A Delightful 1912 Children’s Book About a Wayward Rocket

Read a Delightful 1912 Children’s Book About a Wayward Rocket

Read a Delightful 1912 Children’s Book About a Wayward Rocket

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
July 31 2015 12:29 PM

A Delightful 1912 Children’s Book About a Wayward Rocket

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The Rocket Book, by Peter Newell, was published in 1912 by Harper & Brothers. The story is similar to that of Newell's The Hole Book (1908). In both volumes, a naughty child sets off a projectile, which careens through various spaces, leaving surprised onlookers in its wake. (In The Hole Book, the projectile was a bullet.) 

The Rocket Book takes place in a 21-story apartment building, a conceit that let Newell emphasize the vertical trajectory of the rocket. The reader tours a series of domestic spaces, watching the rocket catch a diverse group of early-20th-century urban-dwellers in the middle of their daily lives: listening to phonographs, playing ragtime on the piano, assembling a model train, or cranking a freezer to make ice cream. (My favorite apartment-dwellers are the "penny-liner," or freelance writer, toiling away at his typewriter, and the timid taxidermist working up his nerve to tackle a walrus' head.) 

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The Internet Archive's copy of the book, contributed by the Smithsonian Libraries, was once owned by an Elinor Goldman, of Chelsea, Massachusetts. Elinor or another child left traces in the book: bits of a label pasted into a page and a sweet illustration of a cat on the frontispiece. 

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