I adore children’s books, especially when they have pictures! After all, I’m not that far away from the window of childhood myself.*
*If you just rolled your eyes, you must at the very least admit that I’m very much a kid at heart.
So many books for kids meet my basic requirement for what is great… they have a tendency to be profoundly trivial! The most fascinating types were published in (quelle surprise) the Victorian era. Some of my favorites are from a genre called Nonsense Verse books. These books are like they sound. They are written in some form of rhyme, usually poems or limericks. They tell tall tales of an author’s invention or reconstruct classic fairy tales. Although meant for kids, they were immensely popular with people of all ages, like today’s books for Young Adults.
My favorite thing about Nonsense Verse books, aside from the absurd wordplay, is that many of them include fantastic, intricately-illustrated works of art alongside the stories, which adds a crazy layer of complexity to the simple subject matter.
The King of all Nonsense Verse was a gentleman named Edward Lear. Like so many profoundly trivial people I adore, Mr. Lear was an Englishman. A multi-talented artist, he had his hand in a little bit of everything and worked as an illustrator, musician and author. His Nonsense Books of prose and poetry were the most popular and lasting of his creations, especially his limericks. (Limericks of the non-dirty variety, mind you. Remember, he did write mostly for children!)
Some of Lear’s stories have become treasured classics and still widely read and cherished even today. A Book of Nonsense (1846) or Nonsense Songs and Stories (1870) are two examples.
A modern example of a Nonsense Verse book would be The Cat in the Hat, written by one of the great maestros of nonsensical silliness, Doctor Seuss.
Wanna see what all this stuff and nonsense is about?
Here is a Nonsense Verse story by Edward Lear about a highly unlikely pair of friends, The Owl and the Pussycat.
(Just click on the book below to open it in your browser, then click the arrows to flip through.)
The Owl & the Pussycat
This is an Ebook reproduction of the classic tale of The Owl and the Pussycat, originally published in Nonsense Songs by Edward Lear, 1887.
I’m restoring a series of Edward Lear’s Nonsense Verse books as we speak, so stay tuned.