Margery Williams Bianco, Arthur Rackham
(George H. Doran Co., Jan. 1, 1925)
After becoming a renowned author, Bianco wrote numerous other children's books, with her son becoming the namesake of one of them, 1925's Poor Cecco: The Wonderful Story of a Wonderful Wooden Dog Who Was the Jolliest Toy in the House Until He Went Out to Explore the World—a distinguished book that belies its somewhat priggish subtitle and is arguably better entitled than The Velveteen Rabbit to status as a classic. This lively adventure story, virtually a novel for children, is a brilliant exception to the sentimentality of Bianco's more famous book. Each of the many characters who populate the nursery toy cupboard is a distinct and amusing personality. Their interactions with each other and with the human, animal, and toy members of the world beyond it, whom they encounter on their quest for adventure/search for a lost friend, are delineated with understated humor. The relationship between the wooden dog Cecco, a natural leader, and Jensina, a highly independent and spirited wooden doll, is both subtle and funny. Superb illustrations by Arthur Rackham are a perfect complement to the narrative. While the publisher probably found it more practical to promote the shorter Velveteen Rabbit, Cecco's celebrated illustrator may have assured its survival in the catalogues of rare book dealers despite its undeserved literary obscurity.