Anybody at Home?

H A Rey Anybody at Home?

Another cheapie book find, this – change out of three pounds. I really like old spiral-bound books. No idea why. I may have been a spiral binder in another life. The innate practicalness of the very idea of spiral binding is what I like. No spine cracking here.

I’m not sure I twigged this little book was by the author and illustrator of the more famous Curious George books when I bought it. I just, as I say, liked the binding. And the illustrations. Inside it has a pen written inscription ‘Love to Barbara from Daddy and Mummy, Easter 1952.’ A date and a bit of context, all in the one inscription.

OK, I also liked this book because the pages fold out. Am a complete sucker for old interactive books of any description – pop up, cut out, tipped in, folded. If it moves, I’ll want it. That helpless early engagement with lo-fi interactivity may very well have lead me through to producing more hi-fi moving digital things in older real life. Dunno.

Anyway, printed on the cover is: Folding Books Limited. London. Intriguing. H A Rey and his wife Margaret seem to have written rather a lot of these folding books. Pretzel, about a daschund. Spotty, a rabbit. How do you get there? about directions (funnily enough). Feed the Animals, about a zoo. The imprint looks to have been closely aligned with Chatto and Windus, as the same titles cross over rather a lot. ­

Writing of interactives, there is a nice timeline (beautifully illustrated, of course) about the Reys and how they got from Germany to America. It’s on the Jewish Museum, New York website. Included is a snippet from an interview in the 1960s where the couple describe how they met. Margaret sounds like Lauren Bacall. And they both sound like thoroughly good eggs.

There is something incredibly modern about Rey’s illustrations. I especially like his people, who are a bit Fougasse-y in appearance. This spread depicting an airport has plenty to please: dogs, hats, suitcases, red cars, a ladder..

H A Rey Anybody at Home page


Crispin Howell-Jones

another great discovery – well spotted! And a bargain too what more could you want


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