03 February 2008

The Three Golden Keys

For someone who loves picture books and used bookstores, I actually spend very little timein the children's sections of used bookstores. I guess this is because they are usually crammed in a neglected corner of the store, and usually nothing more than a mountain of chaos.

But this weekend while roaming the city on a unexpectedly beautiful day, I decide to brave the kid's section for a few minutes. I look over and the spine of one book pops out at me right away. It was a beautiful brand new hard copy of The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis.



Sis is one of the modern giants of children's literature, who truly elevates the medium to the level of high art. His books bring to mind the fiction of Borges, Italo Calvino, and Orhan Pahmuk... but with the added bonus of beautifully intricate illustrations.

After reading through the book, I flip back to the front and find this inscription:


"REACH FOR THE BEST--PETER SIS"

I plopped over the $15 for the book and after a quick google search it turns out that this is an autographed first edition which currently sells for $150!

So I guess I did "reach for the best" when I bent down to pluck this treasure off the store's bottom shelf. Thank you, Mr. Sis! Or should I say, thank you whoever was foolish enough to let go of the book in the first place!

4 comments:

TadMack said...

Oooh, nice! I love finding the odd first edition in the pile of dusty crud in the back corner of used bookstores. Lucky you! Even though I hate how the kid's sections look like flea markets that have exploded, it does mean that things stay VERY cheap... and cheap is my favorite word. Next to 'book...'

Andrew Warren said...

I just read this book two hours ago and based on what I read, you should perhaps be wary of wonderful things you randomly find, particularly if you find them when your hot air balloon runs out of air--(I assume, naturally, that this was the case).

I think, for example, that you should probably check your apartment carefully for: Vegetable Emperors; Robotic Beings who can walk through Walls; Prague; the Ghost of Franz Kafka; Blunt Statements about Childhood that Go In and Out of the Past Tense; Cats with Glowing Eyes; Vegetable Courtiers; tiny tiny scribbledy-hibbledy writing; Memories Stencil-Woven into the Visible Surface of All Visible Things Visible; Large Doors Shaped like Smiling Cats; Hundreds of Graves with Human Faces Glowing through Them; and Woozles.

But it did look like there was a free dinner at the end... so I say go for it.

Minh Le said...

Thanks Tadmack... yeah, I really should muster up the courage to dive into the kid's section more often... unfortunately, my cheapness is often offset by my laziness. On day, I shall get the better of myself though... just I wait...

and andy, I actually did find a couple vegetable emperors growing in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator. but they didn't offer me a free mail, on the contrary, they took away my appetite. So never trust an emperor, vegetable or otherwise.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Lovely find!

I have a copy of The Nutcracker which showed up in my mom's library gift pile-- and it was autographed by Maurice Sendak. I still wonder who was foolish enough to let that one go. That was before the deal with Bell Atlantic, when he'd decided he wasn't going to autograph books anymore. He changed his mind, because I then saw him autographing books at New York is Book Country.

But I digress.