Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, December 12, 2020


 A little oddity from the past, with its die-cut bullet hole going through each page.  

Young Tom Potts, an irresponsible young lad, was playing with a gun when it unexpectedly fired, sending a bullet through a French clock and through the wall behind it.  This scenario brings up a lot of concerns for modern readers, making them wonder what the mortality rate for knuckleheaded kids was in 1908.

The book then follows the path of the bullet on its destructive journey.  Surprisingly, nobody was wounded by the bullet, although it did hit a wild-cat which had treed a man.  (Cats of all stripes were fair game back then, I believe.)

Accompanied with a few brief verses to describe every illustration, the bullet makes its way through a boiler, the rope on a swing, the gas tank of a passing automobile, a nearly finished portrait, Granny 
Fink's aquarium, a cage of mice in a pet store, the bowl of old Hagenschmit's pipe, a pear in a tree, Mr. Foozleman's high silk hat, a bag of grain, a fishing pole, the afore-mentioned wild-cat, a watermelon (upsetting a stereotypical black family -- these were less tolerant times, my friend), some balloons, the drum of a German band, a stove-pipe, a wall through which a mouse could escape a cat, a door-bell, a bagpipe, an apiary, the string to a kite, and the chain restraining snip the dog, before hitting a cake by a newlywed,  the toughness of which flattened the bullet and ended its journey.

Peter Newell (1862-1924) was one of the most popular illustrators and cartoonists of his day.  his work was regularly published in Harper's Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Scribner's, Judge, and The Saturday Evening Post.  He often illustrated books by such authors as Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, and Stephen Crane/ He created the comic strip The Naps of Polly Sweetheart in 1905.  He wrote and illustrated some very popular -- and unusual children's books, such as Topsys and  Turveys (1893, in which the illustrations and text could also be read upside-down), The Slant Book (1910, with the entire book being printed as a rhomboid to help illustrate a baby carriage rolling downhill), and The Rocket Book (1912, another die-cut book, following the path of a toy rocket through various floors of an apartment building),

 Enjoy this little glimpse into the past.

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