The Littlest Angel (1962 Edition)


My tree topper arrived yesterday!  My kitschy white tree called for a cute and kitschy tree topper, and I found a perfect, made-in-Japan mid-century angel on Etsy.  And she's dressed in green, my favorite color!  I moved my mom's handmade ornament from the early '80s up the tree, closer to the top,and across the room, singing on top of the piano, are the vintage angel figures I bought at an estate sale last year.

All these cute vintage angels made me think of a book I found at my grandmother's last year.  It was another one of her estate sale purchases.

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, illustrated by Sergio Leone.  Grosset & Dunlap, 1962.  (Text originally published by Children's Press, 1946.)

The Littlest Angel was first written as a radio script, then adapted by the author, Charles Tazewell, into a children's book in 1946.  The illustrations were by Katherine Evans.  (You can see her illustrations on this YouTube video.)  The Evans illustrations were used for later editions, through the 1950s on into the 1970s. In 1962, Grosset & Dunlap printed this edition, featuring new illustrations by Sergio Leone. I think the illustrations seem to fit with my angel decor this year.


Are you familiar with the story?  The full text is reprinted on this Houston Chronicle blog article here.  It's about an unhappy little angel, and how an Understanding Angel helps him by retrieving a box of favorite things he left behind on Earth.  When Jesus is about to be born, the Littlest Angel gives his box of treasures to God, and God is pleased and makes the box the Star of Bethlehem.










The Littlest Angel was not a story I grew up with, although I have a vague memory of someone reading it to us in elementary school.  I think it was a substitute teacher, actually.  I grew up with another of Tazewell's stories, The Small One, although it was in the form of a Walt Disney cartoon, and not a perfectly faithful adaptation, either, from what I understand.  The Littlest Angel is on the flowery and sentimental side, not particularly my style, but this copy is in great shape and the illustrations are cool.

Anyhoo, if you're interested, here is a YouTube video of the
Loretta Young recording of the story:

And here is the 1969 made-for-tv Hallmark Hall of Fame musical.
I haven't watched it yet, but check out the cast.  

I also noticed a more recent animated version on Netflix streaming recently.  No, I'm sorry, I haven't watched it, either.  

There are more recent editions of The Littlest Angel out there.  The one illustrated by Paul Micich is familiar to me from my bookselling days.  There is also one illustrated by Guy Porfirio.

As for the one read to me in school?  Judging from the year it came out (1984), what do you want to bet it was the special Avon Products edition, illustrated by Susanna Leigh?


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Comments

  1. I think that angel is the perfect addition to your tree! Very pretty and so lovingly kitschy :) I have never heard of the story or movie. I did watch The Small One because it came with another Disney movie I have. So many interesting new information on our blog! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's one of those stories that's no longer in vogue, but was extremely popular for a while. I knew there were TV versions and everything, but I also remember not paying attention to it much when the sub read it in school. I can picture her now. Finding this one at Grandma's was funny, because it looked so different. I didn't know there were so many different illustrators.

      There was a little letter inside the book, by the way, addressed to a girl in Wichita from a girl in Colorado, on fold-over '70s-style green stationary. It was dated Dec. 15, 1972. The girl to whom it was addressed owned the book, as her name is printed inside.

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  2. That is SUCH a cute tree topper angel. And "The Littlest Angel" is such a sweet story. These illustrations bring back happy memories from when I was a little girl. My favorite is where her is falling out of the sky, gripping tightly to his halo. :)

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    1. My husband is sure his mother used to have a similar tree topper. He was excited for me to buy it. And yes, the tumbling angel trying to fly is my favorite, too!

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  3. I LOVE that angel that you bought!! Sigh... so much stuff on Etsy that I drool over...

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    1. Oh, goodness, yes! I was looking for a tree topper, and I told myself I wouldn't get anything else. But it was so hard! I did limit myself, but there were so many goodies!

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  4. WOW -- i swear I read this, or saw this, or had this a million yrs ago. SO adorable! I had forgotten all about this. Or maybe I dreamed it :) -- looks really familiar tho! LOVE your angel decor!

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    1. It used to be really popular. It's too old-fashioned now. It's uncomfortably religious for some, and "wrong" for some religious folk. (Read the reviews of the animated version on Netflix. They get pretty heated. It's funny.) Throw in the rather flowery writing...

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you! I thought so, too. Mr. B and I knew she was the one as soon as I found her listing. And she's in excellent condition. Not a yarn on her head out of place. ;)

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