Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jan Balet's 'Amos and the Moon' part 4

As I've been preparing this week's scans from Jan Balet's 1948 book, Amos and the Moon, I couldn't help but marvel at some of the interesting details...

How times have changed! Can you imagine a children's book today that includes a nudie calendar as a prop?

Even the notion of a young child wandering alone down a city street, going shop to shop without parental supervision, is a frightening concept to most moms and dads in today's society.

A sad side effect of urban planning that encourages isolation and the corporatization of shopping. Balet shows us the charm of a time when people shopped in their own neighbourhoods and the shopkeepers were their friends and neighbours.

Another interesting point: Balet included shop owners from a variety of ethnic and national backgrounds, associating them to the sort of businesses they would stereotypically have been involved in. Perhaps I'm mistaken but I get the feeling that very few Americans (outside of a few large metroplolitan cities) could have related much to the likes of Zirimis the baker, Blanchard the butcher, Krailevizchs the shoe maker or Salvadore the barber.

Times have changed... that sort of 'united nations' inclusion is almost mandatory in modern kids lit (just as showing nudie calendars is definitely out) but in 1940's America, as much as Jan Balet's atypical style of art, it reveals, I think, a certain European sensibility.

* My Jan Balet Flickr set.


  1. It's very nice that we have the time capsule of these children's books to see how things were, in a simpler and perhaps more carefree age. It's a sad day when you can't include a nudie calendar (even a small, blurry one) in a kid's book.

  2. With those wonderful illustrations one can't help but feeling nostalgia about these times where your shopping was done in the neighbourhood and everybody knew each other.

  3. Thanks for another delightful series.
    Pensive writing on top of it!

    ...and all that for free...

  4. Leif
    Wonderful post
    Jan's illustration style wouldn't at first glance have been my cup of tea, but by homing in on details and your insightful commentary, you've brought the whole thing to life. Now I want to get on ebay and find an old copy of the book.
    Great stuff!

  5. Thank you all for your comments! Rodge, I am especially gratified to read that these posts have helped you see Jan Balet's artwork in a new light. Wonderful! :^)

  6. The art speaks for itself, the commentary is insightful. A step back in time or is it the now with a slant on life that we wish it to be? Its wonderful to scroll the streets of Jan Balet's Amos and the Moon.