I’m reading The Rescuers by Margery Sharp (”the rare children’s book in which mice aid Norwegians,” as Betsy Bird calls it in her Amazon review), originally published in the late 1950s and illustrated by Garth Williams. I’m forging ahead with this post, even though I haven’t finished the book yet. I’ve gotta take a break from my manuscript deadline, and I choose to enjoy some illustrations from Mr. Williams, whose work I enjoy so much. So, won’t you join me for a second?
Thank goodness for the New York Review Children’s Collection. Have any of you seen their series, which features “time-honored classics for children of all ages”? It began in 2003 as a response to readers who wished for the return of favorite, but long out-of-print, titles. “Reissue” can be a beautiful word if we’re talkin’ just the right book, don’t you know. A lot of happy exclamations came flying from my mouth as I perused their 2010-2011 catalog (and no doubt there’s a new one out), which includes titles from authors and illustrators such as the d’Aulaires, Ruth Krauss, Esther Averill, Munro Leaf, Marc Simont, Robert McCloskey, Edward Gorey, James Thurber … I could go on. Glorious, yes?
English author Margery Sharp wrote The Rescuers in 1959 and followed it up with eight other titles in the series, ending in 1978. When it comes to the pampered, hyper-intellectual Miss Bianca, most people are most familiar with this animated film adaptation, but the book is very different. It’s top-notch storytelling and quite funny, though again, I’m not done reading, so that’s all I’m going to say during my short work break here (with apologies to the book).
What I really wanted to do was showcase some of Garth Williams’s illustrations in the book. Williams once said that he believed that books “given, or read, to children can have a profound influence” and that, for that very reason, he wanted his illustrations to try to “awaken something of importance . . . humor, responsibility, respect for others, interest in the world at large.” Smart man.
And his work in this book is a wonder in that he manages to go from adorable mice to terrifying, dastardly-looking cat faster than you can say Mamelouk. See below. But only if you quite possibly want your nightmares taken care of for the next few weeks.
but ever and always keeping an eye on the chart.”
used to run up and sit outside.”
THE RESCUERS. Copyright © 1959 by Margery Sharp. Illustrations copyright © 1959 by Garth Williams. Published in 2011 by The New York Review Children’s Collection, New York. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher.