New York: The Viking Press, 1947. Pène du Bois, William. First Edition. Hardcover. First printing, octavo size, 188 pp., inscribed by William Pène du Bois with an original watercolour by him on the front free endpaper. Very good + / very good. Item #CNJWEM013
A whimsical tale of adventure by ballooning, "The Twenty-One Balloons" demonstrates William Pène du Bois' (1916-1993) expertise in both writing and illustrating. Pène du Bois won the Newbery Medal for this book in 1948, and, for books he illustrated, he was the runner-up for the Caldecott Medal twice. Pène du Bois brings a charming visual interpretation to stories of imaginative, far-off lands, with elements of science mixed with the fantasy.
In addition to numerous black-and-white illustrations, this volume has an original watercolour by Pène du Bois on the front free endpaper, incredibly detailed and brilliant with colour, of four clown/acrobats perched one on top of another, balancing various items and holding balloons - with the bottom acrobat balancing on a high wire! The drawing is inscribed to Tom Prideaux and is dated March 28, 1947 (the year of publication); while not an uncommon name, Tom Prideaux could be the name of the co-author, along with Josephine Mayer, of "Never to Die, The Egyptians in Their Own Words", which was published in 1938, the same year Pène du Bois published "The Three Policemen", and it is entirely possibly the two men became and remained friends.
___DESCRIPTION: Quarter red cloth with paper boards featuring a black-and-white illustrated pattern of a wicker basket, black lettering inside a white rectangle with ruled border on the front board, black lettering and rules on the spine, top edge stained red, double-spread title page with black-and-white illustration by William Pène du Bois, black-and-white illustrations by Pène du Bois throughout; octavo size (9.5" by 6.25"), pagination: [i-viii] [1-2] 3-179 , inscribed by Pène du Bois with original watercolour on the front free endpaper. In a paper dust jacket with colour illustrations of balloons on the front and rear panels, black and white lettering on the front panel, black lettering on the spine, a description of the book on the front flap, and a list of other books from the illustrator on the rear flap; the dust jacket is unclipped with the original price of $2.50 on the front flap.
___CONDITION: Volume better than very good, with clean boards, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; some minor overall rubbing to the extremeties where the paper has worn away (including to the corners), light sunning to the head and tail of the spine, and a small spot of soiling to the fore-edge of the text block. The dust jacket is very good, unclipped, clean with bright colours, overall edge wear, some chipping to the corners and head and tail of the spine with some loss to the head of the spine, but with no loss of text.
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