Brain Pickings

Maurice Sendak’s Rare Velveteen Rabbit Illustrations circa 1960


Two icons converge in obscure vintage children’s volume.

It’s no secret I have a wicked obsession with vintage children’s book illustration, especially from obscure editions by famous authors or artists. For instance, I recently discovered some fantastic little-known artwork by Andy Warhol for two volumes of the Best in Children’s Books series from 1958-1959. But the series, it turns out, is a treasure trove of hidden gems. The the 1960 volume Best in Children’s Books #35 features a version of The Velveteen Rabbit illustrated by young Maurice Sendak, predating Where The Wild Things Are by three years and done right around the time when legendary mid-century children’s book patron saint Ursula Nordstrom was busy nurturing Sendak’s budding genius.

The charming duotone illustrations bring Sendak’s signature style of simple whimsy to one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time — a priceless combination.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.”

Complement Best in Children’s Books #35, which is hard to find but is well worth the hunt, with Sendak’s little-known posters celebrating the joy of reading and his rarest art of all.

Images via Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves

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