Sunday, January 16, 2011

Erik Blegvad and Oddity Land

For those of you who have been following my posts, you already know that Erik Blegvad is one of my favorite illustrators. I've featured his work in two previous posts and, as I think I've already mentioned, I'm slowly building a collection of some of the books that he has illustrated. Since most of them are out of print, I'm constantly on the look-out for them at library discard sales and in used book stores. I've also bought a few of them online. The book that I'm featuring in this particular post is one that I acquired on eBay. It's a book titled "Oddity Land," by Edward Anthony which was published in 1957. It's a funny little book, aptly titled, that is made up of limericks devoted to various animals that the author says he knows.  For example, this little verse that accompanies a wonderful pen and ink drawing of some dogs enjoying a ride on a merry-go-round:

"I know a hound
Who often is found
At the carnival riding the merry-go-round."

Or this one about a spaniel named Daniel
The book's dust jacket contains this quote by Louis Untermeyer regarding the contents of "Oddity Land":

"Oddity Land" is as lively and laughable a collection of wild whimsicalities as I have seen in many years. It has been a long time since so many delightfully queer creatures have been assembled in a single volume."

The book certainly does contain a collection of queer (in the sense of unusual) creatures and Blegvad has done a wonderful job of matching his illustrations to the whimsicalities of the limericks. There are so many small gems in this book. Here are a few more examples:
The illustration below, of some ice-skating mice is one of my favorites. It's easy to see which of the seven mice is the one who doesn't like skating. He's the one on the far right, standing with a cane on the shore of the frozen lake. 

Mr. Blegvad manages to give personality to each of the creatures in his illustrations. I love the blissful grin on the face of this possum who is enjoying eating some orange blossoms . . .

. . . and the feeling of comfortable coziness that he conveys in this image of a dignified looking rabbit (which reminds me a bit of some of the rabbits by Garth Williams, another favorite illustrator of mine).

I'll finish with another of my favorites, an illustration depicting a diverse flock of birds gathered together around three small trees. The image is placed on the page opposite this text:

"There are birds, of course, in Oddity Land
But, as you have guessed, they are differently planned,
A fact that you'll be arriving at
When you read these little announcements that:

I know a bobwhite
Who's so very polite
He won't sing a note till he asks if he might

I know a canary
Who works in a dairy.
She likes it because it is sunny and airy.

I know a flamingo
Who loves to play bingo.

I know a crow
Who's learning to sew.

I know a squab
Who likes corn on the cob."

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