Here’s a quick post in celebration of a 2011 title that I really enjoyed, Michael Morpurgo’s adaptation (Candlewick, October 2011) of the classic Pied Piper of Hamelin, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, a story which—according to this link anyway—may date back to the Middle Ages. (Now, suddenly, I want to know everything about this fairy tale, but I guess that’ll have to get added to my to-do list. Wonder if anyone anywhere has annotated it?)
The Publishers Weekly review describes this one as an adaptation with “a Dickensian spin and a blatant social agenda.” As the publisher likes to put it, this is a “great morality tale.” Indeed. For those not familiar with the story, it concerns Hamelin Town, full of beggar children, while the “rich and the greedy lived like kings and queens behind the walls and gates of their grand houses.” When the mysterious Pied Piper appears, Morpurgo writes, he tells the corrupt Mayor he only wants one gold coin for ridding the town of its cursed rats and adds, “I am not a greedy man. Enough is always as good as a feast. When one man becomes rich, ten others become poor. Looking around this town, I think you should know that by now.” Later, he says:
Children should not have to grow up in a place where there is no honesty, where promises can be broken so easily, and where greed and wastefulness rule. There must be no more beggars, no more poor, ragged children living on scraps from the rich man’s table. There is enough to go around in Hamelin Town for everyone, and enough is all you need. Every child should have a clean place to live, food on the table, and a warm fire in the winter.
Yup, I’d say this is relevant, given the political dialogue that goes on in this country, even if the author and illustrator here are British.
As I’ve noted previously at 7-Imp, I like the work of Emma Chichester Clark—a whole lot—and I hope to one day have her over for a breakfast Q & A.
Here’s another spread from the book, a spirited contemporary adaptation of this very old tale. Enjoy.
swarming across the bridge in their thousands. …”
(Click to enlarge and see entire spread with text)
THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN. Text copyright © 2011 by Michael Morpurgo. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by Emma Chichester Clark. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.