29¢ Children’s Classics
Issue Date: October 23, 1993
City: Louisville, KY
Printed By: American Bank Note Co.
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
The Children’s Classics set of four stamps honors four fictional works that are part of every youngster’s childhood.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Although she wrote more than 20 children’s books, Kate Douglas Wiggin is best remembered for her endearing novel Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Born Kate Smith in Philadelphia in 1856, she spent her childhood in Maine.
Moving to California at age seventeen, she established the first kindergarten in the West, as well as a training school for teachers. To raise funds for her kindergarten projects, Wiggin began writing children’s books. Her first novel, The Story of Patsy, was published in 1883, and was followed four years later by the enormously popular The Birds’ Christmas Carol. Her greatest triumph, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, was published in 1903.
One of the few stories for young girls to rival Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, this lively tale tells the adventures of Rebecca Randall, who leaves Sunnybrook Farm after her father’s death to live with her aunts. Many of the novel’s characters, places, and events were taken from Wiggin’s childhood in Maine.
In addition to writing children’s stories, she also wrote several adult books and an autobiography.
Little House on the Prairie
Inspired by her childhood travels through the undeveloped frontier of the Midwest, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series known as the “Little House” books, has been praised as a vivid literary saga of the American frontier.
Born in 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin, Wilder traveled with her family by covered wagon through Kansas, Minnesota, and the Dakota Territory, where she met and married Almanzo Wilder. Although there was deprivation and hard work, there were also many happy times of love and laughter, all of which is captured in her endearing classics.
An editor for 12 years for the Missouri Ruralist, Wilder began recording her childhood experiences at the urging of her daughter. Published in 1935, Little House on the Prairie followed her first book, Little House in the Big Woods. Seven other books later became part of the series. Received warmly by the public, the popularity of her books was boosted by the success of the television series, which first aired in 1974.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Based on his childhood experiences along the Mississippi River, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provides a vivid record of 19th century America. Begun in 1876 as a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the book describes the adventures of two runaways - the boy Huckleberry Finn and a slave named Jim - as they travel on a raft down the Mississippi.
Told from Huckleberry Finn’s point of view, Twain used realistic language to make Huck’s speech sound like actual conversation, and imitated a variety of dialects to bring the other characters to life. It was this realistic use of speech that set Twain’s work apart from other writers of the day and influenced numerous other modern American authors. “All modern American literature comes from…Huckleberry Finn,” Ernest Hemingway once stated.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest American novels ever written, the book is not without its foes. As when it was first published in 1885, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn still receives criticism for Huck’s lack of morals, as well as his unrefined manners and careless grammar. Its deeper themes however, argue for equality and universal opportunities for all races.
Largely autobiographical, Little Women tells the story of four sisters growing up in New England in the 1800’s. Instantly popular with the public, this classic gave American juvenile fiction an enduring family story.
The daughter of noted philosopher and educational reformer Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott was surrounded by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau - all individuals who helped shape her ideas of social reform. When her father’s idealistic ventures repeatedly failed, she began working to support her family.
A nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War, she described her experiences in her first successful book, Hospital Sketches. In 1867 she became the editor of Merry’s Museum, a magazine for young girls. At the urging of her publisher to create a book for girls, she wrote Little Women. Published in 1868-69, the book was an immediate success. Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886) continued the story of the March family.