the tall book of nursery tales

February 23, 2016

There's a book out is my most longed for item in the vintage book world. I've mentioned it several times before - it's called 'The Tall Book of Make Believe' and it's illustrated by my great love, Garth Williams. I've tried and tried to get my hands on it, but it's pretty darn expensive, and once I tried to bid on it on Ebay and got so flustered during the process that I forgot my password when I was trying to log in and I lost out on the final bidding process. Some day I'll get it.

But I wish, OH I WISH, you could have heard the gasp (which my family members heard from upstairs and other rooms in the house) when a friend sent me this book that you see here - 'The Tall Book of Nursery Tales' - she knows full well about my obsession with the other book (she actually owns it, the lucky girl) and she saw this guy here with the nursery tales and thought of me, bought it for me, and sent it to me. I was pretty much in tears at her kindness and thoughtfulness and generosity.

And it's a fabulously beautiful book in its own right. Take a peek.

What's fun about the Tall Book series (oh yes, there's a few, and I didn't realize that there's a Christmas version and I think I shan't rest until that one is in my hands as well!) is that they are indeed TALL. Just over a foot (12 inches) long.

The illustrations in the nursery tales book are by Feodor Rojankovsky, who has illustrated some glorious classics like this one. The pictures have a rustic, vibrant and richly colored, Old European folk art flair that I find completely enchanting.

Check out the cute way the table of contents is laid out, up above.

The other neat thing about the books is that the art spans the length of the book - if you scroll down a few photos, you can see how some of the art covers the entire vertical length of the story book, which is really really cool and gorgeous. You know how with so many books, especially in certain fairy tale books that aren't specifically created as picture books I find, sometimes you're wishing for more pictures? There's NO skimping with the amount of art created for these books.

The twenty-four (!!) stories in this are classic nursery tale/fairy tale/fable fare, with some fun ones that I hadn't heard of before, like 'The Straw the Coal, and the Bean'. There's a ton packed in here, such as favorites like 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'The Pot that Would Not Stop Boiling', 'The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg' and 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff' - in addition to others like 'The Three Wishes', 'The Foolish Milkmaid', 'The Little Red Hen and the Fox' and 'The Little Old Woman and Her Pig' - and a TON more. LOTS of silly animal stories. Each story is anywhere from two to six pages long, making it perfect for the younger preschool and kinder aged crowd.

These treasures are all out of print, and you have to hunt to find them used, and you have to hunt often to find a decent price, but hunt and find you should. These books are TREASURES. I hugged this book to my chest like it was a long lost child. I will treasure it FOREVER and someday read it to my grandchildren. I am forever in debt to my darling friend! And I WILL someday own the 'Make Believe' edition as well. But this is not a consolation prize, this is a perfect jewel of a book in its own right.

Have you see these books?? Do you OWN one of them? Can you believe how cool they are? The 'Nursery Tales' book is very reasonably priced, for the used book market, you can find a used copy for around $20.

Really. I REALLY wish you could have seen my reaction, you guys, when I opened this up! I think my husband and daughter thought I was having some kind of fit or attack.


  1. Oh, this looks like a fun book. I really like Rojankovsky's work. I find myself really drawn to books of unique size or shape - they bring a whole new dimension (hehehe) to the story inside.

    Good luck finding your own copy of "Make Believe"!

    1. Theses 'tall' books are really fun! I will continue to believe in my heart that the 'Make Believe' book will someday come my way.....for less than $300, ha ha.

  2. I love this. Rojankovsky is one of my favorite LGB illustrators.

    Our library has The Tall Book of Christmas. The one copy is in the storage collection, and it didn't photograph well, so I haven't blogged it. Maybe I'll try again this Christmas.

    1. OH please do! Blog that Christmas book! I would dearly love to see. :)

  3. I was up a little later than I should have been last night, investigating options for buying the Make believe tall book. :-) I had never heard of it before, so I was consumed with curiousity. I had picked up the Tall book of Mother Goose at a library sale for 50 cents a few years ago, and it is great! This fairy tale one looks super too, as in, it is on my buy list.

    So this Tall Book of Make Believe-- I checked back eBay sales and I saw a sort of beat up copy sold for $26 a few weeks ago. (I am not sure why I torture myself by looking at past auctions that I cannot do anything about.) And now, I feel like I MUST see this book.

    Thanks for giving me a new obsession. ;-)

    1. i'm CONSUMED with obsession over the Tall Book of Make Believe, Bethaney!! Consumed. I feel your pain!!

  4. This really is a beautiful book, and I would love to add it and The tall book of make believe to my collection. Once, many, many moons ago I found one of the Tall Books at a church jumble sale in Salisbury (UK). I can’t remember the title, I thought it was a pretty book but knowing nothing about it I didn’t want it for my collection so I listed it on eBay. I thought it might sell for about £5 and was utterly astounded when it went for over £100. It was only then that I realised I might have been holding a gem in my hands. I’ve been looking for more tall books ever since but I’ve never found any – serve me right. I have seen some for sale on ABEbooks but they are very expensive so I will keep searching all the local fairs/flea markets in the hope I will find one.

    1. Oh Barbara, that's an amazing tale!! Happy hunting to the both of us!! I need to get serious again about trying to find the Tall Book of Make Believe - I gave up the search and it's time I resume the hunt. :)


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