Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Tale of Two Bad Mice

The Tale of Two Bad Mice
Beatrix Potter ~ F. Warne & Co., 1904


This post is way overdue. I'm not sure why I've neglected one Ms. Helen Beatrix Potter. Maybe I thought her books were too obvious. Maybe I thought the way I feel about these books would be too difficult to portray in 300 words or less. Maybe I thought my words could never do justice. Whatever... the point is, I'm over those hangups now, and I'm ready to tell you about my... AND YOU WILL ONLY HEAR ME SAY THIS ONCE... all time favorite books EVER EVER EVER of my childhood. (And I am lumping all her The Tale/Story Of books together because to love one means you've love them all.) That's right. For all you folks out there who were wondering what my number one pick would be. From her first book in 1902 (The Tale of Peter Rabbit) to the last of the series in 1930 (The Tale of Little Pig Robinson), Ms. Potter created a world so divine, so elaborate, so imaginative... that for over 100 YEARS, she's been making children fall in love over and over again.

Really, there are no books better. If you are looking for the holy grail of children's literature, look no further for ye shall find it in a complete box set of the series. That said, this particular ditty is about two very bad mice who ransack a dollhouse.

The doll's-house stood at the other side of the fire-place. Tom Thumb went cautiously across the hearthrug. They pushed the front door - it was not fast. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went upstairs and peeped into the dining-room. Then they squeaked with joy! Such a lovely dinner was laid out upon the table! There were tin spoons, and lead knives and forks, and two dolly-chairs - all so convenient!

When they come to find out that the food isn't real, they trash and loot the joint leaving a couple of dollies stupefied. A jolly good show really. One of the lead players in this book (Hunca Munca) was always my sister's favorite make-believe character, though I was more of a Jeremy Fisher girl myself. (He gets eaten alive for goodness sake... how marvelous!)

Potter's drawings are delicate and perfect, spinning a wonderful world that is interconnected and alive with possibility. And her words are pristine, though it is hard to read them aloud without putting on the Brit. Really, eight million fingers and toes and any other extremities you might care to point up, up.

(This is my original childhood copy, so excuse the scribbles.)

4 comments:

loliecraft said...

I just recently came across your blog and I have to say I look forward to reading it each day. You showcase some really wonderful books! This book, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, was one of my childhood favourites for a very long time. I think I still have my copy somewhere down in the basement. You've inspired me to go dig it up!

Edi said...

I love Beatrix Potter! When I was pregnant with my first I didn't want a baby room overrun with a particular theme but I did have a little partial "theme" and it was Beatrix Potter...

Her stories are sweet but not overly silly or commercialized like Disney stuff.

Elena said...

I just got a copy of Peter Rabbit as a baby shower gift and there were "new" pictures. Evidently they published a new set of the books with 6 extra illustrations--4 were cut out for endpapers and 2 never made it in at all. She made more than needed or something. Anyway, it was fun to reread the book and spot the new pictures. Those are what I remember the most from hearing it as a child.

editormom said...

My childhood friend had a baby doll called Hunca Munca. I didn't realize until I was much older that her doll was named after Tom Thumb's wife in Two Bad Mice.

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