L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
The Army Alphabet
Illustrations by Harry Kennedy
Chicago, New York: George M. Hill Company, 1900
Call number: Rare Books o.s. PS3503.A923 A74 1900
Alphabet books have amused and instructed children for centuries. They represent one of the earliest uses
of pictures in instructional books for students, starting in the sixteenth century with the hornbooks or wooden
paddles with inscribed alphabets, numerals, and prayers. Out of this tradition came the battledore, a folded piece
of cardboard with an illustrated alphabet.
By the time L. Frank Baum published this alphabet book, printing technology had developed to the point
at which children expected their books to be in bold and irresistible color.
Baum's career as a children's author began when his family encouraged him to compile the nursery rhymes
he told his sons. His first book, Mother Goose in Prose, sold well, and he followed with Father Goose: His Book, which
became the best-selling children's title of 1899. In 1900 he had two books published. The Army Alphabet, an oversized
picture book, taught the alphabet with illustrations from the Spanish-American War era. The second book,
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, quickly achieved the status of an American classic.
• See other items from the collections