When I, in the 1990’s first encountered the Pere Castor stories (primarily from the 1930s), it was the illustrative and lithographic strengths which enchanted me. Then, on getting down to the French texts, I was delighted anew by the deft and delicate portrayal of wild animals embodying loving gratitude, brave sacrifice and endurance.
In recent years I’ve become aware (thanks to my good friend and fascinating connoisseur of the arts, Sam Juliano) of the many beautiful children’s illustrated books in the running for the prestigious Caldecott Medal, presented in January each year. To my great surprise I find that many of the writers and illustrators often approach their wide-ranging subjects with a passionate care for the possibilities of grace and the rich fleetingness of life.
There are of course differences of nuance between the widespread eras; but it is to me a matter of good cheer that those long ago French instances of panache and daring have been maintained in our times of conspicuous attention to technology and conspicuous carelessness about serious reflection
The following is our first blog from 2012 on the Pere Castor series :
When we hear the expression, “French Illustrated Books,” our thoughts immediately turn to dazzling, audacious imagery in tandem with chic, often risque literature. But there is a remarkable and much-beloved series of that genre which devotes graphic printing prowess to creating awe and joy for children. The “Albums of Pere Castor,” produced between the 1930s and 1950s, by the esteemed Paris publisher, Flammarion, introduce children to animals and places they might never have seen in the flesh–but in such a way as to hopefully launch the young city-bound readers into a lifetime of fascination and care for wild things. For instance, the little saga, Scaf the Seal, from 1936, visually captures the jaunty and perilous adventures of the plucky little guy and his friends with such engaging incident and lithographic resonance that we could easily be compelled to come back to the story many times and ruminate over the detailed and delicious depictions.
The books shown here measure approximately 8 1/4″ x 9″; about 35 pp. each page illustrated in color and/or black and white; covers in good condition, interior pages excellent condition.
Albums du Pere Castor (available from www.idesirevintageposters.com)
More Pere Castor blogs may be seen here: