There is a clear appeal for children’s books in miniature: what better way to encourage a child to read than to provide them with a book precisely sized for their small hands? But not all children’s literature is meant for children, and adults as well as children can enjoy the themes, characters, and illustrations primarily intended for juvenile audiences. The Toth Collection features a wide range of children’s literature, from more contemporary favourites like Beatrix Potter to classics like Aesop’s Fables. Here we have selected a range of books intended for (or even contributed to by) children that can be enjoyed at any age.
A mi Petőfink
In 1973, the Petőfi Literary Museum in Budapest held a children’s drawing competition to illustrate the poems of Sándor Petőfi (1823-1849), Hungary’s national poet and the museum’s namesake. The museum then organized an exhibition from the drawings received, and in 1975 published an exhibit catalogue (27 x 20 cm). This volume is a miniaturized version of the exhibit catalogue, sized for the hands of the artists themselves.
Sándor Petöfi, A mi Petőfink (Budapest: Móra Könyvkiadó, 1976).
Toth Collection 1.A.16
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is perhaps one of the best-known English children’s books of the early twentieth century, and is one of the best-selling books in history. Beatrix Potter went on to write twenty-three tales in all, including the four books featured in this miniature boxed set: The Tale of Peter Rabbit (first published in 1902), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (1905), and The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909). The Toth Collection includes all twenty-three tales published in a series of six miniature sets. The sets of Beatrix Potter books are emblematic of a resurgence of a trend that originated around the turn of the nineteenth century, when booksellers began to produce complete libraries for children housed in bookcases or boxes.
Beatrix Potter, The Original Peter Rabbit Miniature Collection 1 (Viking Children’s Books, 1986).
Toth Collection 2.C.4
See also Toth Collection 2.C.1-3 and 7-8
The Magic of Carousels
Some of the most creative miniature books are artists’ books, which demonstrate the challenge of differentiating between art and book. These books are often handmade in very small numbers, with their rarity and craftsmanship both contributing to their overall impact and value. The Toth Collection features a wide range of artists’ books, including this whimsical 1989 imprint from Windcrest Press that is an edition of only fifty copies. The red cloth-coloured boards feature an enamel charm of a carousel horse mounted on the cover, and perhaps even more interesting is the interior 25-cent United States postage stamp that depicts a carousel goat.
Scott Ringwelski, The Magic of Carousels (San Antonio, TX: Windcrest Press, 1989).
Toth Collection 1.D.3
Sure to delight children and adults alike, this miniature volume includes two dozen tongue twisters modeled after “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” with one for nearly every letter of the alphabet. Accompanying each tongue twister is an illuminated initial in various styles – harkening back to medieval manuscript culture. This volume is from Tabula Rasa Press in Seattle, Washington, the imprint of John Lathourakis who sets the type for each book by hand. This book was issued in a printing of 500 copies.
Peter Piper (Seattle: Tabula Rasa Press, 1990).
Toth Collection 1.C.20
ABC of Insects
Nearly too small to open at only 25 mm, this tiny, leather-bound volume is the second edition of A.R. Mason’s ABC of Insects. Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to an insect with a black-and-white illustration on the facing page: A is for ant, B is for bumble bee, C is for caterpillar, etc. Alphabet books is one of the most common genres addressed in miniature books intended for children.
A.R. Mason, ABC of Insects (Pixie Press, 1991)
Toth Collection 10.A.3