Mud Pies and other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow and Erik Blegvad, in addition to being a MUST HAVE book for all little girls, provides me with the chance to talk about two really cool new/old things out there in the world of kid's books. First cool thing: I discovered this blog while doing research for my review of this Mud Pies. Vintage Kid's Books My Kid Loves author Burgin Streetman began the blog in 2007 and it is an amazing archive of her finds for her young son, most of which are long out of print but many of which you may recognize from your childhoods. You can read an interview with her here. But, for a great review of this book and images of Burgin's well used, childhood copy of this book, click here. Second cool thing: The New York Review of Books, a bi-weekly publication that is much more than just a review of books. The New York Review of Books Children's Collection first caught my eye with Esther Averill's books about the little black cat in the red scarf from my childhood, Jenny Linsky.
Next up, Russell and Lillian Hoban (creators of the Frances the Badger, another childhood favorite of mine - I will never forget that original mean girl, Thelma, and how Frances stood up for herself and stayed friends with her) The Sorely Trying Day. The illustrations evoke the Victorian Era, but the (sometimes) stress of being s stay-at-home mom is timeless. And, I cannot go without mentioning the amazing Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. You may know them for their classic bestselling collection of Greek myths for children, but they also wrote and illustrated collections of Norse myths, biographies of historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Christopher Columbus, story collections about animals and trolls and picture books like TOO BIG, The Two Cars and the Terrible Troll Bird, both of which have been reissued in the Children's Collection. I could go on and happily tell you about all of the books (for ages 3 - 14) that they have published thus far, but I will curb my enthusiasm and leave you with a short list of authors of famous works with lesser known titles reissued by NYRB Children's Collection: Munro Leaf, TH White, E Nesbit, James Thurber, Ruth Krauss and Rumer Godden.
The first cover image is the original for Mud Pies and Other Recipes. Next, the cover for the picture book, showcasing Blegvad's style that is evocative of Hilary Knight and Joan Walsh Anglund. All three artists work in pen and ink with color enrichment from time to time and capture the simplicity of the past and the playfulness of childhood, much the way Garth Williams did, but with a slightly more urban flair. The third cover is what the new, gorgeous, hardback edition looks like.
The best thing about Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls is that Winslow takes her subject and children completely seriously, much the way Betty MacDonald did with her excellent Mrs Piggle Wiggle quartet. There is a table of contents which is as follows: Appetizers, Soups, Salads and Sandwiches, Main Dishes, Pastries and Desserts, Beverages, Suggested Menus. A forward to the cookbook begins, "This is a cookbook for dolls. It is written for kind climates and summertime. It is an outdoor cookbook, because dolls dote on mud, when properly prepared. They love the crunch of pine needles and the sweet feel of seaweed on the tongue. The marketplace, then, will be a forest or a sand dune or your own back yard."
A sample recipe from the "main dish" section is as follows:
Recipe for: LEAVES EN BROCHETTE
Using a pencil for a skewer, spear as many different leaves as you can find. Alternate the kinds and, if possible, the colors. In a sunny place, rest the skewer on two forked sticks so that it can be turned occasionally in the sun. This is a particularly tasty dish in the autumn.
Other recipes include Roast Rocks, Fried Water, Grilled Mud Sandwich, Sandbox Sandwich, Seesaw Salad, Pencil Sharpener Pudding, Chalk Shake, Rainspout Tea and Boiled Buttons. I could seriously list the whole contents of the book, each recipe name is so thoroughly entertaining, but I won't. Winslow clearly has a sharp imagination as well as a precise memory for some of the crazy concoctions kids can cook up. Don't even ask about the "formula" I whipped up to feed my baby doll when I was seven. Just let me say, it was one of those babies who you could really "feed" and she would wet her diaper. After ingesting my "formula," my baby never smelled right again. Fortunately, none of Winslow's recipes will leave hungry dolls with upset stomachs or stinky breath...
A sample menu for SUMMER LUNCHEON:
Iced Rainspout Tea