A mini-exhibit of reproductions of the late Where the Wild Things Are children’s book author/artist Maurice Sendak’s first illustrations in a mass-market publication, Atomics for the Millions, is on display in the Science and Engineering Library (SEL, 8270 Boelter Hall) this month.
Sendak’s high school physics teacher, Hyman Ruchlis, co-authored the book in 1947 with Maxwell Leigh Eidenhoff, who had been a research group supervisor of Manhattan Project laboratories at Columbia University and Chicago University. Atomics was pitched as an “amazingly clear and non-technical book [that] actually enables the reader to understand the basic principles behind the development of atomic energy – - without any previous scientific or mathematical training.”
Peter D. Sieruta’s blog, Collecting Children’s Books, describes the origins and contents of this early popular-press science book, and how Ruchlis recruited Sendak to illustrate it.
SEL is displaying UCLA’s two copies of the first edition of Atomics for the Millions: a circulating, library cloth-bound copy, and a “special collections” copy with the elusive and sought-after illustrated dustjacket. The paper in both copies has a slightly-browned but still very serviceable appearance because, as the back of the title page notes, “the quality of the materials used in the manufacture of this book is governed by continued postwar shortages.”
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections