Posted tagged ‘Will Vawter’

Classic Books: RILEY CHILD-RHYMES with HOOSIER PICTURES

January 24, 2013

Books are fascinating. When my niece gave me a copy of Riley Child-Rhymes with Hoosier Pictures written by James Whitcomb Riley, I was captivated. The book is an 1898 edition and belonged to my great aunt. The pages are yellowed and it’s falling apart, but Riley’s poems and the Hoosier Pictures by Will Vawter are all there. I was holding a treasure!

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James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was known as the Hoosier Poet because of the poems he wrote, using childhood memories and dialect of his home state of Indiana The illustrations, known as Hoosier Pictures, were created by Will Vawter (1871-1941), also of Indiana. He worked closely with Riley and illustrated many of Riley’s works.

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In Child-Rhymes, Vawter’s black and white illustrations enhance Riley’s poems. Some poems are short and others are longer and tell a story. “Little Orphant Annie” entertains children with witch-tales and warns them “the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” “The Bear Story” is a funny tale of how a youngster went out to kill a bear. It reminds me of how children love to exaggerate when telling adventures of their own. In “The Happy Little Cripple,” Riley writes about a little child who has “Curv’ture of the Spine” and whose Pa “runned away” because he was drunk. They’re not your ordinary rhymes of today, but Riley’s poems provide humor and insight into what life was like in simpler times.

This new-found treasure has been a source of entertainment and has enriched my life.


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