Rare books unveil the meanings of life

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“Why are Negroes black? What are Albinos? What makes man superior to all the animals?”

These and hundreds of other “unusually intelligent” questions thought to be asked by an early 1900s child – and their answers – are listed in a 737-page tome called The Parents’ Book.

There’s no reference to “where do babies come from” or anything about Santa Claus – the “child-mind’s power of observation” obviously didn’t stretch that far for the authors to include them.

The 1913 first edition is one of two old books up for grabs at Sunday’s St Joseph’s annual book fair through a silent auction.

The other, Cyclopedia of New Zealand Volume 3: Canterbury, is a 1903 first edition worth about $350, school PTA co-chair Gabby Lake says.

The book fair is the school’s biggest fundraiser – hundreds of people from around Otago converge on the school grounds to pick up a bargain between 10am-2pm.

Lake hopes about $20,000 will be raised for updating IT equipment.