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John R Neill’s Children’s Books

John R Neill’s Children’s Fantasy Books

Some children's books illustrated by John R Neill
Some children’s books illustrated by John R Neill

Between 1908 and about 1930, Oz book publisher Reilly & Britton (later, Relly & Lee) published a series of children’s fantasy tales illustrated by the great John R Neill. (John R Neill replaced W W Denslow as illustrator of the L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books in 1904.) The publishers got a lot of mileage out of Neill’s art for these little books!

The first “Children’s Stories that Never Grow Old” series of 24 titles was published in paper covered boards in four different cover designs (two of them shown at the top of the photo). These fragile little books quickly gave way to the “Children’s Red Books”, which included two stories in one book, in both cloth and paper-covered bindings. Andersen’s Fairy Tales, featuring The Ugly Duckling and Rip van Winkle, is shown on the far right. Later versions of the “Children’s Red Books” were even issued in blue cloth before they renamed the series the “Children’s Own Books” in the mid 1920’s! If you’re lucky, these can sometimes be found with the original dust jacket, like Aladdin shown in the middle. The publisher also used Neill’s illustrations in a compendium book called “Children’s Stories that Never Grow Old” in 1908, as well as in the 1910 “Turnover Books“, which featured double cover art, with a different story on each side of the book.

There were other, related titles published as well. For further info on this crazy, collectible series, see Greg Hunter’s article in the Spring 2013 Baum Bugle. You can find more from Wonderful Books of Oz here.