I was browsing around Ebay the other day during a brief idle moment when much to my surprise, I happened upon something rather special--two vintage children's books that were both about wallpaper! As you might expect, I purchased them without delay. The very idea of children's books about vintage wallpaper seemed very precious to me.
The two books are Wallpaper For Eugene's Room by Florence Kramon and illustrated by Charles Bracke (1967) and The Magic Wallpaper by Frank Francis (1970).
Wallpaper for Eugene's Room is about a little boy whose mother picks out some wallpaper for his room. After the paper is hung, Eugene is surprised by a noisy argument that breaks out among the zoo animals inhabiting his wallpaper. The night is filled with magical shouts and animal bickering. By morning though, all the animals are friends, Eugene's bedroom is a peaceful and fun place to be, and Eugene has a magical story to tell about his new wallpaper.
My favorite portions of the book are actually at the beginning when Eugene's mom visits the wallpaper store and "Paper Hanger Dan" comes to put up the paper in Eugene's bedroom. Here are just a few excerpts:
I absolutely love the page above! The illustration reminds me of our trip to the old wallpaper and glass shop in Minnesota and visiting with the owner, Art. Art's shop looked much the same as this illustration--long counters at the front, cans of paint and brushes on display, old wallpaper books available to view... I imagine that a few years ago, someone just like Eugene's mom might have popped into the store looking for something for her own son's room too.
I also adore this page because it's such a cute (and accurate!) representation of how to hang wallpaper. We mimicked this same set-up and process when we hung a vintage wallpaper stripe in my living room.
The Magic Wallpaper is about another boy, John, who gets new wallpaper for his room. Just like Eugene, John wakes up in the middle of the night to find out that his new wallpaper is actually full of surprises. John follows a magic path that appears on the wallpaper inviting him into the drawings, and he gets to meet all sorts of wonderful jungle animals.
The book begins with a great illustration of John's dad bringing home a bundle of wallpaper rolls.
The premise of both books is that children's wallpaper is a magical thing. I think I'd have to agree. :)
And if I were to look for some more wallpaper for Eugene's room or perhaps another magical paper for John, I think would choose one of these patterns (all of which were printed in the 60's and 70's too!).