Canterbury Classics Provide Shelf Appeal with New Bindings for Timeless Tales

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Illustrated Classics

I grew up in books. They were all over the place. There were the slim hardbound Weekly Readers that regularly found their way into my collection. There were the dog-eared paperbacks in the classroom library. There were the well-read Readers' Digest anthologies and unabridged classics and Big Little Books and (yes) more comic books than a reasonable person could count (and I knew exactly how many there were).

But an indelible memory from my youth is the small bookshelf in my grandmother's living room, just behind and to the left of her recliner. On that shelf, topped by the little bobbing mercury bird that dipped its beak into water, were two hardcover volumes: HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain, and HEIDI by Johanna Spyri. There was a heft and gravitas to them: the texture of the pages, the solidity of the binding, the delicacy of the silk ribbon built into the spine to mark your place. Even now I can recall the scent of these pages that only true bibliophiles can understand and appreciate.

I'm brought back to that place by these new offerings from Canterbury Classics. I received for review a sampling of three of their releases: ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES, and PETER PAN. I say they were for review, but honestly, what kind of review can one give to stories such as these? They're not adaptations, so I can't judge them on that. The illustrations are original, so they're hardly something previously unseen. Nothing I can say could hallow these books any more than the authors' own sweat, blood, and tears have already done. (Yes, I can plagiarize both Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill in one breath. It's a gift.)

So I judge the books instead by their covers--and their printing, binding, and texture. And in that regard, they are utterly brilliant. They're durable, the paper is of a heavy weight, the ribbons compliment the binding in color.

And they smell great!

Look at your own book collection. If it's dominated by E.L. James, Stephen King, and James Patterson--well, good for you. You're a reader. But if you find it's lacking that certain je ne sais quoi that comes from having a good looking copy of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS or THE SECRET GARDEN or (my personal favorite) ALICE IN WONDERLAND & THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, then these are the books you are looking for.

But buyer beware! Not all books are created equal. If you look to the Amazon listing for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, for instance, you will see the issuance of the book I review. However, once you click "Read Inside," you are taken to a completely different printing; and the reviews on the page are for a version of ANNE that is decidedly not the version you would find in the Canterbury Classics version. If your copy looks like any of the ones below, then you've made the right decision.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0