London; New York: George G. Harrap & Co.; Thomas Y. Crowell Co., circa 1915.
Hardcover. These two volumes comprise Lilian Gask's early 1900s retelling of "earth's story-book," through the adventures of Phil, a young orphan boy, who over the course of these two books discovers a kinship and classroom in nature as he learns "the great fairy tales of science which Nature has written for us." In Nature's School begins with Phil escaping from the cruelties of his caretakers and classmates at his orphanage by running into the woods, where, while the boy cries for his mother, Mother Nature herself appears to console him and invite him to enroll in her school. For a year, all of creation will be Phil's classmates, and the boy is entrusted with special powers--the ability to breathe under water and change size. And so Phil learns about nature and her many children through his time in forest, arctic, desert, and jungle, living and learning alongside a variety of creatures, including a family of beavers, a tribe of seals, a caravan of camels, a royal court of gorillas, and many more, all illustrated in frontispiece and fifteen lovely monochrome plates by long-time illustrator of Lilian Gask, Dorothy Hardy. Phil's education continues in the sequel, In the 'Once Upon a Time,' wherein he encounters a beetle-hunting professor in the woods who not only befriends young Phil, but keeps him company on his lonely schoolbreaks by teaching him the story of the development of life on our planet, declaring, "The history of our Earth is a fairy tale in itself..." In addition to storytelling in the woods, the professor accompanies Phil to London to explore the city's esteemed museums, narrating further stories of dinosaurs and ammonites, primitive tools, and early religious beliefs. Despite lacking the fantastical elements of its predecessor, In the 'Once Upon a Time' is full of language and imagery that cast its anthropology, natural history, and paleontology lessons in an indisputable fairy light--for instance, the fossil record is "Nature's wonder-box," full of "hidden treasures"--that makes this informative and educational book an enchanting, even "ripping" adventure, as Phil would say, illustrated throughout in frontispiece and fourteen monochrome plates by Patten Wilson. This charming set is the work of Lilian Gask (1865-1942), writer of fairy tales, folklore, and books about animals and nature for children. Together these two "fairy tales of science" will have you agreeing with Phil and his professor, that indeed the history of Earth is "a fairy tale that has no ending, and that grows more entrancing as we read on..."
8 1/8" X 6". vii, 9-320pp; 5-283pp. Both volumes bound uniformly in green cloth over boards, with monochrome pictorial plates to upper boards, decoratively framed and lettered in light green to upper boards, with spines lettered in gilt. Moderate wear to bindings, with corners bumped and turned in, light soiling and edgewear to pictorial labels, gilt lettering faded to In the 'Once Upon a Time," scattered rubbing, dust soiling, and small tears to head and tail of spines and corners. Front free endpaper missing from In Nature's School. Both bindings remain quite firm and sound. Bookplate to front pastedown and previous owner's name to front free endpaper of In the 'Once Upon a Time,' with stamp of "Stark County Home" to endpapers. Mild foxing to pages of both volumes. Small tear to upper margin of pages 314-318 of In Nature's School, and to plate facing page 112 in In the 'Once Upon a Time.' Pages are otherwise unmarked. In Nature's School is illustrated in pictorial label, frontispiece, and fifteen monochrome plates by Dorothy Hardy. In the 'Once Upon a Time' is illustrated in frontispiece and fourteen monochrome plates by Patten Wilson. Both volumes feature enchanting pictorial title pages. Good +. Item #5815