Despite the art’s distinctly retro look and coloring, the five Golden Books in this gathering—four complete, one excerpted—only rarely come off as period pieces.
Lap-sitters and lap-providers alike will enjoy following a delighted-looking preschooler who is credibly ambiguous of gender, though to judge from the visible toys and furniture, probably originally intended to be a girl. She takes them on a tour of Baby’s House (1950, written by Gelolo McHugh) before moving on to Ruth Krauss’s hymn to empowerment I Can Fly (1950), the concept-driven Up and Down Book (1964), the contemporary nursery rhymes of Miriam Clark Potter in The Golden Book of Little Verses (1953) and the 21 standard folk songs and singing games selected from The New Golden Song Book (1955). All but the last two titles are published here for the first time in a large format. Though Blair’s modernist illustrations display stylistic changes over the years, they make the transition in size without losing their bright colors and sharply defined figures. Furthermore, her fondness for floating children, familiar pets or farm animals and isolated details in open-bordered compositions adds timeless, energetic visual rhythms, even to bedtime scenes.
For Boomers, a nostalgic trip back to their diaper-clad days, and if not exactly multicultural (despite some song lyrics in German and French), still enjoyable for today's young children. (introduction) (Picture book collection. 3-5, adult)