The Slant Book by Peter Newell (published in 1910) was an unusual publication - instead of being a perfect rectangle like most books, it was a slopey shape called a Rhomboid.
The story, told in verse, is about an infant in a pram that runs away down the hill. The pram practically becomes a go-cart and causes all sorts of funny mayhem on the way. It's almost like a cartoon in verse - only animation had not been invented at the time it was written.
As the stories goes on, you will realise that in 1910 the town and the countryside were much closer together.
We hope you enjoy it ! Scroll down for lots of pictures by Peter Newell who was a cartoonist as well as a writer.
Read by Natasha.
Where Bobby lives there is a hill—
A hill so steep and high,
'Twould fill the bill for Jack and Jill
Their famous act to try
Once Bobby's Go-cart broke away
And down this hill it kited.
The careless Nurse screamed in dismay
But Bobby was delighted
He clapped his hands, in manner rude,
And laughed in high elation—
While, close behind, the Nurse pursued
In hopeless consternation
An Officer slid off the lid
As Bobby hove in sight,
And bellowed out, "You're scorchin', kid—
I'll run you in all right!"
But down the Go-cart swiftly sped
And smashed that Cop completely,
And as he sailed o'er Bobby's head
Bob snipped a button neatly!
A funny Son of sunny Greece
Was standing near the curb,
Beside his push-cart, wrapped in peace,
That naught could well disturb
But all at once he got a shock—
The Go-cart speeding down,
Collided with his fancy stock
And littered up the town!
The runaway then swerved a bit
And snapped a Hydrant, short;
Which accident proved quite a hit
Of rather novel sort
The Water spouted in a jet
As much as ten feet high,
And all were soaked and nearly choked
Who chanced to be nearby!
A farmer's wife, Miss' Angy Moore,
Was trudging up the grade.
A basketful of eggs she bore
To barter with in trade
The Go-cart and the Lady met
(Informally, no doubt)
And made a sort of omelette
And spread it round about!
A Painter on a ladder perched,
Was working at his calling—
Against its foot the Go-cart lurched
And sent the fellow sprawling
His pot of paint came tumbling down
And wrong side up, it settled
About a Chappie's flaxen crown—
Oh, my! but he was nettled!
A German Band across the street
Its way was slowly wending,
Which was a movement indiscreet,
The way that things were tending
The Go-cart struck the bass drum square,
And passed completely through it.
The Drummer madly tore his hair
And said, "Vy did you do it?"
Some Workingmen were putting in
A heavy plate-glass front.
The Go-cart then came rushing in
And did its little stunt
It smashed to bits a crystal pane
Two sweating men were bearing,
And sped on down the slanting plane
And left them mad and swearing!
An automobile big and brown
Was chugging up the hill,
And met the Go-cart plunging down
With speed that boded ill
At once there rose a noise and din
Of people in dismay.
A Sandwich-man then butted in
And opened up a way!
A Lad was rushing with a Hat
Some Lady had been buying—
The Go-cart caught—and laid him flat,
And sent the hat-box flying
The Hat fell out and settled down
Upon our Bobby's head.
"Say, I'm the swellest kid in town!"
The precious rascal said
A Newsboy next was somehow hit—
The Go-cart, swift and dextrous,
Contrived to muss him up a bit
And fill the air with extras
One copy Bobby neatly scooped,
And saw this wild display,
In type so bold it fairly whooped:
"A GO-CART BREAKS AWAY!"
Then as the Go-cart speeded by,
A Bulldog, quite pugnacious,
Seized on the handle on the fly
And clung with grip tenacious
The Go-cart's speed was so increased
The Dog streamed out behind it,
And Bobby turned to pet the beast
Which didn't seem to mind it!
Perambulating down the street
Was Miss Lucile O'Grady—
The Go-cart knocked her off her feet
And took on board the Lady
"Your fare!" said Bobby, with a shout,
One chubby hand extending.
But Miss O'Grady tumbled out
With shrieks the heavens rending
A Herder up the weary grade
A yearling Calf was leading.
The creature was a stubborn jade
And lunged about, unheeding
The Go-cart caught the rope midway
Between the Calf and Herder,
And both fell in behind the shay
With cries of "Ba-a!" and "Murder!"
The Go-cart skidded off the street
And shot across the yard
The game was "forty all," but then
It didn't end that day—
The Go-cart dashed into the net
And carried it away!
On came the Go-cart down the grade
(The town was now behind it)
And ran into an orchard's shade
Where Providence resigned it!
But then it only grazed a tree
And set it all a-shiver;
The ripened fruit fell merrily
And likewise Sammy Sliver!
Then through a Watermelon patch
This awful cart descended,
And split the melons by the batch—
The Farmer was offended
And tried to stop its wild career,
Which was a silly notion—
It passed him promptly to the rear
With quite a rapid motion!
A Picnic Party on the green
Were seated at their lunch—
The Go-cart dashed upon the scene
And through the happy bunch!
Sardines and pickles, ham and cake,
Were jumbled in a mess,
Then straightway rose these Picnickers
And shouted for redress!
And so absorbed was he, he failed
To note the Go-cart coming
A crash! The circumambient air
Was filled with miscellany,
And damaged quite beyond repair
Was Cremnitz White Mulvaney!
A Damsel milked a brindled Cow
Out in a pasture green,
The Birdies sang from bush and bough—
All Nature was serene
When suddenly a thunderbolt
Dispelled the sweet illusion—
The Go-cart gave the twain a jolt,
And all was wild confusion!
Upon a rustic bridge a Chap
Cast out a bait inviting,
And presently he took a nap
And dreamed the fish were biting
Then came the Go-cart like a gale
And rudely him awakened—
At first he thought he'd caught a whale,
But found he was mistaken!
The longest night must have an end
As well as a beginning;
And so this Cart, you may depend,
Was bound to cease its spinning
It crashed into a hemlock Stump
That chanced to block its way,
And Bobby made a flying jump
And landed in the hay!