Thursday, April 22, 2010


TWO YEARS AFTER ILLUSTRATING The Cat and The Devil by James Joyce, Richard Erdoes illustrated Come Over to My House (1966) by Theo Le Sieg.

Theo LeSieg, of course, was the pen name of that other great cat creator of children's literature, Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Geisel used the LeSieg nom de plume for books he wrote, but did not illustrate.

Come Over to My House is a tour around the world in which a young boy is shown all the different kinds of houses that people live in in other countries.

The book is told in rhyme, but it lacks the brilliant playfulness of The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham settling for simpler more obvious constructions.

Come Over to My House appeared two years after the 1964 World's Fair where Walt Disney and Mary Blair's It's A Small World debuted, and in the same year that the ride became a permanent fixture at Disneyland. Multiculturalism taught through idealized smiling faced children was a common technique adopted at that time, and can still be seen in picture books today.

Erdoes, who later went on to be an outspoken champion of Native American rights and who penned or compiled dozens of books on the subject, had his own series of books on a similar theme at the time, Around the World.

Erdoes was someone who knew about internationalism firsthand; from the author's bio for his book The Green Tree House (1965): "Richard Erdoes grew up in Vienna, Austria. He studied at Art Academies in Berlin, Vienna and Paris. He wrote and illustrated short stories and children's books until the Nazis arrived in Austria. Then he lived for two years in Paris and London....He is now a citizen of the United states..." Erdoes died at home in Santa Fe, NM in 2008.

To see more art by Richard Erdoes, visit my Flickr sets where I have posted (and will continue to post) full scans of several of his out-of-print children's books. Many of Erdoes's books are still in print, and I encourage you to seek them out, and to appeal to publishers to bring more of his books into print.

Until I am forced to take it down or lose my nerve, I have posted a full scan of Come Over to My House here. Needless to say, most of Dr. Seuss's books are still in print including many written as Theo LeSieg. To dig into this hidden canon, I recommend my personal favorite I Wish That I Had Duck Feet.

Richard Erdoes was a master of endpapers, so to finish, the endpapers to Come Over to My House.

1 comment:

  1. I have this book and I love it. As a child I always felt sorry for the Japanese children sleeping on the floor. I worried they would be cold.