An Awful Warning to Bad Babas. By the Author of "Little Black Mingo" and "Little Black Quibba." London: James Nisbet & Co., 1903. Original light olive cloth illustrated in black and printed in red.
First Edition of the most unusual, and one of the least-known, of Helen Bannerman's eight small-format books for children. Five of the eight were about "black" children (though they were really about native Tamils in the region of southern India where Helen Bannerman lived) -- usually outwitting fierce animals that threatened them: LITTLE BLACK SAMBO (1899), LITTLE BLACK MINGO (1901), LITTLE BLACK QUIBBA (1902), LITTLE BLACK QUASHA (1908) and LITTLE BLACK BOBTAIL (1909). Her other three were this one, PAT AND THE SPIDER (1905) and THE TEASING MONKEY (1907).
LITTLE DEGCHIE-HEAD (a "degchie" is a large handle-less pot frequently used in Indian cuisine) is about a little (white) girl named Mary who despite warnings from her mother, cannot resist poking at fires; one day she falls into the fire and literally loses her head. Domingo the cook finds her headless body and manages to affix a deghie onto her shoulders as a temporary head (with his artwork for eyes nose and mouth) -- after which Mary hides her head in shame. But on Christmas Eve, Old Father Christmas comes to visit, sees that she needs a new head, and leaves a beautiful doll's head, which, in the morning, Mary successfully glues onto her neck -- after which Mary would never go near a fire any more. As in all of the Bannerman books, the color illustrations (many of which are strange to say the least) are opposite the text, with the reverse side of both leaves blank.
This is a near-fine copy, with scarcely any soil or wear (one light red dampmark on the fore-edge of the leaves). Item #12153