The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939

Dear Mr. Harris:

and now there is a small maiden just over three years old, who only knows enough to call the superb Uncle Remus "The Bunny Book" and this afternoon, I have been unfolding to her the mysteries of The Tar Baby. She realizes, acutely, that if once you hit a tar baby, you can't get away, but for the life of her she can't see why. They explained its the same as the mucilage pot that she mustn't touch and she is awed. and it was only the day before yesterday I was lying on my stomach in front of a fire at school reading Uncle Remus on my own hook. so now my debt to you is two generations deep. May you live to see it four.

What a splendid job Frost has made of the pictures. They fit, as Tenniels did to Alice in Wonderland—and they will march down the ages as the signed
and sealed pattern of Brer Rabbit & the others. So complete is there accuracy and inevitableness that I found myself saying with a snort: — "of course that's Brer Rabbit—any damn fool knows that. Now let's see what Frost has made out of it." That is good enough illusion. I have never come across any book yet till I opened your gift, where the beasts just naturally had to wear clothes. So natural is their unnaturalness that the pictures of Brer Rabbit playing dead on the road to deceive Brer Fox shock me as indecent—and I don't think I'm a prudish soul—because he hadn't his trousers on. The heck-jumping fox is a beautiful little bit of action. They are good and I am a rich man. The baby would bless you if she knew how things are managed in this world but she has an iron belief that all the works that she knows were written by her father and illustrated by her grandfather. I heard her explain to the nurse, serenely as if these things happened about every twenty minutes: "Father has made me another book!" If chance or fate ever bring me south be sure I shall avail me of your kind invitation. We were 28° below zero last night so I will not
beg you to come up here yet awhile

with renewed thanks
yours ever sincerely
Rudyard Kipling.