Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Junior Instructor in Two Volumes: What's inside this nutty book?

I am so drawn to this weird old book, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what the hell they were thinking. Is it for teachers? Parents? Preschoolers? Big kids? How in heaven's name were you supposed to use it? As an curriculum guidebook of sorts or were the kids just supposed to dig in by themselves and browse? So so weird. More than anything it reminds me of some crazy teacher's three-ring binder of Everything I Ever Thought Might Be Fun to Teach. Anyway, here are some photos of the more notable color illustrations in the books, although the majority of the pages are black-and-white:

Table of Contents, Volume One, page one

Table of Contents, Volume One, page two

The Junior Instructor in Two Books, from the Tangley Oaks Educational Center, Facts and Fun: A Treasure House of Adventure for Boys and Girls

Introduction, copyright info ranging from 1919 to 1959

Table of Contents, Volume Two



Illustrator Durenceau, I think you are fabulous. I think the tortoise is not his, but the owl, marmalade cat, basset hound (?) dog, turkey and goat are quite striking.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Vintage fire-safety wisdom from Sparky the Firedog.

"Friendly Giants from Make Believe Land"

Futurism circa "someday we may visit the moon."


After the archaic photos of taxidermied bird specimens, there's a section of more subdued birding info with these black-and-white infographics.

At the risk of being branded a curmudgeon, let me take this occasion to tell you how much I absolutely despise that girl Goldilocks. She is the worst.

Illustrator Marce Mayhew, where have you been all my life? Fabulous midcentury design, sir!

Love the colors (slide film?) on these photographs of Native Americans.

Children studying at a Seminole school in Florida.

Songs from Many Lands goes on for pages and pages--one imagines a chipper kindergarten teacher using an upright piano in the classroom to entertain her little from the tunes in these pages.

Yes, what this book needs is definitely the Mona Lisa.

More art reprints.

And still more. Also, MURICA.


  1. Durenceau was almost certainly André Maurice Durenceau, an illustrator and muralist in the 1930s, whose output ranged from majestic to salacious to gloriously Deco-stylized to outright kitsch to... these lovely animal portraits. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge about Durenceau!

  3. Hello, I was cleaning out my childhood home last week and found our copies of these books. We grew up with them and loved them, they were a part of the encyclopedia set my parents bought (1959) and also the "My Book House" set. My brothers and I are now in dispute over who is going to keep our set, it's rather beat up after being so well loved by 5 children. I found your blog because I am looking for another set to purchase in case I have to give them over to the brother that still has younger children.

  4. I grew up with these, along with My Book House books. As inappropriate as they seem now, they were influential in making me a reader.