Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vintage Collection Selection: The Crows of Pearblossom

A wonderful story, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, this is the only children's book written by Aldous Huxley, the famous English novelist, essayist and critic. He wrote it for his niece, Olivia de Haulleville, during the Christmas holiday of 1944. Olivia spent long periods of time with him and his wife Maria in their desert home in Llano in Antelope Valley, Mojave Desert, California. They took walks together, and Aldous and Maria would delight in telling stories to the little five-year-old girl. When Olivia and her family moved to Pearblossom, four miles from Llano, the Huxleys spent Christmas with the family and continued to make excursions into the desert they loved. Olivia's and her brother Siggy's neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Yost, are featured in the story, which was almost lost forever! A fire destroyed the Huxley home a few years later. Huxley's death in 1963 also left the story nearly in oblivion for many years. Fortunately the Yosts had kept a copy of the story, after the original manuscript had been returned to Aldous with the request that he illustrate it. The book was finally published in 1967 by Random House, and is now out of print.

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