I used to hate Google Books, but it’s slowly growing on me.
Sure, I usually run across a few pages scanned with someone’s broad and long-nailed thumb blocking half the page. And sure, it recommends the weirdest stuff for me… like The Economics of Forestry and novels by Sir Walter Scott. (I hate Sir Watler Scott, and yet Google Books insists that I read The Lay of the Last Minstrel.) But for someone like me, who usually is looking for a text with an expired copyright, it’s extremely useful. Almost everything I want to access is available in full view, with page images. And Google Books often pulls through for me when I am lazy and need to locate something published more than 100 years ago right now immediately oh crap this chapter is due tomorrow.
So lately I’ve been adding books to my online library and appending useful little notes to myself about why such books are important. Forgotten Books of the American Nursery by Rosalie Halsey. Children’s Rights: A Book of Nursery Logic by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Andrew Lang’s fairy books. When I’m feeling a little lazy but still want to be productive, I look up something written for children in the 1800s and browse.
Every once in a while, you run across something really weird. Like this, an illustration entitled “The Devil and the Disobedient Child”:
There is so much to say. (a) That is one full-figured child. (b) Is that five o’clock shadow on her chin? (c) Doesn’t the Devil look friendlier than the disobedient “child”?
And, last but not least, (d) What is she snacking on? And why won’t she share with the Devil, who is obviously asking “Hey, are you gonna eat that?”