Displayed below are the first six titles in the timeless "How and Why Wonder Book" series, a series of books on science, nature, history and the environment, aimed at capturing the imagination of youth. These books have long since become "collectibles" in their own right, and given the extensive scope of the series and its various formats, it is no mean feat to obtain a "complete" collection of these works.
The How and Why Wonder Book Series
The How and Why Wonder Book series was originally published in North America by children's book giant, Grosset and Dunlap, Inc. Already well known for its various children's fiction series (such as the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift Jr. and the Bobbsey Twins, to name just a few), Grosset and Dunlap made a decision to inject itself into the children's "non-fiction" market in a big way with the introduction, in 1960, of the How and Why Wonder book series.
For collectors, this series is complex and oftentimes confusing; especially given the fact that the entire scope of the series spans several decades and a number of different publishers and distributors, too. Yet, the usual focus for North American collectors are the books published in the 1960's and 1970's under the Grosset and Dunlap (or Wonder Books Inc.) imprint. As such, these years will be the primary focal point within these web pages, with only minor emphasis placed on the series from 1980 onwards.
This website will deal, almost exclusively, with only the "North American" version of the series and will not attempt to detail the U.K. versions of the books, as published by Transworld Publishers of London, other than to make the occasional reference to that series whenever deemed relevant.
Given that the How and Why Wonder Book series offered both "softcover" and "hardcover" versions; had, at various times, "painted" and/or "photo" covers; published a handful of "compilation" volumes; and spawned several other closely related Grosset and Dunlap series, it is no wonder that general confusion exists. To make matters worse, there are several existing websites with either inaccurate or incomplete information posted to them. We will also attempt to correct these shortcomings via the content of the following pages.
The 8 1/2 x 11 Inch Format
Why did publisher Grosset and Dunlap choose an 8 1/2" x 11" page and cover format for this series?
The answer to this is two-fold. Firstly, the 8 1/2" x 11" format was already widely in use by many North American publishers of children's books. For example, the photos below showcase a few of Grosset and Dunlap's main competitors' publications. The first photo illustrates a number of children's books published by rival, Random House, Inc, in the 1950's and 1960's. Granted, they are all fictional themes (Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Barbie's Adventures at Camp), but they do display the inclination of publishers to employ this size format during that era.
The second photo displays the front covers of other 8 1/2" x 11" books produced by publishers Simon and Schuster (Zorro), Golden Press, Inc. (Our Sun and the Worlds Around it), and Encyclopedia Britannica (Knight of the Middle Ages). Both the Golden Press book and the Encyclopedia Britannica series were considered to have been direct competition to the How and Why Wonder Book series (given that they were based on science, nature and history themes), but the Encyclopedia Britannica series was directed at a much younger youth audience as evidenced by the elementary school level text contained within them.
The second reason that Grosset and Dunlap chose to produce the series in an 8 1/2" x 11" format was "eye appeal" and retail store display prominence. The beautifully painted artwork and the wide range of colors employed on the front covers would ensure that these books would stand out on department store book shelves and attract buyers' (and, more importantly, kids') attention.
Grosset and Dunlap Book Numbers
A successful line of small children's story books was published during the 1940's and 1950's under the "Wonder Books" banner. These story books were ideal for parents to use as "bedtime stories," or as reading primers, because they covered many diverse juvenile themes, such as fairy tales, cartoon characters, fantasy stories and the like. Grosset and Dunlap devised a "book numbering" system to differentiate between the different titles and authors and began numbering these volumes with a simple "three digit" number coding that ran in a (relatively) sequential manner.
As Grosset and Dunlap's product lines grew, they began to use "four-digit" book numbers, too. These four-digit numbers were used on many of the popular fiction series and, commencing in 1960, also on the How and Why Wonder Book series. The photo below illustrates some of the hardcover fiction books that were printed with a "four-digit" identifier.
Note the following book numbers illustrated in the above photo. The Hardy Boys books are numbered in sequence, commencing with #8901 for "The Tower Treasure" (the first book in the series), then followed by #8902 for "The House on the Cliff," #8903 for "The Secret of the Old Mill," #8904 for "The Missing Chums," and so on. In a similar fashion, the Tom Swift Jr. title, "Tom Swift in the Race to the Moon," bears #9112. Given that "Race to the Moon" is the twelfth book in the Tom Swift Jr. Adventures series, one can guess that the first book in the series was likely #9101. But, book series did not always commence in a similar fashion. Take a look at the Peggy Lane Theater Stories book on the far right. This book, entitled "Peggy Finds the Theater," is the first book in this particular series, yet it bears #4900. (We will discover later that the same type of inconsistent numbering logic was applied to How and Why Wonder books, too.) And, finally, the book on the far left, "Fury and the White Mare," bears #7073, but is not part of an extensive "Fury" series which this number relates to. It is just a general sequential number applied to this book, one of several "non-series" books that required an identifier number. (It is not wholly correct to call this a "non-series" book since there were three separate "Fury" books published by Grosset and Dunlap in a similar hardcover format, but publishing date would have dictated their four-digit numbers since three books would have been too small a "series" to warrant their own reserved block of numbers.)
Prior to the 1960 commencement of the "How and Why Wonder Book" series (hereinafter to be referred to, simply as "H&W" books) by Grosset and Dunlap (hereafter to be simply referred to as "G&D"), these four-digit numbers were already being printed on 8 1/2" x 11" sized books. Pictured above is a 1957 printing of "The Illustrated Book of Knights" by author Jack Coggins, and it can be seen to be G&D book #3378.
The First Six Books - There Really Wasn't Any "Wonder"
If you have ever been asked the question, "What came first, the chicken or the egg?," we have a much more germane question to put to you. It is this. "What came first, the Hardcover versions of the How and Why Wonder Books, or the Softcover versions?"
The surprising answer is actually "neither." Well, let us explain a little bit further. The first books published in this series in the early part of 1960 were, indeed, "Hardcover" versions (and they did predate all of the soon-to-follow Softcover versions), but, they technically weren't "How and Why Wonder" books at all; rather they were simply "How and Why" books.
The following photos illustrate two of these "first edition" hardcovers. Shown below are the second book in the series (Weather) and the sixth book in the series (Stars).
Note that neither book reads "The How and Why Wonder Book of" in the upper left hand corner (inside the rainbow logo). They simply read, "The How and Why Book of." The following close-up image highlights this.
Not only did the rainbow crest read in such a manner, but the spines of the books also indicated that they were simply "How and Why" books (see photo below). Furthermore, none of the first printings of the initial six books in the series displayed a G&D four-digit book number printed near the base of the spine on them either (as all subsequent reprints would).
The following photos show images of the first-edition back covers of these books. The "red" colored back cover is of the Weather book and the "blue" back cover is of the Stars book. Note that they, likewise, simply read "How and Why Books" in the central text area and that absolutely no mention is made that the series is tied to the "Wonder Books" name (as of yet).
Shown below is an enlargement of the text area of the first edition back covers. Note that only the first six books in the series are listed (and that they all read "The How and Why Book of.")
It is interesting to note too that, even after the first six "glossy" hardcover books in the series were assigned their own unique four-digit G&D book numbers, and were revised to read "The How and Why Wonder Book of" in the rainbow logo and on back covers, many of them still continued to read "The How and Why Book of" on the spine.
Pictured below is a much later printing of the third book in the series, "Electricity." Note that the front cover logo now has the "Wonder" word in it, and the spine reads G&D book #4002, but the title on the spine is still minus the "Wonder."
These "first edition" hardcover copies of the initial six books in the series were all published as, what was later to become known as, the "Trade" editions. They all had what we will call "glossy" covers, since they uniformly had a thin layer of mylar type plastic coating on them to give them their distinctive sheen. With age and use, many of these books tend to exhibit this plastic layer peeling off in flakes and pieces. The gloss cover format was continued for many years, as it was thought that the glossy covers had more store appeal to consumers in a retail environment.
While we will not delve further into the topic of the various hardcover versions of the H&W books at this juncture (more on them later), suffice it to say that, in addition to the "Trade" editions, which were intended to be sold in retail locations, G&D also published "Library" editions, for use in school and public libraries, and "School" editions, for use as student texts. Both the Library editions and the School editions possessed rugged "linen" covers, intended to sustain much abuse. While these books were also published in the 1960's, it wasn't until much, much later that Grosset and Dunlap "rethought" their choice of covers and started manufacturing the "Trade" editions with "linen" covers, too.
We will next focus on the "softcover" editions, in order of their year of release.
Shown below are photos of the first six books in the series in "softcover" format. These books were published and distributed simultaneously in both U.S. and Canadian markets at an initial price of 50 cents per book (in either currency). The text beneath the photos provides details as to the author, illustrator and four-digit G&D book number assigned. (N.B. Note that the numbers assigned to the softcover editions were completely different from those assigned to any of the hardcover versions of an identical title.) The first six books were released, it is assumed, in the early part of 1960.
#5001 - Dinosaurs - Written by: Darlene Geis, Illustrated by: Kenyon Shannon
#5002 - Weather - Written by: George Bonsall, Illustrated by: George Pay
#5003 - Electricity - Written by: Jerome J. Notkin & Sidney Gulkin, Illustrated by: Robert Patterson & Charles Bernard
#5004 - Rocks and Minerals - Written by: Nelson W. Hyler, Illustrated by: Kenyon Shannon
#5005 - Rockets and Missiles - Written by: Clayton Knight, Illustrated by: (no illustration credit given)
#5006 - Stars - Written by: Norman Hoss, Illustrated by: James Ponter
Shown below is a photo of the back cover of one of the first six softcover editions. Note that it is similar in style to the first six hardcover editions, except for the fact that it now reads "How and Why Wonder Books" near the center. Next to this photo is a picture of the back covers of the first six softcover books in the series. Note the color schemes. The back cover of Dinosaurs is in light green; Weather is in red; Electricity is in light blue; Rocks and Minerals is in dark green; Rockets and Missiles is in red; and Stars is in dark blue. We are fairly confident that these colors would have been a constant with all first edition copies of each specific title.
The back covers of the first versions of both the hardcover and softcover books were decorated with questions such as "What causes the seasons? What is Quartz? Can you squeeze air?," and so on.
Based on the early success of the H&W series, Grosset and Dunlap also published a second tranche of six more books prior to the end of 1960. They are pictured and described below.
#5007 - Insects - Written by: Ronald N. Rood, Illustrated by: Cynthia & Alvin Koehler
#5008 - Reptiles and Amphibians - Written by: Robert Mathewson, Illustrated by: Douglas Allen & Darrell Sweet
#5009 - Birds - Written by: Robert Mathewson, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson & Ned Smith
#5010 - Our Earth - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: John Hull
#5011 - Beginning Science - Written by: Dr. Jerome Notkin & Sidney Gulkin, Illustrated by: William Fraccio & Tony Tallarico
#5012 - Machines - Written by: Dr. Jerome Notkin & Sidney Gulkin, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
Shown below on the left is the "second" version of the back cover. It featured a molecular pattern with drawings of a grasshopper, a microscope and other items inside the various circles. Next to it is a picture of all six "first printings" of books 6-12. Note that the back cover of Insects is in red; Reptiles and Amphibians is in green; Birds is in light blue; Our Earth is in light blue; Beginning Science is in green; and Machines is in red. Gone are the two different shades of green and the dark blue color from the first six books.
The success of the How and Why Wonder book series, fueled by its intriguing cover art, continued into the following year and, in the early part of 1961, another six books were added to the series. They are pictured below. Note that "the Civil War" was the first book in the series to stray away from either science or nature topics, and to enter the realm of human history.
#5013 - The Human Body - Written by: Martin Keen, Illustrated by: Darrell Sweet
#5014 - Sea Shells - Written by: Donald F. Low, Illustrated by: Cynthia & Alvin Koehler
#5015 - Atomic Energy - Written by: Donald Barr, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5016 - The Microscope - Written by: Martin Keen, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson
#5017 - The Civil War - Written by: Earl Schenck Miers, Illustrated by: Leonard Vosburgh
#5018 - Mathematics - Written by: Esther H. Highland & Harold J. Highland, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson
The back cover design remained the same as the "second" version, previously used in 1960, but it now showcased book titles 13-18 as well.
Once more, Grosset and Dunlap decided to expand the series with another six volumes prior to the end of the year. This next batch of releases contained an edition that was neither "historical," nor truly "scientific" in nature. It was the twentieth book in the series titled "Ballet." (Yet, some elements of the book were historical and other sections did examine the "science" of dance.) Books #19-24 of the series are displayed as follows.
#5019 - Flight - Written by: Harold Joseph Highland, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5020 - Ballet - Written by: Lee Wyndham, Illustrated by: Rafaello Busoni
#5021 - Chemistry - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson & Donald Crowley
#5022 - Horses - Written by: Margaret Cabell Self, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson
#5023 - Explorations and Discoveries - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Darrell Sweet
#5024 - Primitive Man - Written by: Donald Barr, Illustrated by: Matthew Kalmenoff
The back covers of these editions once more featured the same framework as the previous 12 releases, but volumes #19-24 now appear on the list. This would be the last year that the molecular design would be utilized as, commencing in 1962, the most well-known and long-running back cover would make its debut.
Explorations and Discoveries - #5023
One area of confusion, even for the experienced H&W collector, relates to volume #5023, Explorations and Discoveries.
I recall, years ago, contributing to the "Wikipedia" website article on "How and Why Wonder Books" and having to correct a false impression that a knowledgeable U.K. collector had with regards to this book. He stated that the front cover that displayed the Spanish conquistador (Cortes?) and the Aztec people on it was only available on U.K. Transworld editions. He was under the impression that the front cover shown in the photo on the right below (with the Viking on it) was the only version of this book available to North American markets. While it is true that the cover on the left was the same as that on U.K. editions, it was also the "first issue" cover on North American books printed in 1961 and was, subsequently, changed to the version on the right. Hence, there were "two" North American covers for this book.
Not only was the cover on the left the initial "softcover" issue, it was also the front cover of the glossy hardcover "Trade Edition" here in North America, too.
When would the cover have changed? There are two clues. The first being that some copies of the later Viking cover still show a cover price of 50 cents, thus implying that the Viking cover already existed in the mid-1960's, and was not a later 1970's version (like the one pictured above with the 69 cent price logo). But, more compelling is the fact that the Viking shown on the second version of the cover was the same image as that used on the back covers of the entire H&W series commencing with issue #5025 in 1962. Thus, the first issue cover would have been published in 1961 and likely phased out sometime in early 1962 and replaced by the Viking cover.
It is no wonder then that the Viking cover is the only version shown on other How and Why websites. The first issue North American cover is likely fairly rare. Having said that, a final clue that the first issue cover likely only lasted for one brief year is the fact that both softcover copies and the one hardcover copy that I possess all have the 1961 "Molecular" back cover on them (as illustrated earlier above).
For collectors who desire the entire series though, both versions of the softcover edition are likely a "must have."
A Note about Release Dates, Copyrights, etc.
Prior to going any further with a detailed description of the release years and the various editions contained within the H&W series, it is important to be clear regarding our core assumptions about the "Year of Release" of each book in the series.
While we have exercised our best efforts in trying to determine exactly when the various How & Why Wonder Books would have hit retail store shelves, there is no guarantee that the information stated herein is completely accurate. With all the early releases of the H&W books (from 1960 to 1965), we have had to rely primarily on two or three indicators. The Copyright Date and the Library of Congress Control Number (the "LCCN") are considered to be the strongest indicators of year of release. The third indicator, although not of true practical value with the early editions, is the cover price.
The LCCN, as we will subsequently see, cannot be relied upon with any measure of confidence. The LCCN is a hyphenated number sequence that always commences with a "two-digit" year indicator at the start of the number. Although on most early releases of the H&W Books, both the copyright year and the LCCN are usually in agreement, there is no guarantee that they both indicate the publishing year, nor that they will always be in sync. (We will see, with later releases, that the copyright year and the LCCN can vary widely, with gaps as large as 4 or 5 years between them). The reason that the LCCN is unreliable is as follows. The Library of Congress can assign an LCCN prior to publication of a work upon the request of the publisher. The preassigned number (called a PCN), becomes the official Library of Congress Control Number and, as such, it can pre-date both the copyright year and/or the year of publication (or of the book's actual creation). Secondly, there was no pressure in the 1960's (or 1970's either) to compel publishers to ensure that an LCCN was created in a timely manner. Thus, many LCCNs may be dated years after the publication of a work, as either the publisher filed for a number in a tardy manner, or, the Library became aware of the unnumbered publication via some other means.
As far as Copyright dates are concerned, they are usually considered to be the "best" indicator because, when the symbol "C" in a circle appears in a book, it also implies the year of first publication of that work. But, there are many pitfalls associated with assuming that the Copyright year is also the same as the release year of any given publication. First of all, a few basics of copyright law will help shed light on this. A copyright, under international law, is considered to be created as soon as a literary work is completed. Although it is standard practice in most countries to "file" for a copyright with a federal agency, there is no requirement to do so in order to create a copyright interest in that work. Given this, the "C" symbol in a circle does not imply that the copyright has been "registered" with the federal government; it is merely an indicator that the work has been completed and the copyright interest has been created. The first publication date, therefore, is also a vague concept. If an author "publishes" a small handful of draft copies of his book, is that the copyright year? Or, does the book have to be published by a major Publishing House for distribution in retail markets for it to count as the "Year of First Publication?" Finally, even though a book may well have been printed in the exact same year as the copyright indicates, there is no guarantee that a publisher might not "stockpile" the book in a warehouse for later release to the public, or, that there could be some other delay between the date of first printing of the book and the first day the book hits store shelves.
Another danger of relying upon Copyright dates is that, when a book is revised and re-printed, often only the original copyright date of the first release appears. Also, if the book was originally printed in a different series format, or by a different publisher, the Copyright date shown is usually the date of the first publication, and not of the current release.
H&W books published in the 1970's tend to have a "Year of Printing" in them, which is a much more reliable indicator than the Copyright year, but the pitfall here is that it still may be a subsequent printing of an earlier release.
And, finally, the cover price is also a helpful tool with regards to H&W books published throughout the late 1960's and 1970's, as the changing cover price is also indicative of each era. But, regarding H&W books published from 1960 to 1965 (volumes #5001 through #5060), the original release price was a constant at 50 cents and a higher cover price on any of these books simply means that it is just a later printing of the exact same book.
Thus, any of the first 24 books in the series may have been released to retailers "later than" indicated above. For example, volumes 19-24 are listed as having been published in the latter half of 1961, but there is no guarantee that they did not actually first hit retail store shelves until, say, early 1962. Short of hopping into a "Time Machine" and traveling back in time, there is no real way to tell. The only thing that we can be absolutely certain of is that these books could not have been released any "earlier" than the dates catagorized herein.
In 1962, Grosset and Dunlap published an additional 12 books, thus expanding the series to 36 volumes in total by the end of the year. As with previous years, these editions were released in two separate batches of 6 books each. The first additional lot of six is illustrated below.
#5025 - North America - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Darrell Sweet
#5026 - Planets and Interplanetary Travel - Written by: Dr. Harold J. Highland, Illustrated by: Denny McMains
#5027 - Wild Animals - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: Walter Ferguson
#5028 - Sound - Written by: Martin L Keen, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5029 - Lost Cities - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: R. Busoni
#5030 - Ants and Bees - Written by: Ronald N. Rood, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
This was the first year of the new revised back cover which featured full color art images of: a knight on horseback, sea shells, a colt, a butterfly, an oriole, a heat furnace, a Viking, a molecular model, rocks and minerals, a hot air balloon, a WWII airplane and a dinosaur. This would become the standard back cover design for all future H&W books released in the 1960's.
It is further interesting to note that, in the above image, this particular back cover actually only shows 29 of the first 30 books listed on it. For some strange reason, volume #5029, "Lost Cities," fails to appear on it. We would assume that this was a "first printing" of this 1-30 back cover and that either volume 29 was not ready for distribution, or that it was a simple printing error. In any event, later versions of this same cover do correctly show all 30 books on the list.
In the second half of 1962, the next six volumes in the series appeared. They are shown immediately below.
#5031 - Wild Flowers - Written by: Grace F. Ferguson, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5032 - Dogs - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: William Barss
#5033 - Prehistoric Mammals - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: John Hull
#5034 - Science Experiments - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5035 - World War II - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Darrell Sweet
#5036 - Florence Nightingale - Written by: Robert N. Webb, Illustrated by: Leonard VosburghFeatured below is a photo of the revised back cover which now shows volumes 5001-5036 inclusive on it.
This would be the final year that Grosset and Dunlop would be productive enough as to put out 12 additional volumes within a single calendar year. Starting in 1964, new H&W book production would slow down to a more moderate 6 books per year. Shown below are the 6 newest releases for the first portion of 1963.
#5037 - Butterflies and Moths - Written by: Ronald N. Rood, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5038 - Fish - Written by: Geoffrey Coe, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5039 - Robots and Electronic Brains - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: Denny McMains
#5040 - Light and Color - Written by: Harold Joseph Highland, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5041 - Winning of the West - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Leonard Vosburgh
#5042 - The American Revolution - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Leonard VosburghFeatured below is a photo of the revised back cover which now shows volumes 5001-5042 inclusive on it.
In the second half of 1963, the next six volumes in the series appeared. They are shown immediately below.
#5043 - Caves to Skyscrapers - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Robert Doremus
#5044 - Ships - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: Robert Doremus
#5045 - Time - Written by: Gene Liberty, Illustrated by: Jo Kotula
#5046 - Magnets and Magnetism - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: George Zaffo
#5047 - Guns - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Leonard Vosburgh
#5048 - The Moon - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Raul Mina MoraFeatured below is a photo of the revised back cover which now shows volumes 5001-5048 inclusive on it
There were six more books released in 1964. They are illustrated below.
#5049 - Famous Scientists - Written by: Jean Bethell, Illustrated by: Jo Kotula
#5050 - The Old Testament - Written by: Dr. Gilbert Klaperman, Illustrated by: John Hull
#5051 - Building - Written by: Donald Barr, Illustrated by: Robert Doremus
#5052 - Railroads - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: George Zaffo
#5053 - Trees - Written by: Geoffrey Coe, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5054 - Oceanography - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: Robert DoremusFeatured below is a photo of the revised back cover which now shows volumes 5001-5054 inclusive on it.
Another 6 titles were added to the series in the 1965 calendar year. Following their release, Grosset and Dunlap would take a lengthy hiatus before considering the addition of any more new titles. The six 1965 releases are shown below.
#5055 - North American Indians - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Leonard Vosburgh
#5056 - Mushrooms Ferns and Mosses - Written by: Amy Elizabeth Jensen, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5057 - The Polar Regions - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Shannon Stirnweis
#5058 - Coins and Currency - Written by: Dr. Paul J. Gelinas, Illustrated by: John Hull
#5059 - Basic Inventions - Written by: Irving Robbin, Illustrated by: Leonard Vosburgh
#5060 - The First World War - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Robert DoremusWe haven't posted a photo of the back cover of an H&W book showing volumes 5001-5060 due to the difficulty in terms of locating one. It seems that, when volumes #5055 to #5060 were released, G&D never bothered revising the listing on back covers. The first edition copies of those books continued to show only numbers 5001-5054 on them. It wasn't until volume #5061 was released that the listing was updated to also show numbers 5055 to 5060. All of the back covers that we have seen that show #'s 5055 to #5060 also show #5061 (Electronics) on them, with #5061 either appearing at the top of the second column, the bottom of the second column (the last item listed) or, in some cases, #5061 appears "twice" on back covers, both at the top and the bottom of the second column.
As already indicated, after the 1965 editions were released, there was a time lag before G&D decided to add more books to the series. The next book to be released was #5061 (Electronics) and it was released as a single "stand alone" add-on to the series. We know this as the listings on back covers of many books show #'s 5001-5061 as a continuous sequential list. Yet, the actual release date of Electronics is unknown, other than for the fact that the copyright page shows both a 1969 copyright and a 1969 LCCN. Therefore, it would be highly unlikely that Electronics would have been released prior to 1969.
The next batch of books was also released later in 1969 as indicated by copyright dates and cover pricing. There were two more new additions to the series, #5062 (Deserts) and #5063 (Air and Water). Like Electronics, Air & Water was another new publication that also had a 1969 LCCN and copyright date. Deserts had an earlier copyright date, but this may have been attributable to the fact that it might have been a reprint of an earlier Transworld U.K. edition.
Along with Deserts and Air & Water, Grosset and Dunlap also revised and updated six of the books in the series by discontinuing the existing versions and releasing six new editions with slightly modified contents, new cover art and new G&D book numbers. The six deleted books were: #5006 Stars, #5019 Flight, #5038 Fish, #5044 Ships, #5048 The Moon, and #5052 Railroads. They were replaced by the following updated versions: #5064 Stars, #5065 Airplanes and the Story of Flight, #5066 Fish, #5067 Boats and Ships, #5068 The Moon, and #5069 Trains and Railroads.
With the release of these additional 8 volumes, and with the elimination of 6 of the former titles, the lists on back covers were also updated.
Below are photos of the front covers of books #5061 to #5069.
#5061 - Electronics - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5062 - Deserts - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Robert Doremus
#5063 - Air and Water - Written by: Martin L. Keen, Illustrated by: Tony Tallarico
#5064 - Stars - Written by: Norman Hoss, Illustrated by: James Ponter
#5065 - Airplanes and the Story of Flight - Written by: Harold Joseph Highland, Illustrated by: George J. Zaffo
#5066 - Fish - Written by: Geoffrey Coe, Illustrated by: Cynthia Iliff Koehler & Alvin Koehler
#5067 - Boats and Ships - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: Robert Doremus
#5068 - The Moon - Written by: Felix Sutton, Illustrated by: Raul Mina Mora
#5069 - Trains and Railroads - Written by: Robert Scharff, Illustrated by: George Zaffo
In the 1970's, 5 more titles were added to the series. The five titles, along with their G&D number and year of release were: #5070 Ecology (1971), #5071 The Environment and You (1973), #5072 Extinct Animals (1974), #5073 Snakes (1975), and #5076 Fossils (1976).
The 1970's editions had a new design on back covers and Grosset and Dunlap commenced the process of using "photo" covers instead of the previous "painted" covers on many books in the series (more on photo covers later). They also began limiting the number of books in the series during this era. All books continued to have the standard 8 1/2" x 11" size and 48-page page format, except for "The Environment and You" which contained 64 pages.
Although there is a numbering gap between #5073 (Snakes) and #5076 (Fossils), book numbers 5074 and 5075 were never released. This brought the number of books released from 1960 to 1976 to 74 unique editions in total. If we are to also account for the fact that #5023 (Explorations and Discoveries) had two different covers, a complete collection of all the various softcover editions would total 75 books.
Shown below are the front covers of the five 1970's editions, along with a photo of the revised back cover.
#5070 - Ecology - Written by: Shelly & Mary Louise Grossman, Photos by: Shelly Grossman
#5071 - The Environment and You - Written by: Matthew J. Brennan, Illustrated by: Anthony Tallarico
#5072 - Extinct Animals - Written by: John Burton, Illustrated by: John Barber
#5073 - Snakes - Written by: Georg Zappler, Illustrated by: Dougal MacDougal
#5076 - Fossils - Written by: John Burton, Illustrated by: John Barber
There's Still Much More to Know and Discover!
Due to the length of the text and the number of photos contained on this web page, we now must conclude our commentary in order to facilitate more efficient web browsing on this site. But wait! There's much, much more to know about How and Why Wonder Books. We still have not discussed the various "Hardcover" editions, the related Spotlight Wonder Book and 7900 Series, the "Answers About" series, the "Allan Publishers, Inc." distributor years, the Photo cover editions, the Price/Stern/Sloan editions, the "Compilation" sets or other 8 1/2" x 11" science books produced by the competition. So, to continue learning more about this timeless series, click on the menu tab for "How and Why, Part Two" above and read on!