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Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever (Giant Golden Book) Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, September 1, 1999
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From the Back Cover
This is a Richard Scarry book for children about the best word book ever.
About the Author
RICHARD SCARRY is one of the world's best-loved children's authors EVER! In his extraordinary career, Scarry illustrated over 150 books, many of which have never been out of print. His books have sold over 100 million copies around the world, and are currently published in over twenty languages. No other illustrator has shown such a lively interest in the words and concepts of early childhood. Richard Scarry was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators in 2012.
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A few notes on the differences between the unabridged "1400 Objects" edition of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, published 1963-1979 vs. the later 1980- "Revised" version. (Note not all post 1980 printings include the word revised on the cover, but they are all the revised edition.)
Golden books asked for a the late edit, which consists of three basic changes:
1. Political correctness, more animals are made "female" by attaching bows to their illustrations in the later edition.
2. 20 pages were removed, and lighter weight paper was used, to reduce printing costs.
3. Complexity of the vocabulary was reduced.
Someone noted the price difference, demand for the longer and more complex original exceeds supply, as it is out of print, and not likely to reappear.
While both versions are fine books, and an asset to any child's library, those seeking a cheaper book may seek the edited 70 page Abridged edition (anything 1980 or later,) but parents with the budget to cover it would probably want to consider the original, which goes more in depth.
A brief example to illustrate the point. Both editions have a section on art, describing colors and how they mix, paints, crayons, pencils and erasers. The later edition stops here. The earlier "Unabridged" goes on to introduce artists, sketches, canvas, murals, finger painting, still lifes, models, palletes, etc.
This wider reach of vocabulary and concepts is thematic of the 20 pages which were removed in the 1980 edit. The later edition still makes a fine starter and welcome edition to any child's library.
Here's what the book is: The Best Word Book Ever has pages and pages of vocabulary building illustrations. Each two page spread covers a different topic, and the pages are nice and big so lots of pictures of objects related to that topic can fit on each page, along with captions. Each page also has a short sentence about the scene, and a question your child can try to answer while looking at the illustrations. For example, for actions, the question is "What is one thing you can't do?" And, when you look at the pictures of animals, a fly is flying, and the caption points out that you can't do it. The question for each page is something I especially like, because it can make a child slow down and try to study or read the page more. And some questions are more open ended (ie. What do you think each animal will do next?) so the child won't just memorize and point to the answer on the 5th reading.
The back story is that when this was first published in 1963, it had 92 pages. Then, in 1980, it was changed to the new revised edition which has 71 pages and is still in print today, as of 2014. That new revised edition also went back and politically corrected each page. For "Toys", a pig shooting marbles got a dress and bow and went from male to female, and lots of genders changed. And, on the cover illustration, mom in the kitchen alone was redrawn to mom and dad cooking together in the kitchen. Other changes are more hmmm? For "Keeping Healthy", a big scarey looking rhinocerous dentist was changed to a cuddly looking bear dentist. Maybe so kids won't be scared of the dentist?
Anyway, on to the unabridged edition:
The biggest advantage to buying an unabridged copy is the extra pages. I get 20 more pages, or 10 extra 2 page spreads of scenes, that are edited out of the current edition. I have to say, though, that the removed pages feel choppier to me. So, in my 1969 edition, some pages have a nice illustration that stretches across the full two page spread, and some have characters dotting the page like clip art. Those ones that are more like clip art dotting the page are the ones that got removed. Lots of the reviewers complaining about the abridgement go on about the Flower Garden being removed, but really it is just pictures of different flowers against a white background. There is no garden, or path through it. It's like clip art.
The biggest disadvantage to buying an unabridged copy is the hassle of getting one. Amazon merged all the pages and all the reviews for both the older longer edition, and a board book version which is a board book with 2 foot high pages. So, good luck figuring out what you are reading a review for, when you read any given review. It could be a 92 page book, it could be a 72 page book, it could be a 24 page board book that is 2 feet tall. And, good luck buying used copies from any bug resellers, because it's much more likely for them to post the book under the wrong edition. What a mess. "Standard used condition" tells you nothing about condition or what book you are getting. So, you are stuck reading book descriptions to find something that lists the 92 page count. It's less clean than with a book that is truly 100% out of print. And, also, my used copy came tore up - just tore up. It's old and it's a children's book, so that's two things going against you getting a nice clean copy no matter how much you shop for one.
If you want a taste of the older book, without buying on, the "Best Storybook Ever" has several pages from the 1963 edition of the Best Word Book Ever. It has "In the Flower Garden", which is the removed page that most people seem to miss most. It also has several other scenes from the Best Word Book Ever, and it has those scenes reproduced from the 1963 edition. So, they politically corrected Best Work Book Ever, but didn't take those corrections over to the same exact reproduced pages in Best Storybook Ever. You can hop on over to that book and use "Look Inside" to see "The Rabbit Family's House" on page 8 of Best Storybook Ever with mom cooking alone in the kitchen. The only edits there are to change from larger pages in this book to smaller pages in that one.
Really, if you are missing the old unabridged Best Word Book Ever, then Best Storybook Ever is a good option, because it's so much simpler to buy and you can get it new and clean.
However, I specifically bought this book because my preschooler loves Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town. Unfortunately this book is both too similar and too dissimilar to "Busy, Busy Town". The main thing is that my child's favorite characters Huckle and Lowly are not in this book. I think that with an original publication date of 1963, this book must predate Busy Town and those two characters. The second problem is that "Busy, Busy Town" recycles way too much material from "Best World Book Ever". (I know this problem mainly lies with "Busy, Busy Town", which was published posthumously.) After browsing some other Busy Town books in the bookstore, I see that many of the books repeat material in this way. However, the illustrations aren't reprinted, they're totally redrawn, so it's not like the pages are exactly the same.
I think this would be a good first Busy Town book, but not if your child is specifically looking for Huckle and Lowly.