927. There were five volumes centering around quests for rare jewels, a different gem for each book. The second volume, The Adventure Boys and the River of Emeralds, is the most macabre in the series, set in a hidden canyon of Peru, featuring a fanged dwarf villain worshipped as the Shadow God by Inca Indians. Ernest Townsend provided not only the dustwrapper art, but a sinister frontispiece as well.

Rocket Riders

Howard Garis is best remembered for his Uncle Wiggily books, & though not everyone knows it, he wrote most of the original Tom Swift Senior books under the house name of Appleton. A four-book series of "rocket" fantasies including rockets of land, air, ice, & sea. This one is Rocket Riders in Stormy Seas; or, Trailing the Treasure Divers (Burt, 1933) featuring an ocean-going rocket.

Grinning Ghost

Gordon Chapman's Rex Cole, Jr., and the Grinning Ghost (1931) sports an extravagant pictorial of serpent-wrapped spirit-head, with another portrait of the weird ghost (not shown) dripping down the spine. A young reader could do worse than this occult detective adventure about oriental cult treasure, with some genuinely weird moments, and a sidekick nicknamed "Butt."

Alien from HeavenNathalia Crane's An Alien from Heaven (1929), rich in supernatural incident, was written when she was only sixteen! She began writing at age six. She published collections of verse, and her juvenile love poem "The Janitor's Boy" was a national success for a public amazed by her precocity. Her novel tells of an infant born with wings and the chaos into which this "deformed" child throws a shocked society. In a parallel plotline, a scientifically minded protagonist must choose between rationalism or acknowledging the powers of a beautiful sorceress.

Rope of Gold
by Roy SnellAfter journeying about the Carribean, Roy J. Snell wrote a fantasy adventure of voodoo and lost treasure in old Haiti. The Rope of Gold (1929) had the good luck of a handsome dustwrapper depicting a gigantic ghostly figure attacking a hilltop jungle citadel. The inner flap copy carries a startling biographical note on Snell.

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