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The New Yorker: Wanda Gág's Delectable Books

By Alice Gregory
The New Yorker

Gag_Funny coverLast month, a couple I’m friends with had their first child. She is small and red and cute. This fragrant, strange, round-eyed creature has sent me searching for the books I loved as a kid, even the half-remembered ones, so that I can buy them for her when she comes of age. I’ve done a lot of inelegant Googling in the past few weeks: “elephant roller skates baby brother” turned out to be a weirdly effective search. “Candied fruit wedding cake immigrants children’s book” was not.

The book that my younger sister and I read the most, though, isn’t one I’ll ever forget. Out of print, with only one library copy in circulation where I grew up, Wanda Gág’s “The Funny Thing” had, for my sister and me, an air of exotic pleasure. We’d check it out, renew it as many times as the library allowed, and then wait a month before requesting it again. My father finally took “The Funny Thing” to Kinko’s and had a spiral-bound version printed especially for us.

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