Saturday, January 3, 2009

Children's Books - Animal Themes

I remember as a child I was very fond of animal stories - I ploughed my way through such classic writers as R M Ballantyne and Jack London and some other writer whose name escapes me.

Anyway, I have a few such like animal stories in my collection of children's paperbacks. These included Charlotte's Web which is missing.

Everyone has heard of Watership Down by Richard Adams - a big hit back in 1972. There was even a film made of the book. But truth to tell, every time I think of Watership Down I recall this urban legend which relates to a butcher somewhere in the UK who had a sign outside his shop advertising rabbit meat. It said " You've seen the movie, you've read the book, now eat the cast."

adams_watership

Also rather famous in their time are the archy & mehitabel books by Don Marquis.

As the blurb says "archy is a cockroach who writes free verse on an office typewriter; mehitabel the cat claims she was once Cleopatra. As she can't type, archy, a wit, a scandal-monger and a philosopher, is forced to be her reporter."

marquis_archy_mehitabel1 marquis_archy_mehitabel2

Also involving cats is T S Eliot's Old Possums Book of Practical Cats - another very well known book which was the inspiration for the musical "Cats"

Another charming animal story is The Pig Plantagenet by Allen Andrews described on the back as a tale of wit and enchantment.

eliot_possums_cats pig_plantagenet

And how could one go past Russell Hoban's wonderful The Mouse & His Child. My paperback edition of this book is signed by Russell Hoban whom I met in 1984.

hoban_mouse mousechild_sig

Next - more old children's paperbacks, I promise it will be the last of them for the time being.

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