LE LIVRE DES PETITS ENFANTS — ~ Nouvel alphabet — Contenant — Des alphabets variés — des exercises gradués jusqu’a la lecture courante — un choix de maximes et de proverbes appropriés a l’enfance — un petit recueil de notions usuelles — des contes moraux — historiettes — fables — poésies... Paris: [Schneider et Legrand for] J. Hetzel, 1843.
8vo (180 × 118 mm), pp. , 115,  (advert). Wood engraved frontispiece to verso of half-title, several alphabets (one double-page) and numerous vignettes (some of the latter neatly hand coloured, probably by an early owner). Very light browning, one or two ink splashes. Early pink calf decorated in gilt and blind, gilt edges. Rubbed, corners slightly worn, small stain to lower cover. Nineteenth-century inscription to a front free endpaper: ‘Cecilia FitzPatrick from Mama. Long ago!’. A very good copy
First edition of this children’s primer for the alphabet and elementary reading. The alphabets are given in varying types to aid recognition, and then a graduated scheme of reading provides short texts in syllabic form in large type, moving to standard orthography in regular type. The texts include stories and fables by Fénelon, La Fontaine, Benjamin Franklin (’Le Sifflet’ a translation of ‘The Whistle’), Nodier, and Balzac (an early collaborator of Hetzel, who contributed his story ‘Tony Sans-Soin’). The charming vignettes (some later coloured, presumably by a careful child) are by Séguin, Meissonnier, Grandville and others.
Le Livre des Petits Enfants,was one of the very earliest publications by juvenile publishing pioneer Pierre-Jules Hetzel and though not marked as such in this first edition, was to form the first volume of his Nouveau Magasin de Enfants series (which ran to 17 more titles by 1857). It was reprinted several times, but the first edition is rare. Vicaire pp. 227-8. Penelope E. Brown, A Critical History of French Children's Literature, 2011, p. 19. Worldcat lists copies at Columbia and NYPL only outside continental Europe. COPAC/JISC adds a copy at Aberystwyth.