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Leo Politi, California Artist and Author

- Books by Leo Politi are offered below -

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California was fortunate to have Leo Politi as a resident during his wonderful career as an illustrator and author of children's books. And perhaps Mr. Politi was also fortunate to live in the Golden State, for he certainly drew much inspiration from it. Politi wrote and illustrated two books which were awarded Caldecott Honors: Pedro, The Angel of Olvera Street in 1947 and Juanita in 1949. Following this early success, Leo's beautiful Song of the Swallows was awarded the 1950 Caldecott Medal, making him the first California artist to win the award. Mr. Politi's lovely stories, with their colorful California settings, are considered modern classics and rank among the best picture books for children from the last century.

But that is only a very small part of the story. Mr. Politi endeared himself to Californians, both young and old alike. Mention Leo's name to most booklovers in Los Angeles and there is immediate recognition. In fact, along with a smile of delight, you'll often get an anecdote. These usually begin with "I met Politi once!" or "I knew Leo Politi!" or "Mr. Politi autographed my son's book for him!" People sought Leo out and he, being a generous and friendly soul, made himself available on many occasions to autograph his books and meet the children and adults who loved and appreciated his work.

Several libraries in California cities have children's rooms which are visually enriched with delightful murals painted by Mr. Politi and his "Blessing of the Animals" mural is at the entrance to the Eugene Biscailuz Building on Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. A local elementary school was named in Leo's honor. Los Angeles wholeheartedly embraced Leo Politi and his joyful, gentle art and he, in his turn, gave us back sensitive, warm portrayals of Angelenos and other Californians.

Mr. Politi's Juanita played a big part in the history of Appleby Books. In our early days as booksellers, we acquired a beautiful first edition of this title. Our copy was signed and inscribed with watercolor embellishments by Leo Politi. We fell in love with Politi's beautiful story of a Los Angeles child and the Blessing of the Animals and soon after decided to specialize in children's literature and illustrated books. We've been happy with our choice ever since and feel we have Leo Politi to thank for it.

The Politi family put up a wonderful website to commemorate the
Leo Politi 2008 Centennial. 2008 was a year of excitement in Los Angeles and all over California with many celebrations honoring Leo Politi and his wonderful art. Similar events took place in cities all over the country. More events are scheduled for 2009 so be sure to visit the site!
TO ORDER: Click images to go to a page on our site to order on our secure server. The "back" button will return you to this page. Write us with questions or call us at 323.478.0655 to leave your order on our secure voice mail. We're always adding more books by Leo Politi so if there's a title you're searching for, please inquire. We may have it!

Bunker Hill, Los Angeles: Reminiscences of Bygone Days (signed)
Palm Desert: Desert-Southwest, 1964. First Edition. Folio. Gilt decorated grey cloth. [72]pp with 25 wonderful illustrations from Leo Politi's paintings, each accompanied by his stories of the residents and homes of Bunker Hill. Leo Politi lived on Bunker Hill in the Thirties and loved the neighborhood with its once stately houses. When he began work on this book, he had to call on his memories and old sketches to recreate homes that had already been removed. Politi's book is an enduring portrait of a lovely and gracious time and place in Los Angeles history. LA Times clipping by Jack Smith about Leo Politi laid in. This copy SIGNED AND DATED 1964 by Leo Politi and with his beautiful watercolor flower embellishments. Fine in slightly soiled, lightly frayed dustjacket. $260.00

Moy Moy (signed)
New York: Scribner's (1960). First Edition. Quarto. Decorated red cloth. [32]pp with many beautiful full-color and two color illustrations by Leo Politi. The story of Chinese New Year as celebrated on Chanking Street in Los Angeles with little Moy Moy, her brothers and her parents. Moy Moy and her family are real people Leo Politi got to know while working on this book. (I had the pleasure of briefly meeting the charming grown-up Moy Moy and her tall brothers in 2008 at one of the centennial celebrations for Mr. Politi.) There's a fascinating story about Moy Moy which Leo didn't include in his book but which you can read here: members.cox.net/june.yan/moy/info/wellfrank.pdf. Inscribed "with affection" by Leo Politi and with a delightful watercolor painting on the ffep of little Moy Moy holding her bee toy and reaching up to try to touch the hanging wind chimes. Near Fine. Jacket edge worn with closed tears, piece missing at spine head, small chips at upper corners. A special copy. $600.00

Pedro the Angel of Olvera Street (signed)
Politi, Leo. New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1946. First Edition. 8vo Blue decorated cloth. [32]pp with color and black & white illustrations throughout by the author. Because he sings like an angel, Pedro is chosen to lead the Posada on Olvera Street wearing a pair of little red wings. Leo Politi received his first Caldecott Honor in 1947 for this lovely book. This copy has Politi's wonderful SIGNED DRAWING of Pedro on the front endpaper. Jacket pieces are pasted opposite the title page and on the rear endpaper. Part of a jacket for Juanita is pasted on a blank page. Stitching is pulled and the book is shaken thus Fair to Good. Contents are clean. $150.00

The Mission Bell (signed)
Politi, Leo. New York: Scribner's, 1953. First Edition. Oblong 8vo. Decorated blue cloth. [32]pp. A wonderful picture book with Leo Politi's color illustrations throughout. The story of Father Junipero Serra's travels in the California wilderness, of his interest in the Indians and of his building of the missions. This copy with the artist's lovely watercolor embellished INSCRIPTION AND SIGNATURE to the ffep: "With all best wishes, Leo Politi, 1955". Near Fine in about Good dustjacket (edge worn with several tears, chipped at spine ends and corners. The original store sticker was taped to the verso of the upper flap and left two small brown marks). $350.00

The Noble Doll
Coatsworth, Elizabeth. Illustrated by Leo Politi. New York: Viking (1961). First Edition. 8vo. Pink cloth. 48pp with lovely full and double-page color and black & white illustrations by Leo Politi. Set in Mexico, this is the story of an old woman fallen on hard times, the young girl who loves her, and a very special and very old doll, the beautiful Rosita, who helps to save this little family during the Christmas season. Fine. Dustjacket with light spotting to lower panel, tiny chips at spine head. $125.00

The Butterflies Come
Politi, Leo
New York: Scribner's (1957). First Edition. Quarto. Yellow cloth stamped with orange butterflies. [32]pp with lovely color illustrations by Leo Politi including two of his wonderful double-page spreads. Lucia and Stephen live in Monterey and this is Lucia's first year to see thousands of monarch butterflies alight in the trees in Pacific Grove. She and her brother will take part in the annual Butterfly Festival which celebrates the beautiful butterflies and their annual journey south from Canada. Tidy inscription to ffep, upper corners bumped else Very Good in Good dustjacket. Jacket lightly soiled and worn with a few closed tears. $100.00

Aqui se habla espagnol
Lopez, Margarita and Brown, Esther. Illustrated by Leo Politi. Boston: Heath (1942). 5''x7'' Decorated cloth. 188pp. Many double-page, full-page and smaller illustrations by Leo Politi. Cloth lightly soiled, penciled words throughout the text, upper corners a little bumped. Good. A school book designed to teach the vocabulary necessary for speaking Spanish, enhanced with Politi's delightful art. $20.00

The Nicest Gift
Politi, Leo. (New York): Scribner's (1973). First Edition. 4to Pictorial cloth (publisher's reinforced binding). [32]pp. Color illustrations throughout by Politi, including some of his wonderful double-page spreads. Carlito lives in the East Los Angeles barrio with his father and mother and his beloved dog, Blanco. On a trip to the mercado right before Christmas, little Blanco vanishes in the crowd. Slight darkening at endpaper gutters from paste action else Fine. Dustjacket with several closed edge tears, a little scuffing at edges of lower panel. [SOLD]

Piccolo's Prank
Politi, Leo. New York: Scribner's, 1965. First Edition. 4to Decorated blue cloth. [32]pp with wonderful color illustrations by the author. This title was published shortly before Bunker Hill's fine old gingerbread houses were torn down, but Leo Politi preserved his beloved neighborhood for the children who would read this story about a mischievous monkey. Leo dedicated his book to the woman who fed the little animals and birds on Bunker Hill and she can be seen sitting on her porch in the dustjacket illustration. Settlement House stamp to free endpaper and small paper label indicating this book was "Presented by the Children's Book Council." Very Good in dustjacket with closed tear to lower panel, wear at folds. $125.00

The Poinsettia (signed)
Politi, Leo. Palm Desert: Best-West (1967). First Edition. Folio. Decorated blue cloth. [48]pp with many lovely full-page and smaller color illustrations plus small black & white vignettes by Leo Politi. Politi celebrates the beauty and diversity of Los Angeles with his wonderful art, depicting Olvera Street, the Bradbury Building, Japanese Town, the Watts Towers, Alpine Hill, Grand Central Market and other local landmarks. His text and images bring us Hanukkah, Christmas on Main Street, an African-American church choir and the Legend of the Poinsettia. This copy is INSCRIBED AND SIGNED by Politi with his colorful embellishments, dated 1967. Light wear to spine heel and a small poinsettia illustration is meticulously painted with watercolors else Very Good. Dustjacket is about Good -- very worn and torn on edges and at folds with pieces missing at spine ends. $225.00

All Things Bright and Beautiful
Alexander, Carl Frances. Illustrations by Leo Politi. New York: Scribner's, 1966. Fourth printing. 4to Beige cloth. [32]pp. The words and music to this beautiful hymn are accompanied by Politi's pictorial interpretation in lovely color and black & white illustrations. Very Good. Jacket worn with long closed tears and small chips. $35.00

Little Leo
Politi, Leo. New York: Scribner's, 1951. First Edition. Quarto. Publisher's reinforced pictorial cloth. [32]pp with color illustrations throughout. A story based on Leo Politi's own childhood. Little Leo loved watching the Indians in the movies and one day his father bought him his own wonderful Indian Chief suit. When little Leo and his family traveled to his father's village in Italy, all the children were enchanted with Leo's suit and wanted to be Indians too! Minor wear to upper corner tips else Very Good. A dustjacket from the 1967 printing has been married with the book. Jacket with small chips at spine ends, wear to corners. $40.00

The Horn Book Magazine, April 1966, Number 2, Volume XLII
Viguers, Ruth Hill. Boston: The Horn Book, 1966. 8vo Staple-bound pictorial wraps. pp. 117-260. Illustrated. Book reviews, publishers' advertisements, regular features and articles including "Poetry for Children" by Harry Behn, "The People in Books" by Jean Little, "Boris Artzybasheff" by Louise Seaman Bechtel and "To the Children With Love, From Leo Politi" by Roberta Nichols wherein the Caldecott Award-winning artist discusses painting Bunker Hill and Angel's Flight for Piccolo's Prank. Covers darkened at spine and edges, lightly soiled else Very Good. [SOLD]

Clark, Ann Nolan. Illustrated by Leo Politi. New York: Viking, 1952. First Printing. 8vo. Turquoise cloth. 53pp with black & white drawings and many beautiful double-page color illustrations by Leo Politi. The story of a little grey Ecuadorian burro who doesn't want to be just a stray burro but wants to belong to someone. Very Good+ Jacket chipped at spine ends and corners, showing wear at folds, small pencil marks to edge of upper panel. [SOLD]

Politi, Leo. San Carlos: Golden Gate Junior Books (1969). First Edition. 4to Illustrated Boards. [32]pp with the artist's wonderful color illustrations throughout, including two magnificent double-page spreads. Mieko (Beautiful Graceful Girl) dreams of becoming queen of the Ondo Parade during the annual Nisei Week festival in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo. Spine heel bumped else Very Good+ in lightly frayed dustjacket. Inscribed and signed by Politi with flower and butterfly embellishments, dated 1970. A lovely copy of this beautiful book. [SOLD]

Three Stalks of Corn
Politi, Leo. (New York): Scribner's, 1975. First Printing. 4to Decorated blue cloth. [32]pp. With Politi's charming color illustrations throughout. Set in Pico Rivera, California, this is the story of Angelica and her abuelita (grandmother). It's also the story of corn and its place in the history and legend of the Mexican people. At the end of the story, Politi included two delicious recipes for the enchiladas and tacos the children make in the book. Fine in Very Good+ dustjacket, lightly frayed and worn. [SOLD]

Politi, Leo. (New York): Scribner's, 1948. First Edition. 8.5"x10" Cloth-backed boards. [32]pp with wonderful full color and two-color illustrations throughout by Leo Politi. Little Juanita takes her dove to the Blessing of the Animals on Olvera Street on the Saturday before Easter. Politi inscribed and signed this copy to the ffep, dated Easter 1949, and embellished his signature with colorful decorative flowers. A newspaper clipping affixed to the upper paste-down from the Los Angeles Daily News, March 11, 1950, announces that Mr. Politi is the first California artist to win the Caldecott Medal for his book, "Song of the Swallows." A 1949 Caldecott Honor book. Boards lightly rubbed, spine ends show wear. Some offsetting to inscription from clipping. Small repaired tear bottom of ffep else Good+ Dustjacket with chipping and edge wear. [SOLD]

Some of the Jack and Jill covers illustrated by Leo Politi in the 1940's and 50's