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The things that a mother will do for her child…

December 14, 2018, 2:00 PM

One of my favorite books as a small child was Sir Andrew by Paula Winter.  For those not familiar, it is a wordless picture book about a donkey who is very vain, who both gets in and causes trouble over the course of the story due to his vanity.  We first found it at the library in Rogers, Arkansas, where we lived at the time.  Apparently, I wanted my own copy of Sir Andrew, having liked the book that much.  However, in the mid 1980s, over a decade before Amazon and the Internet became commonplace, locating a book like that for purchase was a very tall order.  So my mother did what she could to make me happy: she photocopied the entire book, colored it, and bound it.  I knew that it was a homemade copy from the moment that I saw it, but I was pleased as punch nonetheless.  This was the Sir Andrew that I grew up with:

My bootleg copy of Sir Andrew

I got many hours of enjoyment out of this book as a child.  However, I always wondered how the colors in my bootleg copy compared to the real book.  So a few weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and ordered myself a real copy of the book on Amazon:

My legit copy of Sir Andrew

Fittingly, my copy is a former library book.  When I opened the book, I expected to see a very different set of colors compared to the bootleg version.  Surprisingly, what I saw as far as color went was not unfamiliar.  Mom went for accuracy more than I realized.

Here’s a page from early in the story, showing Sir Andrew getting dressed:

Bootleg copy

Real copy

The colors are, for the most part, right, and in the right places.  Sir Andrew was not lavishly colored to begin with, but rather, made use of a muted color palette to draw contrast between certain objects.  Mom used bolder colors, most likely due to the materials that she had on hand, but I don’t mind the result.

Here’s another illustration, from the middle of the story:

Bootleg copy

Real copy

Mom more or less nailed it, emphasizing the right objects with color, and fairly closely matching the colors, with a little extra color in the wares in the right window as the only noticeable difference.  This page also illustrates exactly how vain Sir Andrew is.  Notice that he is admiring his reflection in the mirror rather than watching where he is going, not seeing the open cellar door ahead of him.

Mom didn’t necessarily nail it on every page, though:

Bootleg copy

Real copy

In this situation, she took a little bit of artistic license with the cars, giving them a lot more color than they had originally.  But I like it that way.  Something about that orange Volkswagen that just seems to work.

And here’s one more instance where Mom was more or less spot on:

Bootleg copy

Real copy

Going to show once again that Sir Andrew is interested in one person, and one person only: himself.  Note that he rushes out into traffic without looking as he was chasing his hat, causing an accident, and also knocks over a trash can, which causes a painter to fall.  He doesn’t notice either.  The last page of the book shows him about to slip on a banana peel that he doesn’t see because he is still admiring his own reflection.

All in all, I’m glad to finally have a real copy of Sir Andrew.  The real copy and the bootleg copy now live side by side on my bookshelf.  I will always treasure the bootleg copy, which used index cards to give it strength, and contact paper to give it resilience, as part of my childhood.  But now I’m glad to have a real copy as well, to be able to compare the two.  Knowing how much Mom went for accuracy in making my childhood copy makes me admire it even more.

Categories: Family, Popular culture