Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Children at the Pole, with Penguins

The illustrated cover of "The Children at the Pole."
Jack and Jill went up... to where? To the North Pole, naturally. We just acquired a very odd little book published not long after Cook purportedly reached the North Pole. The Children of the North Pole (London: George Harrap, 1914) is a sing-song verse describing the journey of parka clad Jack and Jill on their adventure to find the Pole. Along the way they ski, meet up with Eskimos, and encounter a friendly polar bear. But it is the trip home with the biggest surprise: dog sledding along they find themselves on Penguin Island.

Two illustrated pages of children sledding and walking to penguins.
The book's accordion fold structure allows it to open into kind of panorama. If you turn the book over and start reading from the other side, a prose version of the same story is told without pictures. In the prose version the penguins are explained. They came all they way north to congratulate the children and "to see whether the North Pole is like the South Pole." To Jack's question of whether there was a difference, the oldest penguin replied, "it is exactly like the South Pole, only it is day-time here when it is night with us."

A fold-out set of illustrated pages from "The Children of the North Pole."
Come take the journey by asking for Stef G614.C35 1914.

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