Thursday, March 23, 2017


Just two years after the end of World War II the above children's book was published.

The American people were ready to return to normal American life. And one of the hallmarks of being normal over here is the advertising and the packaging that dominate our consumer-driven culture.

Here's a scan of AROUND THE CLOCK WITH ROCKY AND RUTHIE, which is part children's book, and part activity book. The staple-bound publication asks kids to actively cut up and paste in logos and advertising from the products they consume every day. This "personalizes" the book for them, and increases their identification with what they buy.

Plot? There's no plot per se. We follow the two title kids, Rocky and Ruthie, through a typical day. The ticking clock on the page pushes us on. It's almost like a kiddie lit version of "High Noon," except no gunplay, no Fred Zinnemann, no Cooper, no Grace Kelly. As the kids in the book eat, go to school, etc., the reader is asked to cut out labels and paste them on the page.

The uncredited commercial artist uses a lithographic pencil to execute the illustrations. The book's interior is all two-tone. The whole thing was printed on inexpensive newsprint.  Since there's no price, it makes me think this may have been a giveaway.

On the cover, there's the number "1908,"just below that is the notation

The Saafield Pub Co.
Akron, Ohio
Made in U.S.A.

and the title page says it's copyright 1947 by S. Harold Labow.

Saalfield published a lot of books during the 20th century. It was one of the largest publishers of children's books in the world, with books like Raggedy Ann, Peter Rabbit and The Little Red Hen in its repertoire.

-- This is an edited version of a 2013 blog entry.

1 comment:

Ginny said...


Thank you for this very interesting post. I actually have an original that is in fairly frail condition.

I'm writing to report that there is a price tag on the book that is partially in-tact.

The first letters on it are Perry"s, but I cannot find any store baby that name, so it could end in some other way.

I see one of these books listed in Abe's for $25.

Mine is not used accept for a pencil mark on one of the last pages.

What a great testimony to our consumerism and the control that the advertising world was beginning to have on our culture.

Someone actually paid for this!

I don't know if there is a market for these types of publications. I am selling off my mom's antique shop inventory, and much Americana that she accumulatied during the creation of her shop.

Kindest Regards,