McCloskey’s First Book – George Washington Bicentennial, 1732-1932

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McCloskey, Robert. George Washington Bicentennial, 1732-1932. Hamilton, Ohio: American History Club of Hamilton High School, 1932.

First Edition. Binding: Softcover (Saddle-stapled). Book Condition: Fine Condition. Item Type: Pamphlet.

Pagination: [32] p. Size: 5"-6" - Vigesimo-quarto (24mo).

Although Lentil is Robert McCloskey’s first published book as a professional author/illustrator, his actual first publication was this high school American History Club pamphlet celebrating the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. Each of two-page spread provides a calendar for a month with text about Washington and a supporting illustration that McCloskey created using woodcuts.

In his book Robert McCloskey (1990), Gary D, Schmidt’s general assessment of this booklet is that it “is clearly the work of an amateur, whose drawings lack artistic vision and instead are literal rather than interpretive representations of the world” (pp. 19-20). Nonetheless, Schmidt did see some inkling of McCloskey’s sense of how to use lines and color in the woodcuts. He writes that McCloskey’s “texturing of these illustrations looks forward to illustrations in some of his Maine picture books” and his “restraint in the use of color here also foreshadows the first two Maine books” (p. 20).

But the most significant indication of McCloskey’s corpus of work to come was in the small vignettes of the legend of the cherry tree he inserts in the bottom corner of each spread, illustrations that, Schmidt writes, “subverts the formality of both the prose and the illustrations” (p. 20).

[H]ere the characters are not rigid; they move in dramatically exaggerated postures. The backward leaning of the young Washington rushing off to test his new hatchet would later be used in Journey Cake, Ho! The exuberant motion of the actual chopping would be refined and used for more comic effect in Homer Price and Centerburg Tales. The silhouetted background would appear in Blueberries for Sal. These incidental drawings, rather than the pamphlet’s principal illustrations, mark the routes that McCloskey would choose in his later picture books. (p. 21)

Bound in dark blue linen paper wrapper with the title and cameo of Washington on the front cover and his family arms on the rear cover.

The text consists of facing text and illustrated pages with a map of the Rappahannock Valley on a two-page spread in the middle. The pages are bright and unmarked. All edges clean, neat and free of foxing. 

Shipped Weight: 0 lbs 2 oz.

Inventory No: 1265.