The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > December 2011 > Ground Control to Major Fritz
Ground Control to Major Fritz

What happens when you light a rocket indoors? Fritz, the janitor’s son, did just that in the Peter Newell classic, “The Rocket Book.” From the basement, the rocket travels through 20 floors of an apartment building, upending and surprising the building’s inhabitants. Needless to say, none of them ever realize it’s a rocket.

“The Rocket Book,” by Peter Newell. 1912. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction information not available. Girl sitting with legs folded, reading a book. 1900. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC2-5999 (color film copy slide); Call No.: LOT 3222, no. 89 [P&P]

Long before Dr. Seuss, an American artist delighted a generation of children and their parents with hilarious, topsy-turvy illustrations and slightly subversive tales told in rhyme. This was illustrator/author Peter Newell, whose book, “The Rocket Book,” was published in 1912. Featured as a classic children’s book on Read.gov, viewers can get up close and personal thanks to page-turner technology.

The Library also has a copy of Newell’s “The Slant Book” (1910). In this book, a toddler's stroller careens down a hill and wreaks havoc on the townspeople. As an added bonus, the book is actually set on a slant.

Newell often illustrated the works of other authors, such as Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, John Kendrick Bangs and Lewis Carroll.

Read.gov was developed to bring together in one place all the reading and literacy resources on the various Library of Congress websites. It features pages specifically designed for kids, teens, adults, and parents and teachers.