Monday, November 14, 2011

Words of gold from Paul Margulies

Paul Margulies authored a children's book in 1969 titled Gold Steps, Gold Stones, with lavish illustrations by James Kenton (J.K.) Lambert. It was published by Harlin Quist, who was known for his elaborately designed books and standard of excellence in children's book publishing in the 1960s and 1970s.

I found this copy of a first printing languishing inconspicuously on a corner shelf of a resale shop and, though unfamiliar with the author, illustrator, and publisher, recognized the book as a quality piece of work worth having and researching.

Margulies wrote this fantasy tale of a boy's journey and adventures for his children, one of whom grew up to become an Emmy Award-winning actor. Her name is Julianna Margulies (popularly known for her roles in ER and The Good Wife, among other television and film roles). Her father authored one more children's book that I know of, this one specifically for her: What Julianna Could See.

 Paul Margulies was an advertising writer, who wrote something much more memorable in popular culture than this children's books. For an Alka-Seltzer ad campaign, he came up with the well-known television jingle: "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh wait a relief it is." I'd bet, though, that for Julianna and her sisters, their father's most memorable writing had to be the books he wrote for them.

Gold Steps, Gold Stones is about a boy who who lives in a house made of gold and embarks upon a journey of fantasy for which he has a gold box he cannot open until the journey is completed. He becomes a boy King in a strange new land, helps people in need, and leaves at the end of his one-year tenure for a desert island. There, a stone walkway leads to a stone cottage, all of which turn to gold as he makes his way inside, where he discovers he has actually arrived home.

Having ended his travels, he is finally able to open the gold box he has carried so long and faithfully not opened. Now the open box reveals a miniature version of the room he and his family are sitting in.The inside of the box's lid reveals images all the people he helped on his journey. Had he opened it during the journey, he wouldn't have seen anything. But he did as his father told him, helped people where he could, and was able to return home to a golden home where the sun shone splendidly upon the walls where his family dwelled. It's not to hard to find the lessons or moral of this charming little story.

J.K. Lambert's colorful illustrations evoke a fantasy world appropriate for the dream-like travels of the young boy who became a King and found gold in his family and accomplishments away from them.

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