|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Little Golden Book) by Barbara Shook Hazen, adapted from the story by Robert L. May, illustrated by Richard Scarry. Golden Press, 1958.|
Christmas confession time: I am not a big fan of 1964's Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special. When I was little, it always felt too long. As an adult, it's just so flippin' weird - and too long. It wasn't on any of my dad's Christmas junk tapes, either, so it didn't get the repeat viewings that Frosty the Snowman or 'Twas the Night Before Christmas got.
But I loved the song. John Denver recorded it on Rocky Mountain Christmas, which spun on the turntable all Christmas long. I loved the original Gene Autry version, the swinging Dean Martin version, and yes, even Burl Ives. (I actually love Burl Ives.) I liked the Max Fleischer cartoon from 1948. The gawky deer (not really reindeer) were so cute. And I loved my Little Golden Book, a reprint from the '70s that made a nice companion to the cartoon, featuring illustrations by Richard Scarry.
My childhood copy disappeared long ago, but that's okay. I love this one: it's an original red-spined copy from the '50s! (See the lead photo.) It shares a space on my LGB rack with the current edition, starring the Rankin/Bass figures.
And here is the Max Fleischer cartoon from 1948. You can tell this is from a re-release: the song didn't come out until 1949. They tacked it on to the opening for reissues.
Before the cartoon or song or Little Golden Book versions ever existed, Rudolph was a character designed for Montgomery Ward in 1939. Robert L. May wrote the story as a booklet, published by the department store. Maxton Books would go on to publish the first mass-market edition of the book. Applewood Press has just released a new facsimile edition for Rudolph's 75th birthday. I was able to page through it at my local bookstore, but I had to resist it this time. I'm waiting for my library hold to come in, but I can tell you it's quite handsome and definitely worth looking at!
|Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (75th anniversary facsimile edition)|
by Robert L. May, illustrated by Denver Gillen. Applewood Press, 2014.
First published by Montgomery Ward, 1939.
While my Richard Scarry Little Golden Book version of Rudolph is no longer in print, we did pick up a newly reissued copy of Richard Scarry's Christmas Mice, originally published as a First Little Golden Book (with a different cover) in 1965. New Little Golden Books, old Little Golden Books... If they fill my LGB rack and have popping artwork, I'll take them all.